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Editor's Note: This is the second of five parts of our feature, The History of Pumps. This timeline was developed through research, credible sources and the knowledge of friends in the industry, The history of pumps is long and illustrious. This account represents highlights of some of the major historical and technological developments. We welcome your contributions.

UPDATED 2018: See a graph containing the pumps throughout history.

2000 BC Egyptians invent the shadoof to raise water. It uses a long suspended rod with a bucket at one end and a weight at the other. 

200 BC Greek inventor and mathematician Ctesibius invents the water organ, an air pump with valves on the bottom, a tank of water in between them and a row of pipes on top. This is the principal design that is now known as the reciprocating pump.

200 BC Archimedean screw pump is designed by Archimedes is considered one of the greatest inventions of all time and is still in use today for pumping liquids and granulated solids in both the industrialized world and in the third world—where it is a preferred way to irrigate agricultural fields without electrical pumps. 

1475 According to Reti, the Brazilian soldier and historian of science, the first machine that could be characterized as a centrifugal pump was a mud lifting machine that appeared in a treatise by the Italian Renaissance engineer Francesco di Giorgio Martini. 

1588 Sliding vane water pump technology is described by Italian engineer Agostino Ramelli in his book “The Diverse and Artifactitious Machines of Captain Agostino Ramelli,” which also included other pump and engine designs. 

1593 Frenchman Nicolas Grollier de Servière creates an early design for a gear pump. 

1636 Pappenheim, a German engineer, invents the double deep-toothed rotary gear pump, which is still used to lubricate engines. This gear pump made it possible to dispense with the reciprocating slide valves used by Ramelli. Pappenheim drove his machine by an overshot water wheel set in motion by a stream and was used to feed water fountains.  The emperor Ferdinand II granted him a “privilege” - the equivalent of a patent - in respect of this invention. 

1650 Otto van Guericke invents the piston vacuum pump, which used leather washers to prevent leakage between the cylinder and the piston. 

1675 Sir Samuel Moreland—an English academic, diplomat, spy, inventor and mathematician—patents the packed plunger pump, capable of raising great quantities of water with far less proportion of strength than a chain or other pump. The piston had a leather seal. Moreland's pump may have been the first use of a piston rod and stuffing box (packed in a cylinder) to displace water.

1687 French-born inventor Denis Papin develops the first true centrifugal pump, one with straight vanes used for local drainage.

1738 In fluid dynamics, Bernoulli's principle states that for an inviscid flow, an increase in the speed of the fluid occurs simultaneously with a decrease in pressure or a decrease in the fluid's potential energy. It is named after the Dutch-Swiss mathematician Daniel Bernoulli, who published it in a book “Hydrodynamica.” The principle is applied to various types of fluid flow and is loosely known as Bernoulli's equation. 

Peerless large split case design from the 1940s being installed in the field. Peerless Pump photo courtesy of Grundfos. 

1782 James Watt—who invented the steam engine's connecting rod crank mechanism, which made it possible to convert the piston's reciprocating motion into rotary motion—designs an oscillating piston machine in which a wing-shaped rotary blade made a near complete revolution uncovering inlet ports in a chamber separated by a curved radial wall.

1790 Briton Thomas Simpson harnesses steam power to pumping engines for municipal water applications and founds the London company Simpson and Thompson Co. (predecessor to Worthington Simpson).

1830 Modern screw pump is invented by Revillion.

1845 Henry R. Worthington invents the first direct-acting steam pumping engine. Worthington Pump designed its first products to power canal boats and U.S. naval vessels. Worthington later pioneered pump designs for boiler feed, oil pipeline and hydro-electric applications.

1848 In Seneca Falls, N.Y., Seabury S. Gould purchases the interests of Edward Mynderse and H.C. Silsby in Downs, Mynderse & Co., forming Downs & Co., later known as Goulds Manufacturing Company.

1849 Goulds casts and assembles the world's first all-metal pump.

1851 British inventor John Appold introduces the curved vane centrifugal pump.

Seabury S. Gould, 1848. Photo courtesy of Goulds Pumps.

1851 John Gwynne files his first centrifugal pump patent. His early pumps were used primarily for land drainage, and many can still be seen today in pump house museums. They were usually powered by Gwynnes' steam engines. By the end of the 19th century, Gwynne was producing pumps of all sizes to cover all industrial applications, from small electric pumps to those rated at 1,000 tons per minute. His company had also begun to produce scientific pumps, e.g., porcelain pumps for chemical works. In the 1930s they were producing almost 1,000 different models.

