February 8, 2007


And the man behind the brand is...
Elihu Yale

Elihu Yale was born in Boston in 1649 but shortly returned to London with his father. As a young man Yale set to sea for adventure. He went to Madras with the East India Company as an agent and wound up as Governor of the English trading post, Fort St. Georges.

In 1699 Yale returned to London with a considerable, if somewhat shady, fortune in tow. By 1710 Yale was looking forward to the end of his life and a settling of his affairs. Childless, Yale sought a legal heir to his great estate. He summoned a cousin's son from America, 15-year old David Yale from North Haven, Connecticut.

At the same time the ten-year old Collegiate School was barely surviving when word came to the trustees that a local boy was sailing to England to inherit a fortune. What would it hurt to send along a letter of introduction with the boy to take to the great Governor?

Nothing worked out for any of the parties. Young Yale must have had a falling out with his wealthy relative because he returned to Boston on the next sailing to live out his life humbly on his North Haven farm. But the Collegiate School officials did not forget Elihu Yale.

By this time a permanent site for the school had been selected and books were being solicited. Another letter to Yale yielded 30-40 books although it was noted by a trustee at the time, "that it was very little considering his Estate." The Collegiate School renewed their attack on the coffers of Governor Yale.

Meanwhile educator Cotton Mather suffered a falling out with Harvard College and wrote to Yale on behalf of the "little Collegiate School at New Haven", with which he had no official connection. Mather suggested, "What is forming at New Haven might wear the name of Yale College. It would be better than a name of sons and daughters." Mather had no authority to approach Yale in any capacity, let alone concocting a name for the Connecticut school from Boston.

But Governor Yale's resistance was weakening. The Collegiate School's London agent convinced him to send a shipment of goods worth 800 pounds to the new school in 1718. When the three bales arrived in America the trustees sold them for 562 pounds. It remained the largest private donation to the school for over 100 years.

Yale sent another 100 pounds before he died in 1721 at the age of 72. Representatives of Yale College tried to interest his three daughters in the school but nothing more came from the vast Yale estate. In 1724 David Yale was awarded an honorary degree for his part in the entire strange business.


And the man behind the brand is...
Cornelius Vanderbilt

When he died in 1877 at the age of 82 Cornelius Vanderbilt was the richest man to ever die in the United States. At a time when $100,000 was a considerable fortune, Vanderbilt had accumulated over 100 million dollars at the time of his death.

On March 17, 1873 the railroad baron signed over one million dollars to Bishop McTyeire to build and endow a university in the war-torn South. It was by far the greatest gift to education to date.

Commodore Vanderbilt attached five conditions to the gift. The first three stipulated the confidence he placed in the school founder, Bishop McTyeire. The fourth stated that the bequest was forever inviolable and would be kept safely invested. Only the interest was to be used in carrying on the University. The last condition required that the new institution be built in or near Nashville, Tennessee. The selection of Nashville was not inspired by any creative muse. Vanderbilt simply looked at a railroad map and observed Nashville was a strategic center of the South, easily accessible for the whole region.

Why had Cornelius Vanderbilt made this extraordinary donation? The only recorded statement of his purpose was a letter to Bishop McTyeire: "I tender my personal expressions of extreme regard, trusting that the healthful growth of the institution may be as great as I know it is your desire and determination to make it - and if it shall, through its influence, contribute, even in the smallest degree, to strengthening the ties which should exist between all geographical sections of our common country, I shall feel it has accomplished one of the objects that led me to take an interest in it."

Apparently the bequest was nothing more than a goodwill gesture to the South. Most of the aid going to the South at the time was obligatory assistance to rebuild a part of the nation. Vanderbilt's largesse was probably just a way of doing something for the people of the South.

On April 28, 1874 the cornerstone of the first building was laid. Classes began in October of 1875. Cornelius Vanderbilt never saw the university that bears his name.


