Apr 9, 2016
Bob Hoffman, York Barbells, and Muscletown U.S.A.
Barbells are on a bar, so you use both arms at once.
Dumbbells are separate, one for each arm (called "dumb bells" because they're silent).
In 1935, Bob Hoffman bought the Milo Barbell Company from Calvert, renamed it the York Barbell Company, and set about publicizing the benefits of weight-lifting. He sponsored thousands of bodybuilding competitions, published dozens of books and magazines, and made sure York Barbells could be found in nearly every gym in the world.
The problem with the barbells was, they didn't wear out. Once you bought a set, you were fixed for life. So in order to stay solvent, an ever-increasing customer base was necessary. During the 1980s, as weight training machines became popular, that customer base started to diminish. Bob Hoffman's death in 1985 almost brought about the company's demise.
Still, every bodybuilding enthusiast has made a pilgrimage to York, Pennsylvania, where a giant image of a bodybuilder revolves atop the company headquarters. Inside, the Weightlifting Hall of Fame has some interesting artifacts and exhibits.