1857 Worthington produces the first horizontal, duplex, direct-acting steam pumps for boiler feed.

1859 Jacob Edson invents the diaphragm pump and founds the Edson Corporation in Boston, Mass., to manufacture and sell his pump.

1860 Adam Cameron founds the Cameron Steam Pump Works, and becomes another pioneer in reciprocating steam pump engines. Like Worthington, Cameron's first products were used to power merchant marine and U.S. naval vessels. Cameron pumps were later applied in water resources, oil pipeline and refining and boiler feed.

1868 Stork Pompen of Hengelo, Netherlands, pioneers the concrete volute pump for water drainage.

1869 Downs & Company changes its name to Goulds Manufacturing Company. 

1870 UK Professor Osborne Reynolds develops an original design of a centrifugal pump.

1871 Johannes Klein receives a patent on his “boiler feed apparatus.” With Friedrich Schanzlin and Jakob Becker, he founds the company “Frankenthaler Maschinen- & Armatur-Fabrik Klein, Schanzlin & Becker” (now known as KSB) to manufacture boiler feed equipment and valves.

1874 Charles Barnes of New Brunswick invents the vane pump.

1874 Wilson-Snyder grows into the premier line of slurry, pipeline and refinery pumps. 

1874 Gotthard Allweiler invents and produces a series of hand wing pumps.

1886 Jens Nielsen, founder of Viking Pump Company, invents the internal gear pumping principal while designing a pump to remove excess water that was seeping into his limestone quarry from a nearby creek.

1886 United Centrifugal Pumps is incorporated. It becomes the world's foremost supplier of high-pressure crude oil and refined product pipeline pumps.

A single and two stage pipeline pump assembly in the 1960s at the Ruhrpumpen plant in Witten, Germany. Photo courtesy of Ruhrpumpen.

1897 Preston K. Wood makes the first deep well turbine pump in Los Angeles, Calif.

1899 Robert Blackmer invents rotary vane pump technology, a pump design that was an important departure from the old gear principle and predecessor to today's sliding vane pumps. 

1900 Siemens files the first German patent for liquid ring vacuum pumps and compressors.

1901 Byron Jackson develops the first deep well vertical turbine pump.

1902 Aldrich Pump Company begins manufacturing the world's first line of reciprocating positive displacement pumps for steel mills and mine dewatering.

1904 Jens Nielsen enlists George “Shorty” Mathes to construct his gear pump design.

1905 Multistage centrifugal pumps are developed.

1905 Two Goulds triplex pumps are installed in the New York Times building, accomplishing the highest lift of water to date—387 feet, 6 inches.

1906 André Petit invents the eccentric disc pump and starts his company, Mouvex, in Paris.

1908 Western Land Roller pioneers the design and manufacture of irrigation pumps.

1908 Hayward Tyler creates its first electric motor for use under water and develops the wet stator motor for use as a boiler circulation glandless motor-pump.

1910 Lewis H. Nash files the first U.S. patent for liquid ring vacuum pumps and compressors.

1911 Jens Nielsen builds the first internal gear pump, founding the Viking Pump Company. The Viking Rotary “Gear-Within-A-Gear” pump (the first of its kind) is placed on the market.

1912 Durion, a universally corrosion-resistant material, is invented by the Duriron Castings Company (later known as Durco Pump) and is applied to process equipment.

1913 Inventor and engineer Albert Baldwin Wood invents the Wood screw pump.

1915 Viking Pump Company wins the Panama Pacific Award for internal gear design.

1915 Albert Baldwin Wood invents the Wood trash pump. Wood spearheads the reclamation from swamp and the efforts to develop much of the land now occupied by the city of New Orleans. Some of Wood's pumps have been in continuous use for more than 80 years without need of repairs. New ones continue to be built from his designs.

1916 Aldrich produces the first direct motor-driven reciprocating pump.

1916 While Armais Sergeevich Arutunoff first invented submersible pumps in Russia in 1916, their use in the United States did not begin until the 1950s.  Arutunoff first designed his pump for use in ships, water wells and mines. He altered the design to work in oil wells. Thanks to further refinements to Arutunoff's design, there are more types of submersible pumps, allowing use in other applications such as pumping drinking water, creating fountains and pumping wastewater.