And the man behind the brand is...
Paul Tulane

Paul Tulane was secretive by nature. He would tell no one what he was working on or how he was investing his money. His attorneys knew only sketches of his affairs. So when Tulane summoned Louisiana representatives to his Princeton, New Jersey home in his 80th year only he knew the meeting's purpose.

Tulane's family had settled in the rolling central New Jersey hills in the last years of the 18th century. The Tulanes were French Huguenots who fled the French Revolution for Santo Domingo where they quickly established a profitable lumber trade. A violent Negro uprising in 1791 forced the family to flee again, arriving in Princeton in 1795.

Paul Tulane was born in 1801 and educated in private schools. He began a career as a merchant but in 1819 a wealthy cousin from France arrived in Princeton, where he stopped on his way to an extensive tour of the American west. When he left Paul Tulane went with him.

At the end of their travels in early 1822 Tulane returned to Princeton and began planning a move to New Orleans. He arrived in November 1922 and lived there off and on for the next 50 years. With help from his father Tulane began wholesaling clothes, shoes and hats. He also opened a retail store. Soon he and his agents were pushing up the Mississippi River taking orders from the regions he had just explored with his cousin.

Paul Tulane & Company became a well-known firm throughout the Mississippi Valley. The timing was propitious. New Orleans was just blossoming as a major port city in the new steam age. Tulane prospered along with the city. Soon he had stores all over the booming town.

The Civil War brought an end to the greatest prosperity New Orleans would know for another 100 years. Tulane's income dropped but most of his capital survived. He emerged from the war with his wealth intact but his feeling for his adopted city severely diminished. He had inherited his father's Princeton property and went home to New Jersey, returning to New Orleans only on winter trips.

Now, fifteen years later, Tulane was still well-known in Louisiana and state officials readily agreed to visit him in Princeton. Tulane was a restless, dynamic man who never took the time to marry. Through his life he had given money to ministries, churches and missions regardless of denomination. Although he loved New Orleans and spoke fluent French he never identified with Louisiana' Creole heritage. So it was with considerable surprise that the Louisiana delegation accepted a gift of $288,000 in property to use for education.

There was much discussion on how to use the gift. Tulane provided some guidelines but no specifics. It was finally decided to bolster the wobbly University of Louisiana, to be known thereafter as the Tulane University of Louisiana.

In addition to original gift, one of the largest of its kind yet made, Tulane University expected it was only the beginning. Tulane's New Orleans attorney drafted a codicil leaving the University his entire estate.

Tulane died unexpectedly in 1887 at the age of 86. But no one could find his will. Would such a clever businessman not leave a will? Did someone destroy it during the search? No one knew if he ever signed the document naming Tulane University as his beneficiary. It was known that in his last months that Tulane thought the University was spending his money recklessly. Had that caused Tulane to destroy any existing will?

No one ever knew. A will was never found and Tulane's estate, estimated at over one million dollars was distributed among a distant nephew and grandnieces and grandnephews. Tulane University received no further cash gifts. The man who lived so secretly had taken his deepest secret with him.


And the man behind the brand is...
Leland Stanford

“I have planned that long after I shall have crumbled into dust the...establishment founded by me at Palo Alto shall endure,” said Leland Stanford. He was speaking, of course, about his horse-breeding farm. But that was before.

Leland Stanford grew up in upstate New York, the middle child in a brood of seven. After passing the bar in 1848 the 24-year old Stanford took his bride, an Albany merchant’s daughter, to the Wisconsin frontier to practice law. His law career was abruptly interrupted four years later by a town inferno that destroyed his office and library.

Rather than rebuild, Stanford headed to California where he joined his brothers in the Gold Rush. A single-minded, plodding man Stanford wasted no time in the gold fields but rather sold equipment to the more adventurous gold seekers. In a few years he was a respected man of means in the community.

Stanford now turned his talents to politics, organizing the Republican party in California. In 1861 he was elected governor, a fortuitous stroke of timing for all involved. For the federal government Stanford held California in the Union and in return Stanford would wield tremendous clout in a new project approved by President Lincoln in 1862 - the transcontinental railroad.

