Sir James Dyson

Sir James Dyson presenting supersonic hair dryer


Jason Kempin/Stringer/Getty Images

British industrial designer, Sir James Dyson is best known as the inventor of the Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner, which works on the principle of cyclonic separation. In layman's terms, James Dyson invented a vacuum cleaner that wouldn't lose suction as it picked up dirt, for which he received a ​U.S. patent in 1986 (U.S. Patent 4,593,429). James Dyson is also well known for his manufacturing company Dyson, which he founded after failing to sell his vacuum cleaner invention to the major manufacturers of vacuum cleaners. James Dyson's company now outsells most of his competition.

James Dyson's Early Products

The bagless vacuum cleaner was not Dyson's first invention. In 1970, while he was still a student at London's Royal College of Art, James Dyson co-invented the Sea Truck, with sales amounting to 500 million. The Sea Truck was a flat-hulled, high-speed watercraft that could land without a harbor or jetty. Dyson also produced: the Ballbarrow, a modified wheelbarrow with a ball replacing the wheel, the Trolleyball (also with a ball) which was a trolley that launched boats, and the land & seafaring capable Wheelboat.

Inventing Cyclonic Separation

In the late 1970s, James Dyson began inventing cyclonic separation to create a vacuum cleaner that would not lose suction as it cleaned, inspired by his Hoover brand vacuum cleaner that kept clogging and losing suction as it cleaned. Adapting technology from the air filter in his Ballbarrow factory's spray-finishing room, and supported by his wife's art teacher salary, Dyson made 5172 prototypes to perfect his bright pink G-Force cleaner in 1983, that was first sold by catalog in Japan. (see additional images for photo)

Say Goodbye to the Bag

James Dyson was unable to sell his new bagless vacuum cleaner design to an outside manufacturer or find a UK distributor as he originally intended, in part because nobody wanted to rock the huge market for replacement cleaner bags. Dyson manufactured and distributed his own product and a brilliant television advertising campaign (Say Goodbye to the Bag) that emphasized the end to replacement bags sold Dyson vacuum cleaners to consumers and sales grew.

Patent Infringement

However, success often leads to copycats. Other vacuum cleaner manufacturers began to market their own version of a bagless vacuum cleaner. James Dyson had to sue Hoover UK for patent infringement winning $5 million in damages.

James Dyson's Latest Inventions

In 2005, James Dyson adapted the wheel ball technology from his Ballbarrow into a vacuum cleaner and invented the Dyson Ball. In 2006, Dyson launched the Dyson Airblade, a fast hand dryer for public bathrooms. Dyson's most recent invention is a fan without external blades, the Air Multiplier. Dyson first introduced Air Multiplier technology in October 2009 offering the first real innovation in fans in more than 125 years. Dyson’s patented technology replaces fast-spinning blades and awkward grilles with loop amplifiers.

Personal Life

Sir James Dyson was born on May 2, 1947, in Cromer, Norfolk, England. He was one of three children, whose father was Alec Dyson.

James Dyson attended Gresham's School in Holt, Norfolk, from 1956 to 1965. He attended the Byam Shaw School of Art from 1965 to 1966. He attended the Royal College of Art in London from 1966 to 1970 and studied furniture and interior design. He went on to study engineering.

In 1968, Dyson married Deirdre Hindmarsh, an art teacher. The couple has three children: Emily, Jacob, and Sam.

In 1997, James Dyson was awarded the Prince Phillip Designers Prize. In 2000, he received the Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran Award. In 2005, he was elected as a Fellow at The Royal Academy of Engineering. He was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the New Year's Honours December 2006.

In 2002, Dyson set up the James Dyson Foundation to support design and engineering education among young people.


  • "I just want things to work properly."
  • "A lot of people give up when the world seems to be against them, but that's the point when you should push a little harder. I use the analogy of running a race. It seems as though you can’t carry on, but if you just get through the pain barrier, you'll see the end and be okay. Often, just around the corner is where the solution will happen."
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Bellis, Mary. "Sir James Dyson." ThoughtCo, Jul. 31, 2021, Bellis, Mary. (2021, July 31). Sir James Dyson. Retrieved from Bellis, Mary. "Sir James Dyson." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 3, 2023).