Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How the Leatherman became the Leatherman.

After seeing a new article in popular science on the creation of the Leatherman, I decided to do a little bit more research. It turns out unlike a lot of tool companies they have a very well laid out history on their website.

The Leatherman tool was originally conceived by Tim Leatherman, a mechanical engineering graduate of Oregon State university. In 1975 Tim was on a trip through Europe and the Middle east with his wife. While traveling the Fiat they were driving gave them lots of trouble. Tim was able to keep the car running with his small boy scout knife that had a small screwdriver on it, but the work frustrated him. He began to imagine a pocket knife that also had pliers, scissors and more screwdriver options.

When Tim arrives home from his trip he decides to continue work on his new multi tool idea. He begins the design by working with wood prototypes to get the initial tools and mechanisms down. His brother in law who is a machinist teaches him how to design parts in steel and the first metal prototypes are made.

Calling the new device "Mr. Crunch" Tim applies for and successfully receives a patent in 1980. He takes his idea to tool, knife, and gadget makes. The knife makers call it a tool, the tool makers call it a knife and the gadget makers want nothing to do with it. Tim decides to go into business and make the tool himself. Eventually in the winter of 1984 Cabellas and the Early Winters catalog pick up the tool. The orders are small, around 250 units. Tim prepares his company to make 4,000 units in case sales pick up. Sales do pick up, and by the end of the year the catalogs have orders for 30,000 Mr. Crunch's and the Leatherman is born.

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