According to Forbes, Sir James Dyson is worth an estimated $5.7B. This self-made billionaire turned 72 earlier this month, and so we take a brief look at Dyson’s journey.
Born on 2 May 1947 in Cromer, Norfolk, Dyson was one of three children. He attended Gresham’s School in Holt from 1956 to 1965. Next, he attended the Byam Shaw School of Art in 1965/66, before studying furniture and interior design with the Royal College of Art in London from 1970. Then he went on to study engineering.
The early designs
While he was still a student at the Royal College of Art, Dyson also worked for British manufacturer Rotork. At the age of 23, he co-designed the Sea Truck which was a fibreglass boat able to carry a load of up to three tonnes.
Inspired after seeing a wheelbarrow get stuck in mud, Dyson then designed the Ballbarrow in 1974. More stable and lighter than a traditional wheelbarrow, its wide plastic ball wheel would play a pivotal role in many of Dyson’s later designs.
Next came the Cyclon 1000A vacuum cleaner. Funded by Rotork, the Cyclon was manufactured by Zanussi and distributed by Kleeneze in 1983. The revenue from the Cyclon sales enabled Dyson to set up his own company.
No bag. No loss of suction.
In 1993, after a decade in the making, the DC01 (previously named DA001), the first vacuum cleaner sold under the name of Dyson, was presented to the world.
Dyson’s patented Dual Cyclone technology delivered huge suction power compare to its rivals. And the best bit? It was bag-less. The price tag was hefty but justified given the money Dyson had invested and the 5,127 prototypes he had created before perfecting the design.
The DC01 was so powerful that its cyclone mechanism separated air and dust at a speed of 924 mph and could pull cigarette smoke from the air.
The DC01 was swiftly followed by the DC02 cyclone cleaner. In 2000, the CR01 arrived. It was a two counter-rotating drum washing machine, but this proved unprofitable and was discontinued a few years later. A number of other vacuum cleaners were produced over the next few years and then, in 2005, the DC15, named ‘The Ball’, arrived. The Ball was a throwback to Dyson’s Ballbarrow.
Moving air and killing filters
In 2006, Dyson launched the Airblade, a hand dryer for public bathrooms. The company then invented the Air Multiplier: a fan without external blades.
Following the launch of the DC56 in 2013, a battery-powered handheld floor cleaner, Dyson presented its Cinetic cleaner in 2014. As expected, this cleaner is bag-less, but interestingly, the filter had been dispensed with. According to Dyson, filters are a pain to clean and are prone to clogging which reduces suction.
The James Dyson Foundation
Dyson established the James Dyson Foundation in 2002 to challenge misconceptions about engineering and combat the shortfall of engineers in the UK. Five years later the James Dyson Award was launched to challenge young people to design something that solves a problem.
Today, Dyson employs more than 7,000 people around the world; more than 3,000 of them are engineers. Its latest development is its electric car which will cost billions in R&D; it should launch in 2021.
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