Rooted in History. Focused on the Future.

Gardner Denver and its family of renowned brands look back on a proud history - from the beginnings in the mid-1800s as the manufacturer of the Flyball Governor, the first effective speed controls for steam engines, to the presence as a global corporation with a diversified product portfolio and operations in over 30 countries. At the same time, we are focused on the future, driven to further raise the bar.

Use the interactive timeline below to scroll through Gardner Denver's historic milestones or click on the "Read more" icons to explore our history in more depth.


Invention of the Flyball Governor, the first effective speed controls for steam engines. Foundation of Gardner Governor Co.

Robert Gardner invents the first effective speed controls for steam engines, known as the Flyball Governor. Foundation of the Gardner Governor Company in Quincy, Illinois, USA, on the banks of the Mississippi.

1859 preview robertgardner


More than 150,000 Governors are sold across the USA and Canada.

Read More 

1900s preview governor


German-based Elmo is granted the Imperial Patent for the world's first liqid ring vacuum pump.

Read More

1903 machine preview


Launch of the first vacuum cleaner using an Elmo pump.

1906 vacuum cleaner preview


Karl Wittig develops patent for sliding vane compressor; five years later licensed as "System Wittig"

Read More 

1903 patent preview (1)


Gardner Governor Co. merges with Denver Rock Drill Co. to form Gardner Denver.

Read More

1927 preview


German Werner Rietschle founds Werie, soon knowns for its oil-lubricated and oil-free rotary vane vacuum  technology. 

Read More

1950 werie preview


Continued expansion in North America through several periods of acquisitions.

Read More 

preview 1050s 60s


UK-based Drum introduces world's first mass-produced, oil-free 2.5 bar compressor fot the transport industry.

Read More

1960 drum preview


First Elmo side channel blower introduced.

Read More 

1963 sidechannel preview


UK-based CompAir is founded.

Read More 


1968 compair preview


Public listing as Gardner Denver, Inc. on the NYSE.



1990s - Present

Further global expansion through wave of acquisitions, including renowned brands CompAir, Elmo, Rietschle, Tamrotor, and Robuschi.

Read More 


1990 present preview

Early 2000s

Gardner Denver has firmly established itself as a global provider of compressed air and vacuum technology.

Learn More 


2000s preview globe