The earliest known gas mask company was the German company Siebe, Gorman and Corp which started as a manufacturer of diving suits and breathing helmets in 1819. Patents for air purifying inhaler devices were issued by the US Patent office as early on as 1849. While the product did not prevent the inhalation of any dangerous gasses we were holding highly effective for use in fossil fuel mines and for medical personnel. The simple manufacturing process was usually performed by a tiny group of men operating in someone’s garden. website
The H. S. Covers Company, named after the founder, produced cup-type markers that covered the mouth area and nose but still left the eyes exposed. Founded in 1894, this provider made cup-type masks before the advent of World Warfare One when it transformed to manufacturing gas face masks for the US Armed service. The company was still alive and prospering as late as the 70’s when it was your oldest gas mask producer in the USA.
The Drager breathing apparatus, created in 1903 and created by the Drager Organization of Germany, became so popular in the mine rescue business that the definition of “dragerman” became a suggestions for an underground mine rescue worker. The company still exists today and claims to have made over two million safety masks for the In german Armed Forces during Globe War One.
Today there are companies that make gas masks in about any industrialized nation of the world. Even though the business has always been fast to deliver a country’s informed forces with air face masks, the terrorist acts of 9/11 gave the complete industry a boost. If the anthrax attacks happened soon thereafter, small gas face mask manufacturers became big companies overnight. Major corporations like 3M, Moldex and Goodrich all jumped on panel and started manufacturing some form of gas cover up designed more to quell the fears of a nervous population than anything at all else. Simply because there have been no mass chemical or biological disorders on major population areas since the end of WW1, there has never been an instance where the use of gas masks has resulted in saving the lives of large many people. Nonetheless, gas mask manufacturers continue to do a pretty quick business selling protection to the public.