Bearing Application Timeline

The use of has a long and storied history, having been used to build some of history's most important structures. Read below for a brief history of the bearing industry.

2600 BC – The Ancient Egyptians use a form of roller bearings to help move massive bricks during construction of the Pyramids.

40 BC - Early example of a wooden ball bearing supporting a rotating table was retrieved from the remains of a Roman ship in Lake Nemi, Italy.



da Vinci  

1500 AD – Leonardo da Vinci described a type of ball bearing.

1600 – Galileo describes caged ball bearing to prevent friction.

1794 – First patent for ball race by Philip Vaughn of Carmarthen, Wales.

1866 – The Torrington Company (under the name Excelsior Needle Company) signs Articles of Association to manufacture sewing machines needles and the machinery to produce the same.

1880 – Rockwell Automation (under the name DODGE Manufacturing Company) incorporates, two years after Wallace H. Dodge began the manufacture of wood hardware specialties.

1883 – FAG begins grinding balls of equal size and roundness forming the creation of an independent bearing industry.

1898 – First patent issued for Timken Tapered roller bearings.

1907 – Sven Wingquist of SKF invents the modern self-aligning ball bearing.


Tapered bearing



Swedish postage stamp 
featuring Sven ingquist

1907 – Sven Wingquist of SKF invents the modern self-aligning ball bearing.

1912 – FAG originates single-row, barrel type, and spherical roller bearings.

1913 – Hoover Steel Ball Company is founded by Leander J. Hoover in Ann Arbor, MI.

1916 – NSK inaugurated its business in 1916 and produced the first ball bearings made in Japan.  

1917 – U.S. Bearing Manufacturers create an informal group to aid bearing manufacturing for World War I, which led to the founding of ABMA.

1927 – NTN Mfg. Co., Ltd. established with capital of 50,000 yen.

1928 – Fujikoshi Steel Industry Co, Ltd., (Nachi) was founded in Toyama City, Japan, to manufacture cutting and machine tools.

1933 – Articles of Incorporation ratified by United States bearing manufacturers to create AFBMA (Anti-Friction Bearing Manufacturers Association).

1934 – AFBMA is incorporated as an organization in the State of New York.

1960 – Elasto-hydro-dynamic theory explains the mechanism of why bearings and gears work led to advances in grindings precision and ultrasonic equipment.


Apollo 11

1969 –Three astronauts in a North American Rockwell "Apollo" spacecraft are launched by North American Rockwell rocket engines toward the moon.

1970 – Intel invents the microprocessor and consistent precision control of machine tools impacting both size and life of bearings.

1980s – Torrington bearings are used in the space shuttle and robot arm to launch and retrieve satellites in orbit.

1992 – ABMA celebrates its 75th anniversary.

1993 – ABMA officially changes its name from the AFBMA (Anti-Friction Bearing Manufacturers Association).


1993 – Leading bearing manufacturers from throughout the world meet for the first time in Key Largo, Florida.

2001 – The Schaeffler Group (INA) acquires FAG.

2002 – Timken Company acquires Torrington Company impacting the global bearing market with a variety of bearing products including tapered roller bearings, needle roller bearings and alloy steels.

2006 – ABMA partners with the American Gear Manufacturers Association (AGMA) for Joint Meeting in Tucson, AZ.

2006 – ABMA, the Japanese Bearing Industrial Association (JBIA) and the Federation of European Bearing Manufacturers Association (FEBMA) create the World Bearing Association (WBA) to focus on issues affecting the global bearing industry.


Shuttle Atlantis
carrying Galileo Spacecraft
in 1989.