The first airbrush was patented in 1876 (Patent Number 182,389) by Francis Edgar Stanley of Newton, Massachusetts. Stanley and his twin brother later invented a process for continuously coating photographic plates (Stanley Dry Plate Company) but are perhaps best known for their Stanley Steamer.
The airbrush was later improved by Abner Peeler which used a hand-operated compressor, and the inventor patented it "for the painting of watercolors and other artistic purposes". It was rather crude, being based on a number of spare parts in a jeweller's workshop such as old screwdrivers and welding torches. It took 4 years of further development before a practical device was developed. This was marketed by Liberty Walkup, who taught airbrush technique to American Impressionist master Wilson Irvine. The first modern type airbrush came along in 1893, presented by Thayer and Chandler art materials company at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, invented by Charles Burdick. This device looked like a pen and worked in a different manner to Peeler's device, being essentially the same as a modern airbrush. Aerograph, Burdick's original company, still makes and sells airbrushes in England.