Innovation

Our brands are known for pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.

We invented the portable power tool, the retractable tape measure and the handheld vacuum. We invented the first battery system that can change voltage, and a solar pump with the potential to transform agriculture in the Emerging Markets. Today, we continue to push for constant innovation and positive change. See how we’ve innovated for 175 years.

Stories on Innovation

Innovators-in-Chief: Purposeful Founders Lead the Way

 

 

1830

This Burdon steam engine, purchased by the Stanley brothers in 1830, was the first in New Britain.1

1860s

A broadside advertisement from the 1860s for The Stanley Rule & Level Company.2

1865

The Grasping Fork and Ladle, designed for taking hot foods out of large pots, was one of the early household products manufactured by The Stanley Rule & Level Company, 1865.3

1866

Inventor Thomas Tracy was hired by The Stanley Works in 1866 after working at North, Stanley & Company and the New Britain Knitting Company. Tracy introduced a number of new devices, including this hole punching machine.4

1871

An 1871 receipt from The Stanley Rule & Level Company for assorted hardware, including rulers and planes, shows a sale of $2,245.

1874

A pocket-sized catalog from 1874 for The Stanley Rule & Level Company featuring Bailey Planes, used for shaping wood.

1876

The patent document for the Meter Diagram, which had metric and English measurement scales, 1876.

1876

The certificate received by The Stanley Works for its entry at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, an event that showcased industrial innovation.5

1880s

An 1880s display board shows the range of hinges and door parts manufactured by The Stanley Works.6

1885

The first workshop of The Irwin Auger Bit Works, Wilmington, Ohio, 1885.

1887

The boxwood rule created by Stanley Rule and Level, 1887.

1888

The 1888 Woodworker’s Guide served as a Stanley catalog and featured The Stanley Works’ factory on the cover.

1888

This paperweight doubled as an advertisement for Stanley’s corrugated steel hinge, 1888.

1899

The iconic Stanley folding rule, called the Zig Zag, began production in 1899.

1900

The cover of the 1900 catalog for The Stanley Rule & Level Company.

Late 19th Century

In the late 19th century, Stanley’s hinges featured cold-rolled iron. Stanley kept the cold-rolling process a closely guarded secret, and as a result was able to make high-quality products that were sold at a competitive price.7

Early 20th Century

William Hart, president of The Stanley Works, understood the importance of packaging and provided attractive display cases, like the one pictured here, to hardware stores for Stanley products.8

Early 20th Century

A traveling sales cart sells multiple brands, including Black & Decker, in the early 20th century.

1909

Acquired by Stanley Rule & Level in 1909, the John S. Fray Company manufactured bit extensions, breast drills, corner braces and ratchet braces, like the one pictured here. The company would become the fray division of Stanley Rule & Level and move to New Britain in 1924.9

1910s

Black & Decker’s custom machine shop in the early 20th century. During World War I, the shop manufactured gun sights, boring bars, and other munitions.

1915

George Hart became president of The Stanley Works in 1915 and succeeded his father, William Hart, as chairman in 1918.10

1916

The Eagle Square Company, founded in Shaftsbury, Vermont, was a leader in manufacturing steel framing squares. Stanley Rule & Level purchased the company in 1916.11

1920s

A Black & Decker representative demonstrates the use of a new power tool, c. 1920s.

1920s

Black & Decker employed mobile sales units, complete with ads and tutorials on the back windows, to help sell products—these units were often referred to as “school rooms on wheels.” Pictured here are two cars in Wellington, New Zealand.

1923

This 1923 counter display featured Stanley’s Four-Square line, which included 32 distinct tools for use at home.

1924

Black & Decker’s first product was an electric air pump called the Lectroflater.12

1926-1943

The rare No. 164 Low Angle Plane, manufactured between 1926 and 1943, is a sought-after collector’s item.13

1929

Alonzo G. Decker, Sr., S. Duncan Black, and pilot Bill Snowden with the Black & Decker flying showcase. This was purchased in October 1929 to help Black & Decker sell airplane tools to airplane mechanics in rural areas.14

1930s

Factory workers in Towson, Maryland, package Black & Decker’s portable electric drill, c. 1930s.15 *

1930s

An advertising proof of an Irwin auger display, 1930s. The ad states that all Irwin screwdrivers are durable and tested for “Twisting and Bending pressure.”

1936

A 1936 Sears tool catalog featuring Craftsman products.

1936

This page from the Sears catalog is devoted to the Craftsman drill, the “Most Powerful Drill on the Market."