Stanford became president of the Central Pacific Railroad, joining with three other men in what proved to be one of the most successful partnerships in American capitalism. The monopoly, known as the Big Four, pushed the railroad from the west to join the Union Pacific Railroad coming from the east.

The Central Pacific bore the worst of the bargain. Snow lay sixty feet deep in the passes of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Progress many days was measured in inches. Hordes of Chinese workers labored under showsheds, track crews battled biting winds and blasting teams chipped away at rock so hard that a new explosive - nitroglycerin - had to be manufactured to forge ahead.

Stanford was at the head of the track, helping supervise some of the hardest work ever done in America, sleeping wrapped in buffalo robes on flat cars. When the work was completed and the transcontinental railroad joined at Promontory, Utah in 1869 the Big Four realized a profit of fifty-four million dollars. At least that is what was reported: the books were “lost.”

Despite the public outcry Stanford and his partners continued to control California’s transportation for the next two decades. Away from the railroad business Stanford established a spectacular horse breeding farm on a huge parcel of land in Palo Alto. There, he became embroiled in the debate of the day over whether or not a horse lifted all four hooves off the ground simultaneously when running.

The methodical Stanford solved the conundrum by commissioning a photographer to arrange a series of cameras triggered by a trip wire when a horse trotted by. Later the images were affixed sequentially to glass plates and projected across the wall of the Stanford mansion. The industry that grew out of these first “movies” would soon identify California more than Stanford’s Central Pacific.

But by this time Stanford’s life had changed. His only son, Leland Jr., had contracted typhoid fever on a European tour and died in Florence, Italy in his fifteenth year, 1884. Incolsolate, Stanford spent a month in Europe while those close to him feared for his sanity. Finally, he resolved that, “since I could do no more for my boy I might do something for other people’s boys in Leland’s name.”

He visited Cambridge to study Harvard and seek advice on building a university. When told it would take five or six million dollars Stanford never hesitated. Ground was broken on Leland Jr.’s birthday in 1887 under the auspices of famed landscaper Frederick Law Olmstead. The finished campus, distinguished by powerful Romanesque colonnades and red tile roofs, was anointed by Frank Lloyd Wright as the greatest university architecture he had ever seen.

Leland Stanford Junior University greeted its first class in 1891. Stanford, his health broken by the lingering effects of too many winter nights in the Sierras and his son’s death, died two years later. He did not live to see even that first class graduate but Leland Stanford had surely built as enduring an institution as his railroad.


And the man behind the brand is...
Henry Rutgers

Queen's College was established by Royal edict in New Jersey in 1766, launching more than 50 years of struggle. Classes commenced in a reclaimed hotel in 1771; the first graduating class three years later consisted of one Person: Matthew Leydt, a theology student.

By 1825 officials decided to change the school name in hopes of reversing the college's sagging fortunes. The man they sought to honor was Henry Rutgers who, cynics might contend, had three things to recommend him: he was rich, he was elderly and he was a bachelor.

Rutgers had been a former trustee of Queen's College from 1815 until 1821 when he resigned due to ill health. In 1825 he had no connection to the college, save for a friendship with president Dr. Milledoler. The official proclamation from the college stated that, "it is named for him as a mark of their respect for his character and gratitude for his numerous services rendered the Reformed Dutch Church."

However Henry Rutgers was not undeserving of this honor he did not seek. His family landed in Albany, New York from Holland in 1636 and gained great wealth and repute both there and in New York City. Henry was born in 1745 and served as a Captain in the Revolutionary War. In colonial America Rutgers served in the New York State Assembly but did not give attention to any business other than managing his land holdings. He leased large chunks of the lower East Side of New York City.

In the last years of his life Rutgers was one of New York's most prominent citizens. He gave land freely to schools, churches and public institutions. Surely the Queen's College trustees hoped that some of his benefactions would come their way after they changed the school name to Rutgers College.

