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INDUSTRIES: Business History of Machine Tools
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September 6, 1819 - Thomas Blanchard, of Millbury, MA, received a patent for "Machine for Turning Gun Stocks"; profile lathe; capable of manufacturing irregular forms (such as gun stocks); could produce work of 13 operators; provided finished materials at much less cost.

April 18, 1834 - Solyman Merrick, of Springfield, MA, received a patent for a "Wrench"; moveable jaw which could be moved against a fixed jaw via a screw-threaded connection of the rack bar with the handle.

October 1840 - Cullen Whipple, of Providence, RI, one of ten incorporators of The New England Screw Co.; August 18, 1842 - received patent for a "Machine for Cutting the Threads of Wood-Screws"; April 6, 1843 - received a patent for a "Machine for Turning or Shaving the Heads of Blanks for Wood-Screws"; July 6, 1852 - received a patent for "Screw Threading Machinery"; August 10, 1852 - received a patent for "Machinery for Threading Wood-Screws"; November 30, 1852 - received a patent for "Improvement in Machinery for Shaving the Heads of Screw-Blanks"; December 14, 1852 - received patent for a "Mechanism for Pointing and Threading Screw-Blanks in the Same Machine"; added more cutters to point screws in same machine; credited as inventor of first practical machine for pointing screws (early screws had no point, required a starter hole be drilled before use); assigned to the New England Screw Company; January 1, 1856 - received a patent an "Improvement in Screw Machinery"; assigned to the New England Screw Company; June 3, 1856 - received a patent for "Making Screws"; screw machine (screw-blank feeder mechanism).

August 31, 1842 - Micah Rugg, of Southington, CT, received patent for a "Machine for Dressing Bolt Heads"; to trim heads of nuts and bolts; 1838 - Rugg and Martin Barnes established the first U.S. nuts and bolts factory in Marion, CT (capacity production was 500 bolts a day).

1843 - Frederick Trent Stanley established Stanley's Bolt Manufactory in New Britain, CT to manufacture door bolts, other hardware from wrought iron; 1857 - Henry Stanley (cousin) founded The Stanley Rule and Level Company; 1920 - Stanley Rule merged, formed Hand Tools Division); 1972 -  acquired Ackley Manufacturing Company, world’s leading manufacturer of hydraulic handheld tools; 1984 - acquired HED, Inc., largest U.S. manufacturer of mounted hydraulic breakers, compactors; 1992 - acquired  LaBounty Manufacturing, Inc., global market leader for mounted, non-impact attachments; November 2, 2009 - acquired Black & Decker (founded 1910)  for $4.5 billion; renamed Stanley Black & Decker.

April 5, 1864 - William Nicholson of Providence, R.I. received a U.S. patent for a "File-Cutting Machine" for cutting files; put to use in the first successful U.S. file factory, Nicholson File Company (1864); proved quality of his files matched those made by hand.

February 21, 1865 - Joseph R. Brown, of Providence, RI, received a patent for "Screw-Threading Machine" ("Improved Milling Machine"); four-speed, 1,800-lb machine could quickly make any size twist drill, replace previously tedious handwork in spiral milling or gear-cutting operations; ; assigned to J. R. Brown & Sharpe; 1853 - co-founded J.R. Brown and Sharpe to manufacture his products; November 28, 1865 - received a patent for an "Improvement in Screw-Cutting Machines", assigned to Joseph R. Browne & Sharpe.

July 23, 1872 - Elijah McCoy, of Ypsilanti, MI, received a patent for "Improvement in Lubricators for Steam-Engines" ("construction and arrangement of a lubricator for steam-cylinders"); allowed machines to continue to operate as oil continuously flowed to gears and moving parts, revolutionary way of lubricating steam engines without having to shut them down; saved an enormous amount of time and effort in transportation and in industrial production; term "real McCoy" refers to the oiling device used for industrial machinery; May 27, 1873 - received patent for "Lubricators" ("construction and arrangement of a steam-cylinder lubricator"); designed to be attached to a steam engine cylinder and provide oil to the steam chest chiefly when the steam was exhausted, but close a valve otherwise; glass viewing port in the side towards the top permitted visual inspection of the oil level; April 19, 1887 - received a patent for a "Lubricator Attachment" ("in connection with air brake-cylinders"; May 24, 1887 - received patent for a "Lubricator for Slide Valves" ("novel apparatus for lubricating the slide-valves and cylinders of locomotive engines"); May 29, 1888 - received a patent for a "Lubricator"; improvement on April 19, 1887 patent; December 18, 1900 - Elijah McCoy received a patent for a "Lubricator" ("displacement lubricators").

