Joseph Johnson, whose innovative idea to create interchangeable tool...

WEST ALLIS, Wis. -- Joseph Johnson, whose innovative idea to create interchangeable tool bits led to the founding of Snap-On Tools Corp., has died at age 92.

In 1919, while working at a Milwaukee manufacturing company, Johnson came up with the idea of making sockets and handles in pieces that could be interchanged to create different combinations.


He and a co-worker, William Seideman, parlayed the idea into a company that eventually became Snap-On Tools of Kenosha, one of the world's largest distributors of hand tools. The wrenches revolutionized the hand tool industry and made Johnson a millionaire.

Snap-On Tools built its plant on Kenosha's south side in 1930. In 1939, Johnson became president, serving until his retirement in 1959. He continued as a director of the company until 1975.

During retirement, he and his wife, Carla, lived in Door County and Milwaukee. He died Wednesday at Methodist Manor.

Johnson was a member of the Kenosha Manufacturers and Employers Association, serving one term as president; director of the First National Bank of Kenosha; trustee of Kenosha Memorial Hospital and trustee of Carthage College, where he received an honorary doctor of science degree in 1963.


Johnson was born June 27, 1894, in Milwaukee, the eldest of five children. He attended school until age 14 when he started work to support his family. He married Carla Stettner in 1916.

Johnson is survived by his wife, a daughter, two sons, a sister, nine grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were pending.

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