History of Spyderco Knives

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Spyderco Inc. makes some of the most unique and downright bizarre knife designs you'll see on the market, but from the number of passionate fans discussing, debating and learning everything they can about Spyderco knives, it's clear that the company has done something right. Read on to learn more about how Spyderco became the symbol of innovation and design in the knife industry.

Origin of the Spyderco Name

spyderco portable hand
Spyderco owner Sal Glesser's first invention: the Portable Hand

The genesis of the Spyderco company known today began back in 1976 when inventor Sal Glesser created a product called the Portable Hand. This strange-looking device allowed people like jewelers and hobbyists to work with small parts because it securely held items in place, leaving both hands free for other purposes. The useful device had a freakish look, which bears a striking resemblance to a spider. It was the spider-like appearance of the device along with Glesser's love for sports cars that often seem to have names akin to spiders that helped inspire the name of the company.

C01 Worker: First Knife

spyderco C01 worker

With the success of the Portable Hand, Sal Gesser and his wife, Gail, traveled around to trade shows before settling in Golden, Colorado, in 1978. They started off making knife sharpeners but quickly moved on to creating the first Spyderco knife: the C01 Worker. The 1981 knife is notable for being a first in many aspects.

It was the first knife to feature a hole in the blade for easy one-handed opening—a big part of the Spyderco knives today. The C01 Worker was also the first knife to use a clothing clip as part of its design, allowing the carrier to easily attach it to a pocket or belt. More importantly, the C01 Worker brought on a paradigm shift to how we interact with knives today.

The knife was discontinued in 2001, but it's mark has been felt on nearly every knife since it first entered the popped onto the scene in 1981. Now almost every folder on the market has a notch for one-handed opening and a pocket clip.

Giving the People What They Need

It takes time, effort and patience to become a popular knife brand, but Sal and Gail always believed in making the best knife possible. While they were still traveling and selling their knife sharpener, they spoke to countless people about what they needed in a knife and took the information to heart. It's no coincidence that their knives became so popular.

The bizarre appearances of Spyderco knives are part of their lore. As the Spyderco website writes, "Our recognizable appearance is a result of designing ergonomic functional tools rather than applying lipstick and nylons to a pocketknife. We may look curious, homely, whatever, but we'll never be called unusable or undependable."

Many of these knives are by no means pretty, but they have and will continue to get the job done comfortably and efficiently thanks to this original dedication from the founders.

Spyderco Today

Since the original C01 Worker, there's been more than 200 models — some successes and some failures commercially — and collaborations with some of the top knife makers in the world. In 2000, Spyderco's founder and president Sal Gesser was inducted into the Blade Magazine Cutlery Hall of Fame for his contributions and innovations in the knife industry.

spyderco tenacious
The Tenacious is one of Spyderco's most popular knives

Spyderco continues making new designs each year and coming up with variations of older models. Some of the most recent models include the Domino, Szabo, Equilibrium, Friction Folder and more.