Humminbird's history of innovation

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Tom Mann on the right, with Hank Parker.

By the mid-1970s the bass boat revolution was revving at full throttle, and the Bassmaster Tournament Trail was the reason. The 150-horsepower outboard was the standard. Comfort and functionality were embraced as necessities, not luxuries in bass boat design. By comparison, depthfinder technology was crude.

Recognizing an opportunity was Tom Mann, a B.A.S.S. pro and lure maker from Alabama. His idea was for a waterproof depthfinder capable of operating faster to find fish quicker. In 1974, his idea became the first waterproof fishfinder known as the Humminbird Super 60.

The Super 60 revolutionized depthfinders, and the company it started is legendary in the category. How it all began, and continues to thrive, is a story worth retelling as B.A.S.S. celebrates its 50th anniversary.

From early visionaries, engineers, factory workers, dealers, to customers, all melded together to shape not only a company, but an industry. And after more than 40 years, Eufaula, Alabama is still home to Humminbird’s engineering, manufacturing and technical support.

This is a story of American ingenuity, passion and perseverance as told through the recollections of the fishing industry pioneers who lived it. Now, the next time someone walks into your shop you can share not only the best of technology and performance, but the story of how Humminbird earned its wings.

Humble Beginnings

Like many iconic American companies, fishing electronics manufacturer Humminbird has humble beginnings. Hatched in a modest Eufaula, Alabama, garage-like facility in 1971, Tom Mann and a handful of investors known as Allied Sports Company began modifying Heath Kits into the first Humminbird Depth Sounders.

Former Humminbird CEO Jim Balkcom recalls: “Around 1970 there was a Eufaula Hospital radiologist making changes to the electrical design of Heath Kit Depth Sounders to shield interference from the bigger outboards making their way onto bass boats. Tom Mann was impressed and they started placing foil over the Heath Kit logo and selling the modified units to a buddy here, a buddy there. Before they knew it, they were creating serious demand.”

What’s In a Name?

One of the most entertaining stories of Humminbird’s early years involves how the company got its name. Longtime Humminbird pro Hank Parker knows the story well, having spent a great deal of time with the brand’s pioneers.