In 1888, Dr. Allen DeVilbiss was a country doctor serving patients in the rural communities around the town of Toledo in Ohio USA. The most common treatment for throat infections at the time was to swab the inside of the patient's throat with petroleum jelly or goose grease not a pleasant remedy but as effective as possible.

Dr. DeVilbiss set about inventing a better method of coating infected throats of patients, working in his little work shop, he assembled a hollow rubber ball, a metal jar, and a small tube. The home grown device would pump out a spray of medicine when the ball was squeezed. He filled the metal jar with petroleum jelly and heated it over a candle flame to make the jelly a sprayable liquid. He next added an adjustable tip to the tube that allowed him to adjust the pattern of the spray.

The adjustable spray tip was unique enough that Dr. DeVilbiss applied for and received a patent for the idea.

As word spread among doctors about these atomizers, the little company outgrew the capacity of the home workshop. The DeVilbiss Company opened their first factory in Toledo in 1890 to serve the growing market that he had created for medical atomizers.

In 1905, Tom DeVilbiss, Dr. DeVilbiss's son, joined the company and started to look for other applications for the atomizers. He found that these medical devices were also perfect for spraying lady's perfume. Despite his father's grumbling that such an application was frivolous, Tom adapted his father's invention for this new use. Initially, the perfume atomizers were made to screw onto common salt cellars, but soon the company started to produce perfume atomizers with their own bottles. Some of these perfume bottles were beautifully crafted in crystal, nickel, or even gold and silver. Surviving examples are prized as collectables to this day.

In 1907, Tom DeVilbiss began experimenting with an industrial application for the adjustable tip atomizer. As part of this work, he and his team invented the first practical compressed air driven paint spray gun. This spray gun technology found wide application in the rapidly expanding industrial marketplace where high quality finishes were needed for automobiles, appliances, and furniture. The application of finishes using the new DeVilbiss equipment meant that finishes could be applied more efficiently and with more consistency.

Modern finishing requires more than quality and efficiency in production. Spraying must now be done within the requirements of strict environmental standards. DeVilbiss has led the way in these compliant technologies as well, providing systems that apply new waterborne paints and high solids finishes. DeVilbiss also sets the industry standard for customer service by providing the latest application technology through the company's global team of field service technicians.

Within the Automotive Refinishing industry DeVilbiss is renowned as a manufacturer of premium performance, premium quality spray guns approved by all the leading paint companies around the globe. The JGA, GFG, GTi and now the GTi Pro spray guns have all played their part in establishing a heritage acknowledged as leaders in the application of solvent and waterbase refinish materials. A comprehensive range of respiratory protection, air filtration, air dryers and accessories makes the DeVilbiss Refinish range the leading product portfolio for professional painters.

The appealing finishes on modern furniture, automobiles, and appliances can be traced back over 100 years to a country doctor who invented a better treatment for the common sore throat.