Have you ever stopped to ponder while heading out to the field how they harvested in the “olden days”? Farmers used a scythe to cut grain and then another laborer would come along behind them and gather grain into bundles for storage. It was a tedious and backbreaking process that would take days to complete, even with a large team of workers. Cyrus McCormick is to thank for the fact that harvesting is much more efficient today.
Cyrus McCormick had inventing in his DNA. His father created several farming implements throughout his farming career. Taking after his father’s talent, Cyrus tried his hand at building a reaper. His father had never been able to successfully make one, but at age 22, Cyrus has created his first model for testing. His first public demonstration had him successfully cut 6 acres of oats. Farmers at the time were interested in the product, but had a hard time being convinced to spend a large amount of money for the machine.
After realizing he had competition in building reapers, a man named Obed Hussey, Cyrus took out a patent in 1834 to protect his design and began producing them. Business grew slowly at first, and he realized the machine had more potential out West. He set up shop with help of a partner, William Ogden, in Chicago mass producing reapers. They grew successful quickly due to a variety of business tactics such as purchase credit, warranty, and advertising. They grew so much that McCormick was able to buy out his partner and own the business outright.
By 1851, the reaper was so famous it was shown in the World’s Fair at London’s Crystal Palace. Cyrus created and sold a new reaper model every year featuring improvements. He lived a long and successful life, passing away in 1884. His final words reflected his attitude, “Work, work, work.”
Years after his death, his company combined with several other agricultural companies to become the International Harvester Company.
“Cyrus McCormick.” American Inventors
“Cyrus McCormick.” Encyclopedia Britannica
“Cyrus McCormick.” Who Made America?