Our History 1960 – 1979


Vitalograph Ltd. is founded.

Dietmar Garbe was asked by the Medical Research Council Pneumoconiosis Panel to source or develop a simple, office spirometer to screen coal miners for pneumoconiosis, commonly called ‘Black Lung’. Up until this point spirometry could only be done in laboratories.

The result was ‘The Vitalograph’, from the essential features, ‘vital capacity’ and ‘graph’. Manufacture of Vitalograph Spirometers began within the old stables in the grounds of Dietmar and Margaret’s family home, Maids Moreton House.


The Vitalograph is widely used in the UK

Acceptance of the robust, portable Vitalograph Spirometer is fast and widespread in the UK and for many people the Vitalograph name became synonymous with spirometry.


Vitalograph is a success. 

With the success of the Vitalograph Spirometer, supply capacity far exceeded demand and a new purpose-built medical device factory unit was built at Maids Moreton House to manufacture the Vitalograph.

The workforce of Vitalograph Ltd gradually grew, largely from people living in the village of Maids Moreton and the nearby town of Buckingham.


Vitalograph starts to export. 

With the success of Vitalograph in the UK, thoughts turned to expansion by export. This was not an easy thing to do in the 1960’s with currency control and low growth, as well as import barriers in many countries.  The acquisition of international distributors was led by Margaret Garbe who continued in this role until her death in 1974.


Office opens in Kansas City, Missouri.

A Vitalograph sales office and warehouse opened in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. Later the office/warehouse moved across the state line to Lenexa Kansas, where it remains today.


Simple Peak Flow Meter concept evolves. 

Dietmar started to develop the concept of a low-cost Peak Flow Meter after being inspired when he saw an idea for a maximum velocity ski anemometer strapped to a skier’s shoulder.


Vitalograph (Ireland) is formed. 

While the first part of the Ennis factory was being built, manufacturing started in a former garage building owned by Ted Sheils, a founding director of Vitalograph (Ireland) Ltd. 


The successful ‘Peak Flow Monitor’ is launched in the USA.

The ‘Peak Flow Monitor’ was brought to production in the USA. The simple mechanical peak flow meter is today regarded by many physicians as an essential tool in the home management of asthma.

This year also saw the launch of the first Vitalograph electronic device, the very successful ‘Digital Meter’ which was developed and manufactured in Maids Moreton.


Fledgling factory in Ennis, Ireland. 

A new purpose built Vitalograph manufacturing plant opened in Ennis, Co Clare, Ireland in 1976, the first of many expansion phases.


The ‘Opening Interrupter’ is launched.

Dietmar and Margaret’s youngest son, Marcus, joined Vitalograph in 1978 as a trainee. He was followed 2 years later by his older brother, Bernard, who is now the current managing director.

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