Back in 1930, a young boy went to the circus with his family. He was enthralled by the aerial acts, but more than their in-air stunts, he was fascinated by the way they dropped into the safety net after the act was over, finishing off with flourishes as they bounced back into the air.
That memory never left George Nissen of Iowa, who went on to tumbling and diving exploits while in high school. The sports gave him the same opportunity for artistic touches and freedom of movement, although they ended either on a hard floor, or in the water.
Still, when Nissen graduated at the age of 16, he took some time off before university, to start tinkering in his garage with the idea that had been simmering in his mind since that visit to the circus- a bouncing “table", that would put him back up into the air.
With the help of friends to weld the frame, and stretch tent grade canvas on it, he soon had his first “bouncing rig". Nissen then went off to college, but continued to toy with the size and other aspects of design, eventually taking one to summer camp where he worked. The rig was an instant hit with the kids who would rather play on it, than take a break from the sweltering heat by going swimming.
Nissen refined his athletic skills at university, and after he earned a degree, he and two other gymnasts formed the Three Leonardos, a tumbling and balancing act that did small town tours. While in Mexico, they swam at the Y where they learned that the diving board was called “el trampolin". Nissen anglicized the word to trampoline and patented it for his new invention.
While their performances did result in orders, by the time WWII broke out, Nissen had bought his partners shares in the company. Then he went on to promote the device himself, selling around 100 to military sources for training pilots and parachutists.
Drumming up business in the post-war years was hard work, but as before, performance was the key, and publicity didn't hurt. A chance photograph that Nissen had taken of himself and a kangaroo in mid-jump on the same trampoline, became as famous around the world, as his invention would become in the next few years.
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Paul Johnson works as a software developer, often working long hours under great stress. He considers exercise crucial to his health. When purchasing his own fitess equipment he researched all available products. Now he's written a series of useful articles on choosing (and using) exercise equipment.