Elijah McCoy - the "Real McCoy" ( M/McCoy_Elijah/McCoyElijahThm.jpg)

1889 - Arthur James Arnot, William Blanch Brain invented electric drill in Melbourne, Australia.

February 28, 1893 - Edward G. Acheson of Monongahela, PA, received a patent for "Production of Artificial Crystalline Carbonaceous Materials"; carborundum (one of hardest industrial substances); assigned to the Carborundum Company; 1894 - established Carborundum Company in Monongahela City, PA to produce grinding wheels, whet stones, knife sharpeners, powdered abrasives; May 19, 1896 - received a patent for an "Electrical Furnace" used to produce carborundum; core of carbon rods provides a path for electric current to pass through the furnace; strong heating effect results from the resistance of that path; December 6, 1898 - received a patent for an "Article of Carborundum and Process of the Manufacture Thereof"; 1926 - U.S. Patent Office named carborundum one of the 22 patents most responsible for the industrial age; 1977 - acquired by Kennecott Copper for $560 million; 1981 - acquired by Standard Oil of Ohio; 1987 - acquired by British Petroleum; February 29, 1996 - acquired by Saint-Gobain/Norton Industrial Ceramics Corporation subsidiary of Compagnie de Saint-Gobain.

January 30, 1894 - Charles B. King of Detroit, MI, received a patent for a "Pneumatic Tool"; hammer (exhibited it at 1893 World's Columbian Exhibition in Chicago); inside the hammer, piston in cylinder driven by air pressure to hit a striker and tool.

1895 - Wilhelm Emil Fein invented hand-held, portable electric drill in Stuttgart, Germany.

February 19, 1901 - Frederick W. Taylor and Maunsel White, of Bethlehem, PA, received a patent for a "Metal-Cutting Tool and Method of Making Same" ("tool specially adapted for cutting very hard metal and capable of running efficiently when cutting such metals at higher speeds and greater temperatures than has heretofore been practicable").

1910 - S. Duncan Black, Alonzo G. Decker established small machine shop in Baltimore, MD; November 6, 1917 - received a patent for an "Electrically-Driven Tool"; hand-held drill combined pistol grip, trigger switch; assigned to The Black & Decker Manufacturing Company; 1936 - went public; 1946 - introduced Home Utility line of drills, accessories; 1956 - Robert D. Black (brother) named chairman of board, president; 1960 - Alonzo G. Decker, Jr. succeeded as chairman, chief executive officer; acquired DeWalt, Inc. of Lancaster, PA; 1975 - first non-family member headed company; June 26, 1984 - registered "Dustbuster" trademark first used November 1978 (Hand-Held Household Vacuum Cleaners and Replacement Filter Bags and Nozzles Used Therewith); introduced household appliances; 1985 - name changed to The Black & Decker Corporation; 1989 - acquired Emhart Corporation, ($2.8 billion in revenue), nearly doubled company’s size; November 2, 2009 - acquired by Stanley Works (founded 1843, 2008 sales of $4.5 billion) for $4.5 billion, renamed Stanley Black & Decker.


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October 22, 1910 - Leo Bethke, Frank Lueck, Charles Krause incorporated American Grinder and Manufacturing in Milwaukee, WI; produced 'self-oiling' hand grinders that sharpened tools used in hardware and agricultural applications; 1919 - started Blackhawk Manufacturing as subsidiary; February 1, 1924 - Herbert Brumder, son of George Brumder, well-known Milwaukee businessman who had built a German-language publishing business, assumed control (family had lent money, taken stock, Brumner named treasurer in 1920); 1925 - changed name to Blackhawk Manufacturing Company; October 20, 1925 - American Grinder Mfg. Co. registered "Blackhawk" trademark first used January 20, 1925 (water circulating pumps); 1927 - acquired Hydraulic Tool Company, small manufacturer of hydraulic jacks; October 1955 - hand tool line of Blackhawk Manufacturing acquired by New Britain Machine Company; 1960 - industrial and construction lines renamed Enerpac; 1961 - Blackhawk name changed to Applied Power Industries, Inc.; January 1973 - renamed Applied Power Inc.; 1987 - went public; 1989 - acquired Barry Wright Corp. in $147 million hostile takeover; 1991 - sales of $500 million; July 2000 - APW Electronics, maker of electronics enclosures, spun off from APW Ltd.; APW Industrial began trading under name Actuant Corporation; 2001 - formally renamed Actuant; February 2002 - went public; March 2002 - APW Electronics declared bankruptcy; later acquired by Oaktree Capital Management; 2006 - Actuant revenues of $1.2 billion.

