We can probably credit Igor Bensen for modern interest in gyrocopters. After the great depression and the death of its two greatest proponents, Juan de la Cierva and Harold Pitcairn, interest in gyrocopters languished until Igor Bensen introduced his version of a gyrocopter in the 1950s.
His most successful product was the Bensen B-8 that first flew in 1955 and remained in production until the Bensen Aircraft Corporation closed down in 1987.
The Bensen gyrocopter and others that sprang up mimicking its design to a certain degree are what have become known as the first generation gyros even though Cierva and Pitcairn had designs much different and far more practical that preceded them.
Two critical design flaws that many first generation gyrocopters shared was a lack of a horizontal stabilizer and a high thrust line. Both of these inadequacies contributed to a condition known as a power push over or bunt over that was usually fatal. By contrast, Cierva’s and Pitcairn’s gyrocopters were far safer as they were designed to be.
First generation gyrocopters could be flown safely but only with adequate training and a certain degree of skill. Another critical flaw was the first generation gyrocopters were flown by poorly trained, if trained at all, pilots. The gyrocopter community was small with a very limited number of experienced pilots serving as flight instructors. Magazines frequently touted how simple it was to build a gyrocopter in your garage so some opted to forego instruction. Components used were also not necessary aviation grade. All of this led to a rather high accident rate that gave gyrocopters in general a poor reputation.
Second generation gyrocopters to the rescue.