This article is intended to give a review of the history of the classical aspects of unified field theories in the 20th century. It includes brief technical descriptions of the theories suggested, short biographical notes concerning the scientists involved, and an extensive bibliography. The present first installment covers the time span between 1914 and 1933, i.e., when Einstein was living and working in Berlin – with occasional digressions into other periods. Thus, the main theme is the unification of the electromagnetic and gravitational fields augmented by short-lived attempts to include the matter field described by Schrödinger’s or Dirac’s equations. While my focus lies on the conceptual development of the field, by also paying attention to the interaction of various schools of mathematicians with the research done by physicists, some prosopocraphical remarks are included.
© Max Planck Society and the author(s)