December 30, 2009 BY bam
Look down at your feet. There’s an excellent chance that you’re wearing a pair of sneakers that wouldn’t exist without this man. Or at least, they wouldn’t exist in their current form without him. Marlon Frank Rudy, inventor of the famous Nike Air, passed away last week at the age of 84. Starting off his career as an aerospace engineer for the military, he later moved on to become an independent inventor around the 60’s, and ultimately had over 250 patents to his name.
But his most prominent brainchild was the Air Sole that he pitched to Nike co-founder, Phil Knight, in 1977. Knight tried on a pair, like he does with most prototypes, took it for a run and was astounded by the improved cushioning and stability it provided. The Nike Air Tailwind became the first official production to feature the Air bubble, then moved into the realm of basketball for the Nike Air Force 1. The rest is history. We all know, though, that it didn’t make a substantial mark until the Nike promoted the Air Max during its ‘Revolution’ Campaign in 1987. Think about how many classic sneakers have Air, then ponder if you would still like some of them without it? The entire Air Max series, most other Nike runners, the Jordan III – VI, or more recently – Air Max Lebron VII. Nike would still be struggling with competitors if it weren’t for Rudy’s ingenuity. Nike President and Chief-Executive, Mark Parker, states:
“Frank Rudy holds a singular place in the pantheon of Nike innovation… His relentless creativity and focus on solving problems was, in many ways, the template for how Nike pursues performance to this very day.”
Not just a man to be remembered for his brilliance, Frank Rudy was also a philanthrope. In more recent years, Rudy focused much of his energy to support Cancer research in major clinics in Albany and Cleveland. Not just spokesperson or charitable donor, good friend ,Ben Walby, explained that Frank was hands-on, helping researchers using his analytic engineering skills. “He liked medicine and that was the ultimate puzzle for him. He wasn’t one to shy away from the ultimate challenge. The bigger the problem the more complex the problem, the deeper he dug in.” via Oregon Live
additional images via SC