February 8, 2007


And the man behind the brand is...
Lyman Smith

As hard as it is to believe now there was a passionate debate over the merits of a new typewriter innovation in 1895 - the typist could now see his work. At the Union Typewriter Company management officials hotly contested the merits of the new typing methods.

The four Smith brothers were convinced that the future growth of writing machines depended on seeing the lines. Their partners with whom they had merged in 1893, Remington, Caligraph & Densmore wanted to make typewriters the way they had since introducing the first commercial typewriter in 1873.

The Smiths left and formed the L.C. Smith Brothers Typewriting Company in 1903. Back in 1887 Lyman Cornelius Smith led his brothers Wilbert, Monroe and Hurlbut into the typewriting business to finance the development of a typewriter able to use both upper and lower case letters without shifting. The Smith-Premier typewriter from Syracuse, New York spread the Smith name to offices around the world.

Now the Smiths introduced Model 1, Serial 1 with 76 characters. That first machine was sold to the New York Herald where it operated in the newsroom 24 hours a day for 8 years before it was traded for a newer model. It resurfaced in 1934 still going strong. With that track record for their very first machine the brothers had no difficulty establishing a reputation for quality.

In 1925 L.C. Smith merged with the Corona Typewriting Company and a year later Hurlbut Smith, the youngest of the brothers, retired at the age of 60. He was always active in the community supporting libraries, roads and education. A religious man, Smith was legally adopted as a member of the Seneca Indian tribe in 1908.

But the company was hit hard by the Depression. Sales fell so sharply that Hurlbut Smith was recalled from retirement and elected president at the age of 68. Friends advised against returning to the floundering company, risking his health and reputation. But it was his family business.

Smith reversed the ebb of sales and restored Smith-Corona's vitality. He instilled pride and a sense of repsonsibility with the workers. He worked alongside the employees, ate in the cafeteria and bowled in company leagues. And, most importantly, he did not reduce the work force of over 5000 in hard times.

As the company recovered Smith-Corona developed "Quiet Machines" in 1935 and in World War II the factories were humming in support of the war effort, first turning out Springfield rifles and then cranking out typewriters. Smith ran the company well into the 1950s post-war prosperity. He had returned to his company at an age when most executives were winding down their careers and guided it to even greater heights.

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