February 8, 2007


And the man behind the brand is...
Philo Remington

Like most young farm boys in 1816 Eliphalet Remington wanted a rifle. His father did not have enough money to buy his son a rifle but Eliphalet did not sulk. Instead he set about gathering scraps of steel from his father's forge and welded a gun barrel. He then walked 14 miles to Utica, New York to have it rifled. The result was such a phenomenal gun that his neighbors began commissioning him to make rifles.

Slowly Remington's Mohawk Valley forge grew into a great gun factory. Eliphalet Remington died in 1861 just as his company, E. Remington & Sons, was about to have a major impact on American history as a major supplier of arms to the Union Army.

The sons began diversifying the manufacturing concern after the Civil war with agriculture implements and sewing machines. About this time Christopher Latham Sholes began working on a writing machine in his home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1873, after six years of tinkering, what he called a "typewriter" was ready for a demonstration. The Remingtons were a well-known manufacturer he would try to impress.

Sholes was a shy man more comfortable around machines then men.
A Pennsylvania oilman named James Densmore had been an enthusiastic proponent of the typewriter project and Sholes invited him to Ilion, New York to make the demonstration for him. Philo Remington was not completely sold by the clunky machine but was intrigued enough with its potential to purchase complete ownership on March 1, 1873. Sholes was destined to receive little or no money from the sale but he seems to have been content just to have his invention reach the market.

It did in September of the same year. Remington was having success selling sewing machines at the time so he mounted the typewriter on a sewing machine stand and decorated it with flowery designs. The first commercial typewriter was ready.

There was much to overcome.

No one knew how to use it. Why would anyone pay $125 for a typewriter when they could write faster with a pen that cost but a penny? The popular story around the Remington offices was about a Kentucky mountaineer who returned a typewritten letter he had received with a marginal notation, "You don't need to print no letters for me. I kin read writin'."

Mark Twain called the typewriter a "curiosity-breeding little joker", but became one of the first to type his manuscripts in 1874. Still, when the Remington Model 1 typewriter was featured at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial practically the only revenue it generated was from selling samples of typewriting for 25¢ a piece.

In 1878 Remington introduced a shift key to enable the typewriter to print both upper and lower case letters and gradually it became more important in business. In 1903 Remington broke with the Union Typewriting Company and became the Remington Typewriter Company.

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