Dyson, James. Against The Odds

James Dyson - Autobiography

Against The Odds is an autobiography of Sir James Dyson, one of the foremost inventors, designers, and businesspersons in British history.

If you are an inventor or a designer, or a business entrepreneur, then this book is one you must read because it charts the life of a truly remarkable person who against all odds manages to succeed.

This book will inspire the reader because James Dyson comes from an ordinary background most people will be able to relate. Everything he achieved, he did so on his own with very little help from others. This book highlights obstacles that many of us will face in our lives, and shows that determination is the way forward.

Everything about this book is top class and well thought out. From the valuable ideas that the readers will take away with them, to the clear style of writing, down to the cover graphics, font, binding, and paper quality. Consequently, it does appear that Sir James Dyson had a hands-on involvement with every aspect in the creation of this book, because books of this high quality are rare these days.

Sir James Dyson

James Dyson was born on 2nd of May 1947 in Cromer, Norfolk, UK. His parents were from a strong academic background. His father’s name was Alec Dyson who died at an early age from cancer, and his mother brought up James as a single parent. He was one of three children in the family.

He was educated at Greshems School, where he excelled at long distance running and was very determined to succeed. From 1965 to 1966, he studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art. From 1966 to 1970, he studied Interior Design at the Royal College of Art, and then finally embarked upon studying Engineering.

In 1997, James Dyson won the Prince Phillip Designers Prize. In 2000, he was the recipient of the Lord Kilgerran Award. In 2005, he became a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. In 2007, the Queen appointed him the rank of Knight Bachelor. Currently in 2011, he holds the position of Provost - Senior Academic Administrator - at the Royal College of Art.

Some of his inventions

Back Cover

Although popularly known for the invention of the cyclonic vacuum cleaner, most people are not aware that he had many successful inventions under his belt before that.

His first invention was the Sea Truck that launched in 1970 whilst still studying at the Royal College of Art. He also invented the Ballbarrow, where instead of a conventional wheel; he used a ball instead, thereby providing greater manoeuvrability. His inventions also appeared in the BBC1 television program Tomorrows World.

In 1970, James Dyson had the idea of using a process called cyclonic separation, which extracts dust particles from the air without the use of paper filters, employing the dynamics of a vortex.

The main operating principle makes use of the vortex and the centre part, the eye, where there is no air pressure. Dust particles on the outer edge of the vortex accumulate and fall to the centre of the vortex, where they remain trapped, and are collected.

The advantage of this method is that the airflow remains constant regardless of the amount of dust collected. Therefore, quite correctly, his vacuum cleaners became very popular.

Whilst other manufacturer's designs have remained the same, utilising the paper-bag filtration system, James Dyson's revolutionary leap has transformed the industry and taken the market by a storm. I should say a cyclone.

Today his business empire is generating an annual sale in excess of £100 million in the UK, and £300 million worldwide. Certainly, if you have some spare cash, buying some shares in his company might be the smart thing to do.


Many inventors reading this book will be able to relate with the experiences. In particular, large debts, no government help, or bank help, and rejection by the large corporations...

My message to corporate boardroom members: The next time an inventor comes to demonstrate his invention to you and you do not even offer him a drink of water let alone reimbursement of his travelling expenses, but instead sit there smug looking down at him and finally reject his ideas. Beware; for a person just such as this may go it alone and perhaps put you all out of business in the future.

This is the story of triumph and success, about a man who had un-answering optimism and self-belief. It is the story of someone who against all odds remained determined to succeed, driven by the passion to create something not just revolutionary but also aesthetically beautiful.


TitleAgainst The Odds
AuthorJames Dyson
Additional HelpGiles Coren
PublisherOrion Publishing Group
ISBN Number0 75280 981 4
Copyright HolderJames Dyson
Cover TypeHardback
Cover PictureSteve Speller
Cover Price£18.99
AvailabilityAmazon and all good online bookstores