MRO Magazine

85th anniversary tool commemorates first portable drill

Richmond Hill, ON -- The first portable drills used in industry were introduced in 1917 by the Black & Decker compa...


March 24, 2003
By MRO Magazine

Richmond Hill, ON — The first portable drills used in industry were introduced in 1917 by the Black & Decker company. To commemorate the date, the company has introduced an 85th Anniversary Cordless Drill with an aluminum die-cast housing designed to look like the earlier drills.

Alonzo Decker and S. Duncan Black had formed their company in 1910 when they were both 23. The company produced a milk bottle cap machine, a vest-pocket adding machine, a candy dipping machine and other products for that time. Black handled sales and marketing, and Decker was responsible for innovation and engineering.

In 1917, Decker and Black were working to submit a bid to redesign parts for the Colt 45 pistol. They decided to make a drill with the same features as a pistol, with a pistol grip and a finger trigger. Drills in the mid-1910s were heavy machines that required two men to operate, so their idea was revolutionary. Later that year the company received a patent for the pistol grip and trigger switch on its drill.

In 1917, the company also built the first Black & Decker plant, with 12,000 square feet of floor space in a frame building in Towson, then a rural suburb of Baltimore.


Canada figured early in the company’s history. In 1922 it formed its first foreign subsidiary, Black & Decker Manufacturing Company Ltd., in Canada and built its first wholly owned assembly operation and sales, service and warehouse facility outside the U.S. The company also added the electric screwdriver to its growing product line.

Of the commemorative drill, Brett Maves, director of marketing for Black & Decker, says, “Even though this drill has the state-of-the-art features and performance of today’s drills, we are sure that the 85th anniversary drills are destined to become collector items.”

The new drill is sold with a protective case with an anniversary logo riveted to it.

For details on the company and its history, visit on the Internet.