July 7, 1936 - Henry F. Phillips, of Portland, OR, received a patent for a "Screw" ('...improvements in any type of screw formed with a tool-engaging recess in one of its ends'); received second patent for a "Means for Uniting a Screw with a Driver" ('...composite structure of a screw and a tool or driver...when brought together in the ordinary manner of presenting a screw driver to a screw, will cause the two to become securely united').

1961 - Black and Decker introduced first cordless drill (developed by Robert H. Riley, Jr. who focused on battery technology for drills that would allow workman to complete installations without additional source of electricity; October 19, 1965 - Riley, of Towson, MD and Daniel M. Elligson, of Baltimore, MD, received a patent for a "Heavy-Duty Industrial-Type Battery Powered Electric Drill" - cordless electric drill; assigned to Black & Decker Manufacturing Company).

(Biggers Industrial Gerlinger), B. Carolyn Knight (1986). Thinking Big: The Story of John Biggers and Biggers Industrial Gerlinger. (Placentia, CA: Aristan Press, 109 p.). Biggers, John, 1926- ; Biggers Industrial Gerlinger (Firm)--History; Businesspeople--United States--Biography; Machine parts industry--United States--History.

(Burgmaster Corporation), Max Holland (1989). When the Machine Stopped: A Cautionary Tale from Industrial America. (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 335 p.). Burgmaster Corporation--Management--History; Machine-tool industry--United States--Management--Case studies; Consolidation and merger of corporations--United States--Case studies; Machine-tool industry--Government policy--United States; Machine-tool industry--Government policy--Japan; Competition, International--Case studies.

(Cincinnati Milacron), Cincinnati Milacron (1984). Cincinnati Milacron, 1884-1984: Finding Better Ways. (Cincinnati, OH: The Company, 218 p.). Cincinnati Milacron, Inc. -- History; Metal-working machinery industry -- United States -- History; plastics machinery industry -- United States -- History.

(Carborundum Corporation), Raymond Szymanowitz (1971). Edward Goodrich Acheson Inventor, Scientist, Industrialist; a Biography. (New York, NY: Vantage Press, 628 p.). Acheson, Edward Goodrich, 1856-1931; Industrialists--United States--Biography. 

Edward Goodrich Acheson - Carborundum  (

(Cleveland Twist Drill Company), Jacob Dolson Cox (1951). Building an American Industry; The Story of the Cleveland Twist Drill Company and its Founder, an Autobiography. (Cleveland, OH: Cleveland Twist Drill Co., 179 p.). Cleveland Twist Drill Company.

(J.B. Ehrsam and Sons Manufacturing), Edward G. Nelson (1956). The Company and the Community. (Lawrence, KS: Bureau of Business Research, School of Business, University of Kansas, 433 p.). Enterprise, Kan. -- History; Alternate au Ehrsam (J.B.) and Sons Manufacturing Company, Enterprise, Kan. Incorporated in 1902, bought by Combustion Engineering in 1968, bought by Asea, Brown, Boveri, Ltd. (ABB), of Zurich, Switzerland in 1990.

(Federal Mogul Corporation), Jeffrey L. Rodengen (1998). The Legend of Federal-Mogul. (Fort Lauderdale, FL: Write Stuff Enterprises, 175 p.). Federal Mogul Corporation--History; Bearings industry--United States--History; Machine parts industry--United States--History; Steel alloy industry--United States--History; Roller bearings--United States--History.

(Ferracute Machine Company), Arthur J. Cox and Thomas Malim (1985). Ferracute: The History of an American Enterprise. (Bridgeton, NJ: A, J. Cox, 197 p.). Ferracute Machine Company (Bridgeton, N.J.)--History; Machinery industry--United States--History.

(Alfred Herbert Ltd.), Roger Lloyd-Jones and M.J. Lewis (2006). Alfred Herbert Ltd and the British Machine Tool Industry, 1887-1983. (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 352 p.). Professor of Economic History (Sheffield Hallam University, UK); Senior Lecturer in Business History (Sheffield Hallam University, UK). Alfred Herbert Ltd--History; Machine-tool industry--Great Britain--History. Economic, business history of British machine tool industry.

Alfred Herbert (standing) - Alfred Herbert Ltd ( AAAAAAAAWEo/kxkIGMQ8EC8/s400/Oscar+Harmer.JPG)

(Jones and Lamson), Joseph Wickham Roe (1937). James Hartness, A Representative of the Machine Age at Its Best. (New York, NY: The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 147 p.). Professor of Engineering (New York University). Hartness, James, 1861-1934; Jones and Lamson Machine Company; Machine-tool industry--Vermont--Springfield, VT. Superintendent at struggling Jones and Lamson machine shop;  revitalized company; invented flat turret lathe (increased efficiency, productivity), held 120 patents; President of American Society of Mechanical Engineers; inspiration to Springfield,  became booming manufacturing town. 