Rutgers did give the college $200 for a bell that continues to ring out class hours but another donor gave over $2000 for the cupola housing the bell. Finally in 1827 Rutgers endowed the college with $5000, enough money to allow the school to inch towards prosperity. The Rutgers name also helped recruit New York men across the river to the small school.

It was a large gift for the time but only a small fraction of Rutger's wealth, estimated at over $900,000 when he died in 1830 at the age of 85. Rutgers established a gold medal in perpetuity to be given annually to the medical student with the best dissertation but that is all that is known that he donated.


And the man behind the brand is...
William Rice

For most of the plot the story of Rice University and its benefactor followed a classic blueprint: young man leaves Springfield, Massachusetts for opportunity in the West, opens commission business, invests in cotton processing and real estate and railroads, becomes one of richest men in Texas before the Civil War, marries twice but is childless and decides to donate fortune to education.

A classic tale until the final chapter.

As William March Rice would down an active business career in the 1870s he drew up a plan for the care and education of indigent children. Although living in New York City his business interests still lay in Houston, a town he had helped build. He was approached to contribute to Houston public education but he begged off, explaining that he had outlined an entire education plan in his will.

Rice was prevailed on to act sooner and he established the William M. Rice Institute for the Advancement of Literature, Science & Art in 1891. He endowed the proposed school with a 9-acre parcel of land in Houston but still refused to implement the school in his lifetime.

Unexpectedly Rice’s wife died in 1896 and when her will was revealed it contained provisions that threatened the Institute’s future. She left some $1,500,000 of Rice’s money, which under Texas law she was entitled to, to her relatives. Stunned, Rice contested the will on the grounds that the Rices were living in New York for over 30 years at the time of her death.

The legal haggling dragged on for years until the 86-year old Rice was found dead in his New York apartment in 1900. At first his death was attributed to “eating nine bananas on the advice of some woman that caused an attack of acute indigestion and resulted in a general weakening of the body.”

But it quickly came to light that one of the attorneys hired by his wife’s estate, Albert Patrick, was connected with substantial sums of Rice’s money. It seems Patrick had forged a will in which he was named as principal beneficiary. Upon further investigation Charles Jones, Rice’s secretary, confessed to chloroforming the millionaire in his sleep on instructions from Patrick.

Rice’s estate was not settled until 1904. The Rice Institute received, to the penny, $4,631,259.08 - the seventh largest endowment to that time. The school finally opened in 1912, the same year Patrick was pardoned from his life sentence for ineptly orchestrating William Rice’s murder.


And the man behind the brand is...
John Purdue

John Purdue was the only son of nine children. It was an accident of birth that continues to have a profound effect on thousands of young men and women each year. Purdue was born in a log cabin in the foothills of eastern Pennsylvania in 1802. When John was 21 the family set out for the western frontier, an arduous journey which took the life of his father and one of his sisters.

The Purdues continued heading west in what became a search for husbands. By the time they reached Illinois six of the seven Purdue girls had married. Now John struck out on his own. He taught school for several years until he had saved $450 to put a 50% downpayment on 160 acres in Marion County, Ohio in 1831.

Purdue farmed for a year and sold his land for $1200, taking the profit to begin a business brokering hogs. He formed a partnership with a former student to expand his mercantile business. In the late 1830s Purdue came to Lafayette, Indiana, a town he had visited on sales trips, to re-establish the mercantile trade.

Lafayette was a town founded only 15 years earlier by a man destined to become the town drunk. It was a bawdy, brawling settlement where pigs rooted freely through the streets. But when the Wabash & Erie Canal opened Lafayette became the leading city of the Wabash River. And Purdue became a leading citizen as Lafayette's most successful merchant.

Purdue never married. He was extremely shy around women, harking back to his female-dominated upbringing. Instead of his own family Purdue took a great interest in the children of Lafayette. He would often entertain children with stories and tea parties. When Indiana provided free schools in 1851 Purdue was one of the first to serve on the school board.

