Richard C. Thompson, MD, practiced anesthesia for over 30 years, during which time, he developed his idea for a table-mounted retractor. After a vascular surgeon colleague expressed additional interest in such a system, Dr. Thompson had 10 sets of a table-mounted retractor system manufactured for use by surgical colleagues. Thus, the first table-mounted retractor system was born. A patent for this was awarded in 1965. While continuing in practice as an anesthesiologist, he began manufacturing the retractor in his garage and selling it to surgeons in California.
Dan Farley’s father, Dr. Albert W. Farley Jr., practiced neurosurgery in Saginaw, Michigan, and perceived that a table-fixed retractor would be of value in neurosurgery. In 1972, Dr. Farley began using a rough prototype to improve exposure in carotid artery surgery and anterior cervical spine surgery. He discussed these ideas extensively with his son Dan, who majored in industrial design in college.
On the basis of these discussions, Dan developed a new prototype that his father began using in 1980. In the early 1980s, Dan Farley approached Dr. Thompson with his prototype, wanting Dr. Thompson to manufacture and distribute the retractor. Although he was very impressed, Dr. Thompson had begun to think of retirement and suggested that Dan Farley buy his company and use this as a stepping stone to develop and market his retractor system. With a handshake, Dr. Thompson sold his company to Dan and Thompson Surgical Instruments was created April 1, 1983.