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Victor Mills

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Victor Mills
  • Born in 1896 in Milford, Nebraska and died in 1997 at the age of 101
  • Served in the U.S. Navy in World Ward I
  • Graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Chemical Engineering
  • Worked at Procter & Gamble from 1926-1961
  • During his Procter & Gamble career, Vic lent his talents in coming up with new products or improving products
    • His work included development on Crisco, Duncan Hines, Jif, Pringles and Pampers
    • Vic’s technology achievements were numerous, including holding 25 patents beginning with candles and ending with bandages

      “A lot of my inventions were applying something that works one place to a different situation.” – Vic Mills

      Vic is recognized as the most productive and innovative technologist at Procter & Gamble
      • Consumers weren’t happy with cloth diapers and wanted a better way of diapering.
      • Baby wetness and laundry problems associated with cloth diapers were also present in hospitals, so the medical profession was interested in an improved diapering system.
      • Vic disliked changing diapers on his first grandchild who was born in 1955.  He saw the opportunity and assigned researchers in Procter & Gamble Exploratory Division to look into the possibility and practicality of a diaper that was absorbent, prevented leaks and kept babies dry – and could be discarded after each use. 
      • Beginning in 1956, this collaborative effort resulted in the development of the first Pampers.
      • The first diapers were tested in Dallas, Texas in 1957.
        • Two versions were tested – pin-on and tape-on.
        • They were disposable paper liners that fit inside plastic pants, but they proved to be too hot.
        • A home economist, Norma Baker, was also hired to test the diapers locally.  She would talk to mothers and find out what they liked and didn’t like.
        • Others on the diaper development team also tried out the product, including Bob Duncan on his twins.
        • Norma Baker and Bob Duncan are the Pampers patent holders.
      • 37,000 diapers were hand-sewn for the Rochester, NY test market in 1959.
        • These consumers chose the name “Pampers” as it was the most compatible with the kind of tender, loving care parents give their babies.
      • The first machine-made product was test marketed in Peoria, Illinois, in 1961.
        • The diaper was available in 2 sizes and the average price was 10 cents each; consumer feedback was that the diapers were too expensive for everyday use.
        • To reduce the cost of each diaper, Procter & Gamble’s engineering and manufacturing groups sought ways to produce at higher speeds and greater efficiencies. The result? Pampers, which offered a complete replacement for both cloth diapers and plastic pants, at a price parents could afford on a regular basis.
        • Pampers also offered top quality performance versus conventional cloth diapers and plastic pants.
      • Vic was able to use Pampers on his granddaughter, born in 1962.
      • Due to the enormous production facility requirements, Pampers was not available nationally until 1970.