The Cutlers’ Company in Sheffield has made only the fourth change in membership rules in its 391-year history - and has opened its stainless steel doors to digital firms.
Sam Chapman, boss of Sheffield tracking firm The Floow, was the first digital engineer to be inducted as a ‘Freeman’ at a ceremony at the Cutlers’ Hall.
Mr Chapman will also have his name inscribed in the Company’s leatherbound ‘Great Book’.
The organisation reviewed its criteria in light of the success of local companies and rise of the ‘Internet of Things’ - machines embedded with electronics, software, sensors and internet connectivity.
Master Cutler Craig McKay said the rule change had been controversial and had been debated by the board.
But in the end the call to modernise was too strong.
He added: “It’s an evolution, we have revised the criteria slightly, removing the reference to manufacturing of hard products. We will see how our relationship with this industry develops over time.”
Mr Chapman said he approached the Company after wanDISCO became the first digital firm to gain the Made In Sheffield.
He added: “It’s a fantastic accolade and a historic moment. It’s a recognition that manufacturing is also about quality in the digital arena.”
When established in 1624, the Company was exclusively for cutlery makers.
Over 200 years later, in the 1850s, it was expanded to include the newly successful steelmen and in the 20th century, all ‘hard’ manufacturing was included.
Now, the reference to ‘hard’ has been removed.
Mr McKay said they would continue to take each application on its merits.