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The History of Soldering
A brief history of the Electric Soldering Iron and Soldering Gun
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The History of Soldering Irons and Soldering Guns
Soldering irons have been around for over 4,000 years. Up until the late 1800s they were heated by open flame or burning coals. Typically irons were made with a wooden or iron handle and copper tip.
1800s Soldering Iron

1894   
The American Electrical Heater Company of Detroit Michigan begins manufacturing electric soldering irons. Shortly after the American Beauty® line of soldering irons appears. American Beauty Soldering Iron


1921   
Ernst Sachs (Germany) claims to have developed the first electric soldering iron for industry (see note below) and ERSA begins commercial production of a 200 watt electric soldering iron. ERSA Soldering Iron

Note: I have found an advertisement from 1898 in a issue of "The Electrical Engineer" Vol. XXIV showing a drawing and description of the American Electrical Heater Company's electric soldering iron which pre dates Ernst Sachs electric soldering iron by 23 years.
I also have an early electric soldering iron manufactured by GE with patent dates earlier than 1921.

1926   
In December of 1926 William Alferink files for a U.S. patent for a "Combined Holder and Automatic Circuit Breaker for Electric Soldering Irons" (first soldering station?). On July third, 1928 the patent is granted.
William Alferink Patent

1937   
In 1937 Supreme Instruments of Greenwood Mississippi produces the first "Pistol Grip" soldering iron specifically designed for radio repair.
Supreme Instruments Radio Soldering Iron

1946   
Weller

Carl E. Weller is granted a patent in 1946 for his instant heat soldering gun and starts production as the Weller Manufacturing Company in Easton Pennsylvania where he manufactures the first "Speedy Iron" instant heat soldering gun.
First Soldering Gun - The Speedy Iron

1949   
The American Beauty "Temperature Regulating Stands" are sold to control the temperature of electric soldering irons.
American Beauty Temperature Regulating Stand

1951   
In 1951 WEN Products is founded and manufacturers their own instant heat soldering iron.

1954
Weller sues WEN Products in 1954 over soldering gun patent infringement.
Court finds in Weller's favor. [More Details]
WEN Soldering Gun

1960   
Weller is granted a patent in 1960 for the "Magnastat" soldering iron which controls the iron's temperature through the use of a temperature sensitive magnetic tip.
Weller Magnastat Soldering Iron

1967   
In 1967 Weller begins manufacturing it's W-TCP series soldering stations with a "Magnastat" iron.

Early Weller Soldering Station

1970   
Weller Manufacturing Company is sold to Cooper Industries.


Today   
Precision programmable and temperature adjustable Soldering Stations are required for
micro-soldering of static sensitive and surface mount components.

Weller WX Series Programmable Digital Soldering Stations
Weller WX Series Digital Soldering Station

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