Lifestyle & Belief

Developer of treadmill, William Staub, dies at 96


President of the World Anti-Doping Agency John Fahey (L) speaks as President of FINA Rene Bouchard (R) watches on during a World Anti Doping Agency Briefing ahead of the 2012 London Olympic Games at the Main Press Centre on July 25, 2012 in London, England.

The inventor of the treadmill, and a devotee himself of the ubiquitous exercise equipment, has died at age 96.

William Staub, who was spied on his trusty treadmill just two months before his death, will be remembered for changing the way people exercise.

AP reported that the former mechanical engineer built and marketed his first treadmill in the late 1960s – 40 steel rollers covered by an orange belt, a gray cover over the motor, and orange dials to determine time and speed. Staub envisioned it as a tool for people who wanted to run or walk outside but didn't because of inclement weather, less-than-ideal circumstances or creative excuses, his son, Gerald Staub, said.

At the time, the treadmill was almost exclusively used by doctors, but Staub wanted to take it into homes and gyms.

Gerald Staub remembers having conversations with his father in which the two hoped to sell 10 or 12 treadmills a day. The machine was a curiosity at trade shows because few had ever seen or heard of a treadmill, AP reported.

"I don't think he thought it was going to be quite as big as it was," Staub said.

The Washington Post said Staub was fastidious about his diet and ate the same lunch for many years, which consisted of tomato soup, toast and tea for a while, then a tomato sandwich with a slice of cheese and lettuce.

And he became a lifelong devotee of the treadmill.

“I saw him on the treadmill just a couple months ago,” his son recalled.