1937

The CRC-Evans machine used here allowed for bitumen to be placed on a pipe in an accurate continuous coating, replacing the tedious “granny rag” method, circa 1937.16

1938

This 1938 catalog exhibited Irwin’s full line of screwdrivers.

1941

Craftsman tools were offered to students as an incentive to enroll at the St. Louis School of Aeronautics in St. Louis, Missouri.

1950s

This hardware store, c. 1950s, featured a number of Stanley’s offerings.

1953

In 1953, Stanley commissioned a fleet of Rollorama buses as mobile showcases that commemorated 100 years of The Stanley Works.17

1959

The 1959-1960 Sears tool catalog cover featured the new Craftsman Power Workshop—a five-in-one tool.18 *

1961

Stanley’s steel strapping division introduced air-powered tools in 1961. Assistant General Manager Donald W. Davis, left, demonstrates the two-ended sealer, while General Sales Manager James H.W. Conklin, right, demonstrates the tensioner. General Manager Harrison Bristoll is at center.19

1963

The opening of Stanley's power tools plant in New Bern, North Carolina, 1963. From left: Mack Lupton, mayor of New Bern; Leon J. Dunn, assistant general manager of Stanley's power tools division; Terry Sanford, governor of North Carolina; Donald Davis, executive vice president of Stanley; and David Henderson, manager of the new plant.20

1964

The first sales meeting in 1964 at the new Stanley plant on Myrtle Street in New Britain, Connecticut.21

1972

An Irwin employee at work using a coining machine, 1972.

1972

An Irwin employee works at a hole-punching machine, 1972. *

1980s

A semi tractor trailer, used to transport Irwin tools across the country.

1982

By 1982, CRC-Evans pipe-bending machines, such as this model with a hydraulic mandrel, could produce a 15-degree bend in a 40-foot pipe in 30 minutes, much faster than previous bending machines.22

*Historical photo. Always use products per their instructions and intended use.

 


 

[1] 1996 150 Years of Stanley Works.pdf pg. 17
[2] Rodengen, Jeffrey L. The Legend of Stanley: 150 years of The Stanley Works. Fort Lauderdale, FL: Write Stuff Syndicate, 1996. 62.
[3] 1996 150 Years of Stanley Works.pdf pg. 66
[4] 1996 150 Years of Stanley Works.pdf pg. 28
[5] Rodengen, Jeffrey L. The Legend of Stanley: 150 years of The Stanley Works. Fort Lauderdale, FL: Write Stuff Syndicate, 1996. 37.
[6] Rodengen, Jeffrey L. The Legend of Stanley: 150 years of The Stanley Works. Fort Lauderdale, FL: Write Stuff Syndicate, 1996. 29.
[7] Rodengen, Jeffrey L. The Legend of Stanley: 150 years of The Stanley Works. Fort Lauderdale, FL: Write Stuff Syndicate, 1996.48, 56.
[8] Rodengen, Jeffrey L. The Legend of Stanley: 150 years of The Stanley Works. Fort Lauderdale, FL: Write Stuff Syndicate, 1996.32.
[9] 1996 150 Years of Stanley Works.pdf pg. 73
[10] Rodengen, Jeffrey L. The Legend of Stanley: 150 years of The Stanley Works. Fort Lauderdale, FL: Write Stuff Syndicate, 1996.48, 56.
[11] 1996 150 Years of Stanley Works.pdf pg. 74-75

[12] Scott, Otto J. The powered hand: the story of Black & Decker. Washington: Uncommon Books, 1994. 19.
[13] Rodengen, Jeffrey L. The Legend of Stanley: 150 years of The Stanley Works. Fort Lauderdale, FL: Write Stuff Syndicate, 1996.182.
[14] Black & Decker book first insert 
[15] See box in image
[16] 2008 75 Year Tribute to Pipeliners CRC Evans.pdf pg. 6
[17] Rodengen, Jeffrey L. The Legend of Stanley: 150 years of The Stanley Works. Fort Lauderdale, FL: Write Stuff Syndicate, 1996. 102.
[18] Craftsman Binder pg 13
[19] 1996 150 Years of Stanley Works.pdf pg. 106
[20] 1996 150 Years of Stanley Works.pdf pg. 106
[21] Rodengen, Jeffrey L. The Legend of Stanley: 150 years of The Stanley Works. Fort Lauderdale, FL: Write Stuff Syndicate, 1996. 105.
[22] 2008 75 Year Tribute to Pipeliners CRC Evans.pdf pg. 25

 

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