Concerns grew at the beginning of the 20th century, fuelled by the British chemist William Crookes, who maintained in his famous speech of 1898 that: England and all civilized nations stand in deadly peril of not having enough to eat.
Professor Kristian Birkeland was an enthusiastic man. He intended to raise the money he needed for his research through inventions. In 1901, he started the work that would culminate in the development of the electric cannon.
The vision of a fertilizer industry in Norway had to be based on experiments and trials on a realistic scale, and results that would attract serious investors.
The foundation of Norsk Hydro should have taken place earlier, but these were busy men who had to find time to meet. The papers were finally signed on Dec. 2, 1905, in Sam Eyde's office in Christiania (now Oslo).
1905 was the year Norway, one of the poorest countries in Europe, stepped out of the union with Sweden and went ahead to demonstrate its strength as an independent nation.
Kristian Birkeland, Sam Eyde and Marcus Wallenberg are regarded as Hydros founders. Each was a person of unusual stature in his own right. Their joining forces at a historic moment was an singularly fortunate coincidence.