The United States has always been a good place for inventors, tinkerers and problem solvers. Countless innovative tools, equipment and materials were born and bred right here in the USA, We decided to celebrate the stories of just a few of the many American trail blazers who created or improved products we’re very familiar with but probably don’t think twice about.
Want to see some tools that are a little more modern? Check out our story on the best new tools from 2018.
First portable electric drill
In 1910, Duncan Black and Alonzo Decker opened a small machine shop in Baltimore. They began building machinery—automated candy dippers, machines that made bottle caps and parts for other manufacturers. While sitting at Al Decker’s kitchen table, the two men thought about a lighter and easier-to-use industrial drill. (A Colt automatic pistol lay on the table—Colt was a customer.) Legend has it, they both looked at the gun and had a “eureka” moment. In 1917, they received a patent for the first 1/2-in. portable electric drill, equipped with a trigger and pistol grip, remarkably similar to the Colt. Factory workers loved the tool and often brought one home to use on their own houses. Black & Decker saw an opportunity and in 1946 introduced the world’s first portable drill for consumers. They sold their millionth drill five years later.