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November 2015

Conrad JobstGreat Inventor and Stocking Maker

Author Affiliations
  • 1Retired
  • 2Department of Dermatology, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque
  • 3private practice
JAMA Dermatol. 2015;151(11):1243. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2014.3905

Most dermatologists have some familiarity with Jobst stockings as a mainstay of therapy of chronic venous insufficiency, but how many of us know anything about the man who invented them?

Conrad Jobst (1889-1957) was a German tool and die maker, not a university-trained engineer, who showed a very early aptitude for machine design. He immigrated to the United States in 1911 and by 1913 was chief engineer for Ames-Bonner Brush Company in Toledo, Ohio. Here he helped revolutionize an item everyone uses daily—the toothbrush. Up until this point, toothbrushes were hand-made, often with bone handles and pig bristles. Jobst used newly developed celluloid for the entire product and designed machines to shape and bore the handle as well as automatically insert the many rows of uniform artificial bristles. The modern toothbrush was born. Jobst would have no trouble recognizing today’s toothbrushes or the machines used to make them.1

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