The novel, today a children's classic, was written in 1813/1814 by Johann David Wyss (1743-1818).
The book was edited by Wyss' son, Johann Rudolf Wyss (1781-1830, author of the Swiss National Anthem).
Wyss was inspired by "Robinson Crusoe" (1719) by Daniel Defoe (1660?-1731).
"Robinson Crusoe" is considered the first true novel in English. "The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe" - as it was originally titled - is based on the tales of the Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk (1676-1721) who was put ashore on his own request on the Juan Fernandez Islands. He remained there for over four years before he was rescued in February 1709. Later the islands were renamed in Alexander Selkirk Island and Robinson Crusoe Island. The islands are located at 80° longitude, between 30° and 40° latitude, and belong to Chile.
In the novel "Swiss Family Robinson" the ship has settlers and their belongings on board therefore providing the family with everything they need to survive after being shipwrecked on a desert island. Wyss is making good use of poetic license, putting animal and plant life from all over the planet on the island, regardless of their original climatic environment. The Robinsons call the island New Switzerland and are marooned for 10 years before they are found by a ship. In the book the parents' first names are never mentioned, they are only referred to as father and mother. They have four sons, according to age: Fritz, Ernst, Jack and Franz. There are also several dogs over the years, one of them is called Bruno. (Robinson Crusoe also had a dog, that had no name, and a parrot called Poll.)
The story of "Swiss Family Robinson" is simply phantastic although perhaps a little naiv from a modern viewpoint. But it still is amusing and entertaining.
Countless movies and shows have been made about the story of "Swiss Family Robinson" as well as "Robinson Crusoe". Sometimes altered and put into a different environment, like for example "Robinson Crusoe on Mars" (1964) or the TV series "Lost in Space" (1965-68). Even Walt Disney made a movie about "Swiss Family Robinson" in 1960.
The series "The Adventures of Swiss Family Robinson" is the closet screen adaptation to the original novel that I have seen so far. But, of course, I haven't seen them all.
The father's first name, David, in the series is most likely originating from the second name of the author, as is the last name of the grandfather, Oscar Wyss, without a doubt based on the author's. The mother's name, Elizabeth, has proven quite popular in many screen adaptations. The changing of the sex of the children out of dramatic considerations can also be observed in many shows based on the novel.