Profile: James Dyson
1947 James Dyson is born to academic parents against
what he describes as a "middle class and not particularly
wealthy background in the backwater of north Norfolk."
1956 to 1965 Gresham's School, Holt, Norfolk, O-Levels
gained in Latin, Greek, French, English Language,
English Literature, Art, Mathematics, History. A-levels gained in Ancient History, Art and
1965 to 1966 Byam Shaw School of drawing and painting, Kensington, London.
1966 to 1970 Royal College of Art for four years, where he studies furniture design, then
Design of a new theatre for New Stratford East Theatre, 1967
Design of the auditorium and seats for the Roundhouse, London, 1967.
Chrome seating and crèche furniture design with the Conran Design Group for
Terminal 1, Heathrow
Designs for Peter Dominic wine shops in Victoria St, London, and Cheltenham with
the Conran Design Group.
Designs and engineers the Sea Truck for inventor Jeremy Fry, with sales to over 50
countries. The Sea Truck wins a Design Council Award and the 1975 Duke of
Edinburgh's special prize.
1970 Joins Rotork in Bath to start and manage the new Marine Division. He develops sales
to 40 different countries, and design's new and larger versions.
1973 Appointed a director of Rotork.
1974 Strikes out on his own to develop the Ballbarrow.
Designs a water-filled plastic garden roller, the Waterolla.
1977 The Ballbarrow wins the Building Design Innovation Award.
1978 James invents the Trolleyball - a boat launcher with ball wheels.
James stumbles across the idea of a bagless cleaner while renovating his country house in
1979 to 1984 Spends five years developing the cleaner, and builds 5,127 prototypes of the
Dual Cyclone(tm) vacuum cleaner.
1983 Dyson produces his first prototype vacuum cleaner, a very post-modern pink machine
called the G-Force, which makes the front cover of Design Magazine in 1983.
1982 to 1984 James Dyson spends two years trawling the UK and Europe, looking for
someone to license the product. The multinationals are reluctant to invest in the Dyson as it
would terminate the bag replacement market, worth £100 million a year in the UK alone.
1985 Dyson takes his product over to Japan where he begins to work alongside a company
which also imports Filofax.
1986 The Japanese start to sell the G-Force.
1987 The G-Force is displayed at the British Design Exhibition in Vienna.
1989 The G-Force is included in, and is the poster for, the British Design: New Traditions
exhibition in Rotterdam.
1990 to 1992 James Dyson is Chairman of Bath College of Higher Education.
1991 Dyson's G-Force cleaner wins the International Design Fair prize in Japan. The
Japanese are so impressed by its performance that the G-Force becomes a status symbol.
1993 Dyson opens his own research centre and factory in Chippenham, Wiltshire.
1993 to 1996 James Dyson is the external examiner for the Industrial Design Engineering
faculty at the Royal College of Art.
May 1993 The arrival of the Dyson DC01, retailing at around £200. Since its introduction the
DC01 has become the best-selling vacuum cleaner ever and now outsells its nearest
competitor by 5:1.
Turnover of Dyson Appliances is £2.4 million.
1994 Turnover rises to £9 million.
February 1995 The Dyson DC01 becomes the best-selling vacuum cleaner in the UK.
March 1995 The Dyson Dual Cyclone™ DC02 is launched, and becomes the second highest
selling cylinder model by value in the GfK hit list.
August 1995 Dyson Appliances moves from Chippenham and buys a larger factory at
Malmesbury, creating substantial jobs in the area.
Dyson Appliances wins the largest export order for electrical goods from Japan. "It gives a
new meaning to the old phrase 'shipping coals to Newcastle'," concludes Dyson.
December 1995 Turnover of Dyson at end of year is £34.9 million.
1996 Dyson sets up it's own sales and service subsidiaries in Australia and France.
James Dyson is awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Staffordshire University.
Elected Fellow of the Chartered Society of Engineers.
September 1996 Dyson launches the new DC02 Absolute, the first vacuum cleaner with both
HEPA filtration and a bacteria-killing screen.
Dyson exhibits at the Glasgow International Festival of Design.
Institute of Engineering Design award James Dyson the Gerald Frewer Memorial Trophy.
October 1996 Dyson launches the limited edition DC02 De Stijl in homage to the Dutch
design movement and the group's radical use of colour to highlight function and form.
The 'Doing a Dyson' exhibition opens at the Design Museum. The Dyson story is told in the
book, "Doing a Dyson", launched to coincide with the exhibition.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes sets out on the Dyson sponsored Antarctica Solo Expedition, aiming for
a solo crossing of Antarctica in aid of Breakthrough Breast Cancer. £1.7 million is donated to
Breakthrough raised by a limited edition vacuum cleaner.
Dyson establishes a scholarship for two students at the Royal College of Art.
November 1996 Dyson wins both the Grand Prix Trophy and the Consumer Product Design
Award at the UK Design Council and Design in Business Awards (DBA).
December 1996 Turnover of Dyson is £72 million. The DCO1 sells 32,000 units a month,
more than five times as many as its nearest competitor.
