Cyrus Hall McCormick Essay, Research Paper
The mechanical reaper. A time-saving invention which allowed farmers
to more than double their crop size while at the same time spurring
other innovations in farm machinery. This reaper, which combined all
the steps that earlier harvesting machines had performed separately, was
the brilliant innovation of a man, a man named Cyrus Hall McCormick.
Born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, Cyrus was son to a man who’s
imagination also boggled with new inventions. As a child, Cyrus
experimented with different tools in hopes of inventing something which
would simplify his father’s job. Finally, in 1831, he built his first
reaper. Succeeding where his father had failed, Cyrus made some
adjustments to his machine before patenting his invention in 1834. At
around the same time (1833), a man by the name of Obed Hussey announced
a the construction of a reaper of his own.
The year was 1840, and by this time, McCormick had started to
manufacture his creation and sold it for the first time in Virginia.
The reaper’s marketing did very well, and it’s sales had expanded to
other parts of the United States by 1844. Because of it’s efficiency,
the horse-drawn reaper allowed farmers to harvest five times the regular
2 acre per day amount that skilled workers used to harvest.
In 1847, the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company was moved to Chicago.
Location, ease of distribution, and reputation were all factors which
convinced McCormick that Chicago was the place for him. “Centrally
located in the Midwest, he used the Great Lakes to transport reapers to
the East, and the Mississippi River to transport to the South.”* What
more, as industries grew in the Windy City, Chicago soon turned into a
major railroad central in the 1850’s. This added to the distribution
potential which McCormick needed to ship his reapers out to other parts
of the US.
The company’s success thrived under the name McCormick Harvesting
Machine Company until McCormick’s death in 1884. By this time,
McCormick’s company had grown to become one of greatest industrial
establishments in the United States. Chicago newspapers were bragging
about his success and other companies awed at the pace of development.
Shortly after his death, the company had a “face-lift.” It’s name
changed to the International Harvester, and sales slowed down from it’s
initial boom. In 1907, the company produced the Auto Buggy. With this
machine, farmers were able to haul their goods to the markets. Less
then ten years later, the International Harvester also produced the
country’s first school bus. Thus, started to revolutionize the trucking
In the 1950’s, International Harvester experienced a period of growth
like never before. A huge demand for trucks was needed as the country’s
interstate system broke in. Trucking became the choice transportation
for manufacturers and large companies. Transportation by shipment was
not only a more reliable source, but also cheaper. This new source also
created an unbelievable amount of new jobs as well.
As this new fad (of shipment) caught on, International Harvester didn’t
see a need for the production of farming and agricultural machinery
anymore. Focusing on it’s core business-truck manufacturing-the company
combined its truck and engine operations together under the parent name
of Navistar in 1986. Its agricultural and constructing divisions were
sold to other companies.
Today, Navistar encompasses six primary areas: Heavy Trucks, Medium
Trucks, School Buses, Engine and Foundry, Parts, and Navistar Financial
Corporation. Navistar has approximately 15,000 employees in more than
40 locations worldwide. It’s world headquarters is still located in
Chicago, though (NBC Tower).
Navistar Home Page: www.navistar.com
National Inventor’s Hall of Fame: www.invent.org
World Book Encyclopedia v.14 “McCormick, Cyrus” 1990
School’s History Book