drill and variations to the basic drill/driver in both corded and
cordless versions, all designed for professional tool users.
Bosch introduced an electropneumatic, handheld rotary
hammer in 1932 and, soon thereafter, produced its first electric
drills. Bosch launched the Brute breaker hammer in 1950, and
the company introduced its first cordless drill in 1978. The first
Bosch cordless hammer drill came to market in 1984.
In 2005, Milwaukee introduced lithium-ion batteries,
leading to a fundamental shift in cordless-tool technology.
The batteries contributed to a change in form, features and
function. Since then, significant advances in tool and battery
electronics—coupled with advancements in lithium-ion batteries—have changed the possibilities for drills and other cordless
tools. Lithium-ion batteries have significantly improved, and
toolmakers aggressively promote their battery brands.
In 2004, Makita developed a brushless motor for a fastening tool for the defense and aerospace industries, and, in 2009,
Makita introduced an impact driver with a brushless motor.
Manufacturers say tools with brushless motors have as much
or more power than tools with conventional “brushed” motors.
They also operate more efficiently and are more durable.
This year, Milwaukee unveiled One-Key “smart” tools,
including drills. Such a tool can remember settings that
achieved the best results, tell the user how it’s performing and
how to maximize its potential, and interact with One-Key’s tool
management system, so the user can locate it in real time.
Black + Decker
and De Walt
Ultimately, Black + Decker
entered the profes-
sional tool market in 1991
through De Walt. The com-
pany had acquired De Walt more than 30 years before, when it
was best known for its radial-arm saw. De Walt continued to
add shop and plant tools to its product line. In 1989, De Walt
stopped North American production of its radial-arm saws due
to dwindling demand.
“For a time, DeWalt was near dormant,” said Chris Kef-
fer, De Walt vice president. “In 1991, the decision was made
to relaunch the De Walt brand with a new line of professional
Soon after, De Walt introduced power tools and accessories
designed specifically for professionals. Electric drills were a
key element in the product line. Also included was the first
combination drill/driver hammer drill.
Two years later, De Walt launched a cordless power tool system with more than 30 new cordless tools that included drill/
drivers and the first combination drill/driver hammer drill,
along with saws and a variety of other products.
History repeats with new innovations
The history of this tool is full of major breakthroughs.
“The increases in voltages changed the landscape of what
drills could do,” Keffer said. “With more power, chuck designs
changed, especially for electricians. The lithium-ion battery for
tools was a big breakthrough in the cordless power-tool market,
and brushless motors provide more power, more run time, and,
in some cases, more control.”
Today, the De Walt Power Tools line consists of more than
200 power tools and more than 800 accessories.
Today’s varied electric drill products range from 12-volt
(V) “pocket” drills to powerful 18V drill drivers. Specialty
products have evolved, including hammer drills and rotary
hammers with built-in LED lights to illuminate the work area.
“Smart” drills automatically adjust the power draw to the task
at hand and wirelessly communicate information about the
tool to the user and cloud-based tool-management program.
While these tools have changed radically over the years, certain design elements have remained the same. For example, Mr.
Black and Mr. Decker probably could never have imagined that,
100 years later, even the most modern tools have pistol-style
grips and trigger controls.
GRI FFI N, a construction and tools writer from Oklahoma City, can
be reached at email@example.com.
Black + Decker’s first drill, 1916
Black + Decker filed a
design patent in 1916
and a utility patent