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William Staub, Developer of the Treadmill, Dies

William Staub, who developed the treadmill for use in homes and fitness clubs, has died at the age of 96.

Staub got the idea to develop the treadmill after reading the 1968 book “Aerobics” authored by Dr. Kenneth Cooper. The book mentioned a treadmill, and Staub wanted to develop one so that people could improve their fitness by running Cooper’s prescribed 8-minute miles indoors.

“The treadmills we were using were very expensive, but there wasn’t one on the market for the masses. And that’s why he said, ‘We need this,’” Cooper told the Associated Press. “I encouraged it. I said, ‘If you can develop a treadmill that could be used in a home or an apartment it would be a slam dunk.’ And it was.”

In another report in The New York Times, Cooper called Staub “the pioneer for the use of the treadmill in the home.”

Staub, a mechanical engineer, produced his treadmills from the manufacturing company he owned called Besco in Clifton, NJ. His earliest models were built under the brand name PaceMaster with wooden rollers and an on-off switch near the floor. The treadmills cost $399 in the 1970s. By the 1980s, his new company, Aerobics Inc., was selling 2,000 treadmills a year. By the mid-1990s, sales reached 35,000 a year.

Staub, who died July 19 at his home in Clifton, had been walking on one of his treadmills as recently as two months ago, his son, Gerald, told the Associated Press.

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