1916 The first DORRCOTM Suction Pump is built by Dorr-Oliver Pump Company for the mineral process industry.

1917 Hydraulic Institute is established.

1917 Louis Bergeron invents the concrete volute pump and founds Bergeron S.A. 

1918 Byron Jackson produces the first hot oil pumps for the petroleum industry.

1920 Viking builds its first domestic oil burner pump using a mechanical seal.

1921 Harry LaBour founds LaBour Pump Company. A pioneer in the development of pumps for the chemical industry, LaBour developed corrosion-resistant alloys to incorporate into his pumps. Until his time, sulfuric acid was always pumped with lead pumps, the only known material that could handle certain concentrations of the acid.

1921 Jeumont-Schneider begins manufacturing water and slurry pumps in Jeumont, France. It later develops solids-handling pumps and segmental ring section multistage pumps.

1921 Dorr-Oliver Pump Company develops the OLIVITE series of centrifugals for slurry transfer.

1923 Byron Jackson demonstrates the first use of centrifugal pumps for oil pipeline and the first automatic booster station. 

1923 Ruthman Companies designs the world’s first sealless vertical pump.

1924 Durco Pump introduces the world's first pump specifically designed for chemical processing. It would go on to establish undisputed global leadership in ANSI pump design.

1926 Pacific Pump Company produces the first hot oil double casing pump.

1926 O.H. Dorer receives a patent for the first inducer, which reduces the required NPSH. Inducers did not become incorporated into standard pump lines until the 1960s.

1927 Viking introduces a line of hazardous liquid pumps for use in the fuel oil market.

1927 Aldrich produces the first variable stroke multi-cylinder reciprocating pump.

1928 Worthington-Simpson produces the world's largest steam-driven pumping engine for municipal water supply.

1929 Pleuger incorporates in Berlin, Germany. Its first offerings are submersible motor pumps for dewatering in the construction of underground railways and subways. Pleuger pioneers the first successful application of submersible motor pumps in offshore service.

1929 Byron Jackson uses the first double casing feed pump in a power plant.

1929 Stork Pompen produces the first concrete volute pump for drainage, integrating the pump housing in the civil construction of the pumping station.

1930 While inventing a compressor for jet engines, aviation pioneer René Moineau discovers that this principle could also work as a pumping system.The University of Paris awarded Moineau a doctorate of science for his thesis on “the new capsulism.” His pioneering dissertation laid the groundwork for the progressing cavity pump. 

1933 The original version of the Bush Pump is designed as a closed-top cylinder pump. In 1960 the design was modernized. The base of the well was from then on bolted to the well casing and got its current name, The Zimbabwe Bush Pump, the National Standard for hand pumps in Zimbabwe. After Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, the government creates its own modernized version of the pump, B-type Zimbabwe Bush Pump. The pump is today regarded as a national treasure. In 1997, it was pictured on a postal stamp.

1933 J.C. Gorman and Herb Rupp introduce a pump with a “non-clogging” feature. It outperforms any other self-priming centrifugal pump previously invented. The company Gorman-Rupp is established.

1936 Robert Sheen invents the metering pump. The core of his invention was a method of controlled volume that was inherent to the pump. The first pumps were assembled in the basement of his father, Milton Roy Sheen's, home, where the initial patterns for castings were made.

1936 Robbins & Myers acquires the North American license for the Moineau progressing cavity pump and brands it with the name Moyno. 

1937 IDP produces the first radially split, pull-from-the-rear process pump.

1937 Worthington produces the world's first hydraulic decoking systems.

1937-1939 Smith Precision Products Company (Smith Pumps) designs three pumps, two of which (models 300 and 200) were specifically designed for LP-gas transfer.

1939 Durco invents Alloy 20, which is the standard industrial material for corrosive surfaces.

1939 Dorr-Oliver Pump Company develops the Oliver Diaphragm Slurry pump for slurry transfer. Originally designed for mining slurry transfer with their associated acids, it developed into a Primary Sludge Underflow Pump for the wastewater industry starting in the 1970s after the Clean Water Act.

1939 Smith Precision Products Company develops the first liquefied gas transfer pump for LP-gas.

1940 Reuben Smith, of Smith Precision Products Company (Smith Pumps), receives the first approval for an LP-gas pump from the California Industrial Accident Commission. This was for the model 4X pump and the approval was a "suitable for use" certificate.

