February 18, 2011

Ron Hickman, inventor of the ubiquitous Workmate

Filed under: Randomness, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:23

Many people have bought and used the Workmate collapsible workbench . . . 30 million or so. The inventor, Ron Hickman, Ron Hickman, died recently:

Hickman, who lived in Jersey, was 78. His design for the wood-and-steel foldable workbench and vice was rejected by several tool companies that believed the bench wouldn’t sell.

Tool company Stanley told him the device would sell in the dozens rather than hundreds, while other companies told him the design would not sell at the necessary price. It has since sold about 30 million units around the world, and 60,000 were sold in the UK last year alone.

Hickman sold the benches himself when he couldn’t find a backer through trade shows direct to professional builders. Black & Decker saw the light in 1973 and began producing them. By 1981 it had sold 10 million benches.

He came up with the design when he accidentally sawed through an expensive chair while making a wardrobe. He had been using the chair as a workbench.

His designing skill wasn’t limited to tools: he also is credited with the design of the Lotus Elan.

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