In 1855 Purdue left for New York City to establish a commission house which did spectacular business as a chief supplier of pork to the Union Army during the Civil War. Purdue became known as the "King of Produce" or, more often, "Mr. Pork." When he retired to Lafayette after the war Purdue was a rich man.

He spent the last years of his life in Lafayette earning fame but dismantling his fortune. He lived simply, only taking care of his own needs. His only indulgences were a weakness for oysters which he would ship from the East Coast and a passion for train travel. He never drank. But John Purdue was a vain man.

He received many suggestions on how to spread his wealth - and always had a special fondness for those causes he could put his name on. When it was suggested to build a public library, reading room, lecture hall and art gallery in downtown Lafayette and call it Purdue Institute he readily agreed to cover 1/3 of the $75,000 cost.

His quest for fame extended to politics. He ran for Congress as an independent in favor of a compassionate Reconstruction. To spearhead his campaign he purchased the Lafayette Journal as a sounding board. Purdue lost the election and many friends. He was left with a residue of hard feeling, a newspaper he no longer wanted and a pile of campaign debts he could ill-afford.

Purdue continued to support the children of Indiana. He pledged $150,000 to start Purdue University in 1874, just before he died at the age of 72. His death revealed a splintering personal fortune. His debts approached $500,000, mostly incurred during his last year of life as he tried to build a railroad. He still owed the University $65,000 which they finally received in 1880.

But John Purdue had provided the impetus for one of the great educational institutions of the Midwest. He was buried a few feet east of the unfinished main campus building, now University Hall on the current Memorial Mall.

Johns Hopkins

And the man behind the brand is...
Johns Hopkins

Unlike most colleges that creak and sputter into existence from meager beginnings Johns Hopkins erupted as a full-blown university all at once from the largest bequest ever made. When Johns Hopkins died in 1874 his will stipulated that half of his $8 million fortune be used to establish a university, not a college but a full-ranging university to promote study and research in Maryland.

Hopkins had set up a board of trustees to administer his will but no one was quite certain what Hopkins had in mind for his university; he addressed only two paragraphs of his will to the matter. He was, however, quite specific about one point: the university would be connected to a hospital on the site. Hopkins described in detail the size, location and general character of the hospital.

It was not an American concept to link a school and a hospital; it is not known where he came up with the idea but it went a long way towards insuring the future success of the institution. The private Hopkins had left few clues in his writings, which were few, and his public appearances, which were none. Despite his aversion to the spotlight by the time of his death Hopkins was a well-known Baltimore figure.

Johns Hopkins was born on the family tobacco plantation outside Annapolis, in the rich Chesapeake Bay tidewater region of Maryland, in 1795. Early on he was given the best schooling but in 1807 his Quaker parents decided it was hardly consistent with their beliefs to maintain slaves. All the plantation’s slaves were freed. Johns was called back from school to help in the fields. What schooling he could glean in the future would come from night study.

When he was 17 an uncle, impressed with Hopkins’ work habits, invited him to Baltimore to apprentice as a merchant. He took to the work quickly and in 1819 he opened his own business with $800 in saved wages. Hopkins initially had a partner but the union lasted only three years because the other man thought Hopkins possessed too great a love for making money.

It was an evaluation others would make over the course of his life as well.
In matters of the heart Hopkins was in love once - with his cousin. Their parents objected to the proposed marriage and both would stay single for the remainder of their lives. There is no indication, however, that Hopkins was driven more resolutely into business by the affair.

Hopkins had traded far down the Shenandoah Valley for years, relying on bulky wagons to pull his merchandise. So when America’s first railroad, the Baltimore & Ohio, started pushing west in the 1830s Hopkins was an early investor. Many more businessmen, leery of the iron horse, invested in conservative canal stocks. The Baltimore & Ohio added considerably to Hopkins’ wealth.

Hopkins’ clearly loved the pursuit of the dollar but his equally arduous in giving it away. His one extravagance was his home while the whole of Baltimore benefited greatly from his presence. He cleared out a slum area that had formed in the Baltimore Basin on the town’s north harbor, building new warehouses. At his death Johns Hopkins was considered to have contributed more largely than any other individual to Baltimore’s welfare.

