Cyrus McCormick Biography
(Inventor of mechanical reaper)
Birthday: February 15, 1809 (Aquarius)
Born In: Shenandoah Valley
Cyrus McCormick was an American industrialist who invented the mechanical reaper and founded the McCormick Harvesting Company. Born to an inventor father in Virginia, Cyrus received limited formal education but, displayed a knack for mechanics and soon learned the skills of his father, who used to conduct numerous experiments with farm machinery. When his father abandoned the work to build a reaper, Cyrus took over the project and after making several changes to the original design, in 1831, he was able to construct the first commercially successful mechanical reaper. However, over the next few decades, he faced the threat of competing inventors but was able to improve its mechanism, thus making his machine a success and maintaining his market position. In 1847, he established the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company in Chicago to manufacture, market, and distribute reapers. With innovative business practices, over the years, McCormick Harvesting Machine Company became the largest farm equipment manufacturing firm in the country. In 1871, when the factory was burnt down in the great Chicago fire, he rebuilt it with increased capacity and expanded his business. Subsequently, Cyrus also served as a leading public figure and remained active in Presbyterian causes as well as Democratic politics. An extraordinary inventor with unparalleled business acumen, Cyrus McCormick will always be remembered for his contributions to the advancement and mechanization of agriculture.