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Who is Jára Cimrman and why is Google honoring him?

Google homepage features tribute to controversial Czech figure.


PRAGUE – By all accounts, Jára Cimrman is the greatest Czech that ever lived. Considered a ‘universal genius,’ Cimrman was an accomplished inventor, sculptor, poet, director, actor, sportsman, inventor, composer and philosopher. He even won the prestigious “Greatest Czech” award in 2005, which he was unable to accept — because he is not real.

According to his illustrious biographies, Cimrman proposed the Panama Canal to the U.S. government, was deported from Germany as an anarchist, his personal documents carrying a note that he was “a source of unrest.” This led the Swiss company Omega to offer him a job to improve the unrest – balance wheel – for their Piccolo line of ladies watches. (N.B. the Czech and German words for a watch’s balance wheel, “nepokoj” and “Unruhe,” mean “unrest.”)

While in Switzerland, he introduced (and practiced for some time), under the difficult Alpine conditions, the profession of obstetrician. He conducted investigations into the life of Arctic cannibalistic (who eat their fellows) tribes; and once, while running away from the furious tribe, he missed the North Pole by a mere seven meters, thus almost becoming the first human reaching the North Pole. It is said that when Graham Bell invented his telephone, he found 3 missed calls from Jára Cimrman upon making his first connection – if his Wikipedia page is to be believed.

One of the other recurrent myths of Cimrman is that he is the true “father of the internet,” which he created inside a Viennese circus tent that featured a mouse doing a fair bit of running about to and from data points.

It may be this that has triggered Google’s ode to one of the Czech Republic’s most curious characters on their homepage today.

But if you are still not convinced, you can check out the Cimrman museum in the basement of the Petřin Lookout Tower.

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