And then came the bequest. Almost four million dollars. The only stipulations were that the principle could not be used for buildings or current expenses, there were to be certain free scholarships and a bit of advice not to tamper with that B & O stock. Despite the cryptic instructions Hopkins had chosen his board wisely and, with his fabulous foundation, created one of America’s great research universities.


And the man behind the brand is...
John Harvard

About the namesake of America's oldest and best known college almost nothing is known. There is a statue of John Harvard on the Cambridge, Massachusetts campus but no one knows what John Harvard looked liked. The model for the memorial was a long forgotten graduate student.

John Harvard was the son of an English butcher who died with four of his children of the plague in 1625. Harvard, born in 1608 survived the disease and came to Boston in the summer of 1637 as a Puritan minister only to succumb to Tuberculosis less than a year later.

Harvard left 779 pounds, almost $4000, and his entire library to a small school that the Massachusetts Bay Colony Great General Court had chartered in 1636. It was the first gift to the school, immediately named Harvard College, and remained the largest bequest for 50 years.

Harvard's personal library consisted of 400 books. All but one volume was lost in a devastating fire in 1764. The lone survivor was an overdue book that was out three months to a student named Briggs. It remains Harvard's only tangible link to its founder.


And the man behind the brand is...
James Duke

The Duke family home outside the tiny hamlet of Durham was stripped bare by marauding Union soldiers as they marched through North Carolina. Family legend has it that a small quantity of bright leaf tobacco was overlooked, providing a tiny lifeline. The family, including 9-year old James Buchanan, gathered the tobacco and sorted it into small packages labeled "Pro Boro Publico."

They hitched their blind mules to a wagon and drove to the southern part of North Carolina where tobacco was scarce. Their small supply sold easily and the money was reinvested into more tobacco. By 1872 the Dukes had sold 125,000 pounds, one of the leading producers in the area. The tobacco was processed in a log house factory in what is now the heart of Duke University.

Adept with numbers as a student James Duke completed a business course at Eastman College in record time and at 14 was put in charge of boys in the family factory. In 1878, at the age of 22, James took charge of W. Duke & Sons and in 1883 he traveled to New York to introduce his firm to the national tobacco business.

When the government passed a law reducing the cigarette tax by 2/3 Duke immediately reduced the price of his cigarettes from 10¢ to 5¢ a pack two months ahead of the law's enactment. This lightning strike, combined with widespread advertising, secured over 59% of the United States cigarette market by 1889.

Tobacco wars broke out and older companies offered to buy Duke's company. He had other ideas and consolidated all his competitors under the banner of American Tobacco, with Duke as its president. He was 34 years old.

In the beginning 90% of the American Tobacco Company's business was in cigarettes but Duke quickly diversified the product line. American Snuff, American Cigar and a plug tobacco company followed. Only the cigar venture failed to return huge profits.

Seventeen years later the Department of Justice broke up the tobacco trust. With the tobacco industry reorganized Duke turned to electricity and providing cheap power to the South. He had become interested in water power in 1904 and now the Southern Power Company occupied his business talents.

In 1924 Duke endowed a small college with $135,000,000, mostly from his holdings in Southern Power, which came to be named after him. It was the fourth largest endowment in history. "I have succeeded in business," Duke noted, "not because I have more natural ability than those who have not succeeded, but because I have applied myself harder and stuck to it longer."


And the man behind the brand is...
Ezra Cornell

The public always seems slow to grasp the importance of new ideas: the automobile will never replace the horse, people will never abandon their radios in the evening to watch television, and so on. It was that way with the telegraph; the federal government was not interested in developing the technology and even its inventor Robert Morse could not envision how he had revolutionized communication.