January 1997 Dyson sends a petition to the European Court of Human Rights, appealing
against the mandatory and exorbitant charges of patent renewal fees in the hope that the
practice will be changed.
James Dyson becomes a member of the Design Council.
Dyson becomes the first British company to win a European Design Award.
May 1997 Dyson products are exhibited at the Sonsbeek Design and Art Museum in
James Dyson's autobiography 'Against the Odds' is published.
June 1997 James Dyson becomes a Trustee of the Design Museum. Apart from Alice
Rawsthorn of the Financial Times he is the only person to hold this post, and be a member of
the Design Council. Plans in progress for an education centre sponsored by Dyson at the
Institute of Engineering Designers elects James to Hon MEID.
July 1997 James Dyson is elected Philanthropist of the Year for his work through the Dyson
Antarctica Solo project for Breakthrough Breast Cancer.
James Dyson is made a Doctor of Science by Oxford Brookes University.
James Dyson wins the Prince Philip Designers Prize.
November 1997 Chris Smith, Minister for Culture, opens the Dyson Centre for Design
Education and Training at the Design Museum.
Huddersfield University Business School awards James an honorary doctorate of science.
December 1997 Turnover of Dyson is £149 million. Worldwide annual sales reach £210
January 1998 James Dyson is awarded a CBE in the New Year's Honours
Dyson sets up subsidiary office in Germany
April 1998 Tony Blair announces that DC02 has been selected as one of the first Millennium
May 1998 James Dyson opens the 'Englishman at Home" exhibition at Purves and Purves -
an exhibition of products designed and manufactured in Britain.
July 1998 James Dyson presents the James Dyson Product Design Award at New Designers
graduate show. Dyson continues to give this award and sponsor the product design pavilion
at the show.
James Dyson is made an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.
September 1998 Dyson opens a subsidiary in Spain
October 1998 James Dyson speaks at the IPPR meeting at the Labour Party Conference
November 1998 Launch of DC05.
James Dyson speaks at the CBI conference alongside Peter Mandelson.
James Dyson receives Doctor of Science from Bradford University.
James Dyson becomes Patron of The Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, London
James Dyson becomes a member of the Council of the Royal College of Art
December 1998 Dyson opens a subsidiary in Japan
Turnover of Dyson is £190 million. Worldwide annual sales reach £320 million.
January 1999 James Dyson appointed as Chairman of the Design Museum.
Dyson wins a place in the 1998 listing of Europe's 500. The listing ranks companies
according to their job creation and turnover growth.
February 1999 Launch of DC04
March 99 James Dyson receives Doctor of Engineering from West of England University
December 99 DC06 - Dual Cyclone™ robotic vacuum cleaner goes on home trial amid
January 2000 DC05 Clear wins Japan's Super Good of the Year 1999 Silver Prize.
In France DC05 is chosen as one of the Etoiles de l'Observeur du Design - one of the stars
of the prestigious Paris design show.
Sir Richard Needham is appointed deputy chairman of Dyson
James is patron of the Meningitis Research Foundation
March 2000 James gives the RSA Lord Reilly Commemorative Lecture
James is patron of the National Association of Inspectors and Advisers in Design and
April 2000 DC04 wins the Mingay 2000 award in Australia for best floorcare product awarded
by Australia's electrical retailers.
June 2000 The Daily Telegraph newspaper publishes "James Dyson's History of Great
Inventions" - a six part series in the Weekend Telegraph.
July 2000 DC04 Zorbster is launched - the first Dual Cyclone™ integrated carpet cleaning
October 2000 James Dyson receives the Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran Prize and gives lecture at
the Royal Society
November 2000 Dyson launches the Contrarotator™ - the world's first washing machine with
2 drums rotating in opposite directions.
The Dyson DC06 receives l'Etoile de l'Observeur du Design 2001in the Mobilite category.
December 2000 The Contrarotator™ wins the Kitchens, Bathrooms and Bedrooms Review
award for Appliance Innovation
Dyson Austria opens.
Dyson Demo opens in Paris: a space where Dyson displays its own specially created
exhibitions to explain the design, engineering, manufacture and technology of Dyson
March 2001 The Contrarotator™ wins Homes and Gardens Magazine's Classic Design
April 2001 New Root8Cyclone™ technology launched: The Dyson DCO7, the most powerful
vacuum cleaner with constant suction.
Sept 2001 The book 'James Dyson's History of Great Inventions' is published.
June 2002 DCO8 vacuum cleaner is launched - the new Dyson cylinder with
Nov 2002 Dyson launches in America and receives an enthusiastic welcome.
March 2003 Dyson begins its campaign to raise £1 million for CLIC, with the Colour My
Dyson competition to choose the colours of the next limited edition Dyson charity vacuum
May 2003 James Dyson and Jim Honey design a garden for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show
called 'The Wrong Garden'. It wins a gold medal.
July 2003 Dyson receives the Queen's Award for Innovation. James and two Dyson design
engineers attend the ceremony at Buckingham Palace.