Max Gort-Barten was a German-born entrepreneur who found himself in England – and therefore signed up to the British army – just as the second World War broke out. When the war was over he bought a small factory in Camberwell in the absolute certainty that he would utilise his engineering skills and creativity to manufacture products. He had several early ideas, including the Dual-Light electric fire from which Dualit took its name, but it was a patented toaster that caught people's attention.
An astute businessman, Max decided not to compete head to head with other emerging consumer brands but instead focused on the commercial market. He designed and engineered a six-slice toaster with a built-in timer (the first of its kind) in 1952, which bears a striking resemblance to today's Vario toaster. The company grew slowly over the next 20 years, gradually improving and extending its range of commercial toasters and adding other related products.