Ezra Cornell could. When he heard of Morse’s telegraph the 34-year old millwright from upstate New York left his home and set out on foot for Albany.
He covered the 160 miles in 4 days. He boarded a train to Boston and walked 100 more miles to Maine, his final destination. Cornell had made this arduous journey just to visit the contractor who had won the bid to lay the first telegraph line outside Washington.

The contractor needed a machine to dig the ditch, lay the pipe and cover it. Cornell built such a machine and took over the experimental line. Even before he finished the job Cornell convinced Morse that lines strung on poles would be more serviceable and invented a new type of insulation making such an installation possible.

The experimental telegraph line was a success but the federal government passed on undertaking widespread installation. The indefatigable Cornell single-handedly raised capital and began building short lines. With great struggle he connected Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh with telegraph service. Competition was bitter among the short lines and soon they faced bankruptcy.

The solution, as Cornell clearly saw, was to form one large operating company. In 1855 he put together Western Union Telegraph. Cornell was the largest stockholder and a director for the remaining 20 years of his life as the telegraph made its greatest contributions to United States history, particularly during the Civil War.

With the telegraph firmly established Cornell returned to upstate New York to use his wealth. In 1857 he bought a farm at the edge of Ithaca and turned Forest Park into a model agricultural institution. As a youth Cornell had to borrow books to read so in 1863 he gave Ithaca a library - one of America’s first - and shrewdly named politicians of all parties and ministers of different churches as trustees to insure its success.

Cornell became of president of the New York State Agricultural Society and trustee of the New Agricultural College in Seneca County. When the new school needed money Cornell pledged $500,000 and moved the newly named Cornell University to Ithaca.

Cornell’s vision for education was as far-reaching as his plans for communication - and just as much an anathema. In a time when all schools carried a strong religious connection Cornell wanted no denominational ties for his school. Before Cornell all students had to follow a strict curriculum. He established an institution “where any person can find instruction in any study.” And Cornell expected that women would have an equal opportunity to compete in scholarship with men.

Bitter controversy over his motives and character raged as state legislators debated the transformation of their agricultural college. Cornell was attacked as “Godless” and it was implied he was somehow trying to rob the state. Geographically removed from Civil War battlefields the controversy at times upstaged the great war from the Ithaca papers. Finally on September 5, 1865 bills passed to establish Cornell’s university. The master builder had persevered once more and introduced a disbelieving public to the future.


And the man behind the brand is...
Nicholas Brown

Few schools formed in colonial times were fortunate enough to weld their fortunes to as solid a benefactor as Nicholas Brown, Jr. The son of a wealthy merchant, Brown graduated from tiny Rhode Island College, then 22 years old, in 1786. His oration was a prophetic presentation on “The Advantages of Commerce.”

Brown embarked on a great career as a Rhode Island merchant that would span half a century. His ships could be seen on all waters of the globe. In 1791, after the death of his father, he formed one of New England’s largest mercantile houses with his brother-in-law Thomas Ives. The firm would go on to pioneer American trade with India and China.

His father had been an early patron of Rhode Island College and Brown was named a trustee to the school in 1791 at the age of 22. In 1796 Brown was named treasurer. Devoted to his state, Brown’s efforts helped make tiny Rhode Island one of young America’s most prosperous states. A staunch Federalist in his early years, Brown switched to the Whig party and served many years in the state legislature.

In 1804 he awarded his alma mater a gift of $5000 and school officials voted to rename the school Brown University. Over the years Brown’s largess to the school would total $159,000, insuring the success of the institution.

Brown did not confine his philanthropic activities to education. He withdrew from business in 1836 and addressed many social ills afflicting his home state. With his death in 1841 at the age of 72 Brown left $30,000 for the establishment of an insane asylum, in addition to his final bequests to Brown University.


And the man behind the brand is...
Robert Baylor

Robert Emmett Bledsoe Baylor was 45 years old when he became a Christian in 1839. To that point he had led a colorful atheistic life on the American frontier. He had fought in the War of 1812 and studied law in the offices of his uncle, United States Senator Jesse Bledsoe of Kentucky. Baylor was elected to the Kentucky legislature and then moved to Alabama which sent him to the United States Congress in 1829 to work with Andrew Jackson. He returned to Alabama to lead a regiment against the Creek Indians in 1836.