(Jones and Lamson), Wayne G Broehl (1976). Precision Valley. (New York, NY: Arno Press, 274 p. [Reprint of 1959 ed.]). Benjamin Ames Kimball Professor of the Science of Administration Emeritus, Amos Tuck School of Business Administration (Dartmouth College). Jones and Lamson Machine Company, Springfield, Vt.; Fellows Gear Shaper Company, Springfield, Vt.; Bryant Chucking Grinder Company, Springfield, Vt.; Machine-tool industry--Vermont--Springfield.

(B. & S. Massey Limited), H. Hurford Janes (1961). Sons of the Forge: The Story of B. & S. Massey Limited, 1861-1961. (London, UK: Harley Pub. Co., 104 p.). B. & S. Massey Limited; machine parts industry.

(Safety-Kleen), Jim Bowman ; introduction by W. Gordon Wood (1989). Waste Not ...: The Story Safety-Kleen. (Chicago, IL: J.G. Ferguson Pub. Co., 152 p.). Safety-Kleen (Firm)--History; Machine parts cleaning machinery industry--United States--History.

(Alden O. Sherman Company), Jane E Sherman (2004). Alden O. Sherman-An American Original: The Story of the Man and His Company. (Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 288 p.). Sherman, Alden O.; Machine parts industry. Entrepreneur started a small business manufacturing vanes for the aerospace industry and made it a 50-year success.

(Stanley Works Inc.), Jeffrey L. Rodengen (1996). The Legend of Stanley: 150 Years of The Stanley Works. (Fort Lauderdale, FL: Write Stuff Syndicate, 191 p.). Stanley Works Inc.--History; Tools--United States; Hardware industry--United States.

Andrew Dawson (2004). Lives of the Philadelphia Engineers: Capital, Class, and Revolution, 1830-1890. (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 302 p.). Machinery industry--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia--History; Machinery industry--United States--History; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Economic conditions--19th century; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions--19th century. 

Anthony DiFilippo (1986). Military Spending and Industrial Decline: A Study of the American Machine Tool Industry (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, `199 p.). Machine-tool industry -- Government policy -- United States; Military weapons -- Economic aspects -- United States; Industrial policy -- United States -- Case studies; Technology and state -- United States -- Case studies. Series Contributions in economics and economic history.

David R. Meyer (2006). Networked Machinists: High-Technology Industries in Antebellum America. (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 320 p.). Teaches Sociology and Urban Studies (Brown University). Machinists--United States--History; Metalworking industries--United States--History. Networked behavior of machinists helps explain: 1) rapid transformation of metalworking industries, 2) foundation for sophisticated, mass production/consumer industries.

David F. Noble (1986). Forces of Production: A Social History of Industrial Automation. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 409 p.). Drexel University. Machine-tools--Numerical control--Social aspects--United States; Automation--Social aspects--United States; Technology--Social aspects--United States.

Joseph Wickham Roe (1926). English and American Tool Builders. (New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 315 p. [orig. pub. 1916]). Professor of Engineering (New York University). Machine-tools; Industrial arts--Biography.

L. T. C. Rolt (1986). Tools for the Job: A History of Machine Tools to 1950. (London, UK: H.M.S.O., 274 p.). Machine-tools -- History.

Harless D. Wagoner (1968). The U.S. Machine Tool Industry from 1900 to 1950. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 421 p.). Machine-tool industry--United States.

Robert S. Woodbury (1972). Studies in the History of Machine Tools. (Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press, 592 p.). Teaches the History of Technology (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Machine-tools --History. History of the gear-cutting machine; a historical study in geometry and machines, c1958; History of the grinding machine; a historical study in tools and precision production, c1959; History of the milling machine; a study in technical development, c1960; History of the lathe to 1850; a study in the growth of a technical element of an industrial economy. c1961.


Business History Links

American Precision Museum                                                                                  

The Museum preserves the heritage of the mechanical arts, celebrates the ingenuity of our mechanical forebears, and explores the effects of their work on our everyday lives; housed in the original Robbins & Lawrence Armory, holds the largest collection of historically significant machine tools in the nation.

Directory of American Tool and Machinery Patents                                  

Cooperative effort of the OldWWMachines and OldTools mailing lists. It is intended to be a clearinghouse for information on antique tool and woodworking machine patents, allowing collectors of these tools to easily find information about the history of tools and trades.

Tool Industry Timeline                                                              

Events that have shaped the tool industry over the last 100+ years, with a focus on company foundings, patents, and trademarks.

TOOLEMERA PRESS                                                                                                         

Ephemera & Books on Early Tools, Trades, Crafts and Industries.



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