1941 British Pump Manufacturers Association is founded.

1942 The Gorman-Rupp team creates the first commercially available solids-handling trash pump to respond to the contractor's need for a pump to withstand the considerable rigors of pumping out trash-laden septic tanks, cesspools and outhouses.

1944 During World War II, Goulds extra-quiet trim pumps are installed in every U.S. Navy submarine. That year, 157 Goulds men went to war and 157 women took their places on the Goulds manufacturing floor. Goulds earned the prestigious Army-Navy “E” Award that year for outstanding production of war materials.

1947 Flygt's Sixten Englesson, a master of engineering, develops a prototype for the first submersible drainage pump, which is later known as the “parrot cage,” or B-pump, used in mining for construction.

1948 Smith Precision Products Company receives the patent for the first mechanical seal supplied for liquefied gas transfer pumps. It was first put into production in 1947.

1949 HMD Pumps invents and engineers the world's first magnet drive pump.


1950  Vanton develops the Flex-i-liner sealless self-priming rotary pump which handles corrosive, abrasive and viscous fluids as well as those that must be transferred free of product contamination.

1954 World’s first atomic-powered submarine is equipped with Ingersoll-Rand boiler-feed pumps and compressors.

1954 Blackmer invents and manufactures a positive displacement pump for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

1954 Smith Precision Products Company (Smith Pumps) begins working with the Underwriters Laboratories to develop their first Standard for liquefied gas pumps, UL-51, which is still in use today.

1954 Worthington produces the world's first high speed (9,000 rpm) boiler feed pumps.

In 1955, Jim Wilden invented air-operated double-diaphragm pump technology. It had the right air valve and diaphragms needed and was tough and versatile enough to meet the stringent demands of the mining and heavy-construction industries. During the 1980s, Wilden introduced plastic AODD pumps that have the ability to stand up to the harsh operating conditions and corrosive media transferred throughout the global chemical market. Photo courtest of Wilden.

1955 Jim Wilden invents the air-operated double-diaphragm (AODD) pump technology.

1956 Sixten Englesson develops for Stenberg-Flygt AB the submersible sewage pump, called the C-pump, with a discharge connection and level regulator.

1956 Smith & Loveless engineer Frank Weis develops the water industry's first true solids handling, non-clog pump.

1957 Ruhrpumpen Gmbh begins the production of process pumps under the license of Pacific.

1959 Viking Pump Company launches abrasive liquid heavy-duty pumps and handles the printing ink for more than half of the major U.S. newspapers.

1960s New lines of industrial pumps are developed by Goulds Pumps, including large double suction pumps, higher pressure pumps and non-metallic pumps. In home water systems, the jet water system is improved and a complete line of submersible pumps is completed.

1960 Europump is established.

1960 Development of GIW trademark GASITE hard iron for longer wearing pumps and parts.

1960 Hydraulic Slide Rule invented and copyrighted by GIW vice president and inventor Danforth Hagler.

1962 Sundstrand develops the first Sundyne high-speed centrifugal pump and sells it to Shell Chemical.

1962 Grundfos places the first circulator pump into the market with variable speed regulation.

1964 In cooperation with German chemical companies, KSB develops the CPK standardized chemical pump series to satisfy a newly-published standard.

1965 Warren Rupp's heavy-duty, diverse AODD pump is introduced to the industrial market to address the vigorous demands of the steel mills and other industrial market applications.

1968 Durco produces the first fully-lined PTFE chemical processing pump.

Above: Blackmer sliding vane hand pumps used for the transfer of solvents by Pan Am in the 1950s. Photo courtest of Blackmer.

Below: Marvin and Kathryn Summerfield founded Cascade Pump Company in 1948. They are pictured here at an industry tradeshow in the early 1950s. Photo courtesy of Cascade Pump Company.



1968 Gorman-Rupp produces the first fiberglass, below-ground, factory-built sewage pumping station.

1968 The ownership of Stenberg-Flygt AB is transferred to the American multinational enterprise ITT (International Telephone & Telegraph Corporation). Prior to this transfer, Stenberg-Flygt AB, AB Flygts Pumpar and Flygt International AB are consolidated as a single company.

1969 Mouvex launches the first sealless rotary pump not based on magnets.

1969 Gusher designs the 7800 series for the filter & washer industry.

1970s Viking introduces spur gear line of pumps, which is the company's largest selling OEM pump.

1970s Gorman-Rupp invents the bellows-metering pump and the oscillating pump, while the Mansfield Division acquires the Roto-Prime pump.

1970 Smith & Loveless engineer Frank Weis designs the first-ever above-grade sewage pump lift station. 

1971 Gusher develops a purge hole system that enabled pumps to handle up to 30 to 40 percent entrained air.

1973 Frank Weis pioneers the first-ever vortex grit removal system for wastewater treatment plants. 

1973 KSB launches the BOA-H, the first maintenance-free, standard cast iron valve.

1978 KSB puts the BOA-W line onto the valve market. The first soft-seated standard valve is able to cope with dirt in the fluid. 

1979 Gusher develops multistage pumps for higher pressures required by the machine tool industry and the worlds first top pull-out pump.

1980s Viking introduces the Universal Seal and Viking Mag Drive lines of internal gear pumps—both the first of their kind in the industry.

1980s Gorman-Rupp unveils the nutating pump, a special purpose small pump used in health care applications; additional energy-efficient, self-priming centrifugal pumps; a series of lightweight portable pumps and high-pressure pumps with the first digital-control panels.

1980s Electronic controls enter the industry to make pumps more energy efficient.

1980s GIW develops wear modeling technology for predicting pump performance.

1984 First Texas A&M Pump Users Symposium is held.

1984 Scienco produces the first specialized positive displacement pumps specifically designed for agricultural applications.

1985 Sims manufactures the first structural composite pump, all Simsite Vertical Pit Pump. Sims later won the Innovative Product Award for these products in 1990.

1989 Sier-Bath incorporates the first application of multiphase pumps in paper stock.

1990s First hard metal slurry pump for hydraulic transport of oil sands tallings.

In 1933, J.C. Gorman and Herb Rupp introduced a pump which had a "non-clogging" feature. Their competitors claimed the pump would not work in a savage public awareness campaign to discredit the new design, which resulted in about $100,00 worth of "free advertising." At least one customer was willing to try it. National Ice Company purchased the first pump, and the company Gorman-Rupp was established. Photo courtesy of Gorman-Rupp Company. 

1994 Two new major products are introduced by Goulds Pumps, the Industrial Model 3298 Magnetic Drive Pump and the Water Technologies Model GS “Global Submersible.”

1994 Sims receives the honor of approval from the United States Navy for composite centrifugal pump intervals. Simsite was tested and qualified for centrifugal pump replacement parts and was the first composite to be certified.

1994 Baha Abulnaga invents the slurry and froth pump with  a split vane impeller. The split impeller helps to reduce recirculation in slurry pumps by dividing the space between the main vanes without reducing the passageway at the narrowest point, which is the eye of the impeller. In froth pumps, it helps to break up air bubbles that form and tend to block the flow.

1995 Sims manufactures the largest structural composite pumps in the world - two Simsite vertical turbine pumps for Potomac Electric Power Company. They are 40 feet long and 3 feet in diameter.

1997 ITT Industries acquires Goulds Pumps, making ITT the world's largest pump company.

1999 PumpSmart is introduced at the ChemShow in New York.

2000s Computer designed LCC rubber-lined pump introduced to the market by GIW.

2000s Innovated “slurry diverter” developed by GIW to improve wear.

2001 Flowserve introduces its MSP (medium speed pump) with variable frequency drive.

2001 KSB presents the first "intelligent" submersible motor pump. Ama-Porter ICS is sensor-controlled and needs no float switches.

2002 Siemens (elmo division, liquid ring pumps) merges with Nash.

2002 Sims introduces the first structural composite vertical in-line pumps.

2003 Sims becomes the first company to have composite pumps and baseplates, shock and vibration qualified by the United States Navy.

2006 Sims manufactures the largest structural composite centrifugal impeller in the world. This huge impeller was installed in a cooling tower pump for Puerto Rican Electrical Power Company. It is 50 inches in diameter and consumes 2,000 horsepower.

2006 Allweiler designs and produces a high-tech EMTEC-A pump designed specifically for moving emulsions and cooling lubricants.

2008 Dover Corporation creates The Pump Solutions Group, a conglomeration of Wilden, Blackmer, Mouvex, Neptune, Almatec and Griswold pump companies.

2010 Sims designs and engineers the first structural composite anti-heeling pump manufactured for NCL Cruise lines.

2011 ITT Corporations spins off into three separately traded companies, creating Xylem, Inc., the world's largest water technology company.


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