But such was the strength of his religious conversion that now Baylor became a Baptist minister and set out for Texas. He settled in La Grange where he organized a Baptist Church and established a small school for those unable to pay tuition. Baylor was quickly an esteemed member of the community and was overwhelmingly elected Judge in La Grange in 1841. For the next 25 years Baylor would travel by horseback across Texas establishing courts, churches and schools.

Baylor believed that Texas needed a Baptist college for its people and as President of the Education Society applied to the Texas Congress for a charter in 1845. The bill passed through the legislature, albeit without a permanent name. Baylor pushed to name the school after William Tryon, who had done most of the pioneering work for the institution.

Tryon objected saying, "I have done so much work that it might look like I was doing it all for my own honor if we use my name and this might injure the prospects of the school." So he wrote "Baylor" in the blank space on the charter.

Baylor then objected, "First, I do not think I am worthy of such a distinction; second, my humble donation ($1000) might be misunderstood and the motives prompting it misunderstood." The school had been Baylor's idea and his objection was outvoted.

Independence, Texas outbid three other locations to house the new school. With the leadership of its founders, however humble, Baylor was the only one of 15 institutions chartered by the Republic of Texas to survive.


And the man behind the brand is...
Albert Spalding

Albert Goodwill Spalding was the best known baseball man in the United States in the 19th century having played a part in every major development in the early history of professional baseball. He shrewdly used his fame to build the greatest sporting goods empire in the world. Whenever Americans thought about going out to play they thought Spalding.

Spalding was born outside Chicago in 1850 into a family of some means. His father died when he was eight and his mother, who had an inheritance from the death of her first husband, moved the family to Rockford, Illinois.

Here Spalding showed natural baseball talent, excelling as a pitcher for the local Rockford nine. At the age of 17 Spalding was a strapping 6'1" and 170 pounds. He began establishing a widespread reputation as a pitcher for the powerful Forest City Club. In 1871 Spalding signed a contract for $1500 with the Boston Red Stockings in baseball's first professional league.

Pitching virtually every game Spalding became the premier pitcher in the game. The Red Stockings finished in second place in 1871 and then reeled off four consecutive league championships. Spalding, in succession, won 21, 36, 41, 52, and 56 games. He was baseball's first 200-game winner.

In 1876 Spalding had a hand in forming the new National League. He went to Chicago to play for and manage the Chicago White Stockings franchise.
In addition to his $2000 salary Spalding received 25% of the gate receipts.
Before the season started Spalding took his team on a two-week southern swing
of exhibition games with amateur teams, each selected for their largest profit potential. It was baseball's first spring training.

Spalding's White Stockings won the first National League championship with a 52-14 record. Spalding personally won 46 of those games. But in 1877 an injury limited Spalding to only four starts and the team tumbled to 5th place. Spalding was heavily criticized for his managing and accused of "having too many irons in the fire." He retired from playing and managing after 1877 to become Secretary of the White Stockings.

One of Spalding's "irons" was a sporting goods house he opened in 1876 with his brother Walter. Other players had entered the bustling sporting goods trade but Spalding soon overwhelmed them all. His national reputation as a pitcher helped but his connection with the White Stockings, whose owner was also National League president, was his biggest asset.

A.G. Spalding & Brother occupied the same offices as the Chicago ballclub. Spalding received the contract to supply all National League baseballs in exchange for the designation as "Official Major League Baseball." In 1879 Spalding began to manufacture his own products when he bought a croquet-and-baseball bat company. The firm was renamed the Spalding Manufacturing Company.

Spalding gained exclusive rights to publish the first "Official League Book" in 1876. At the same time he introduced "Spalding's Official Baseball Guide." It was not connected with the National League in any way but Al Spalding did little to dissuade that natural assumption. Spalding was soon selling 50,000 Guides a year which not only promoted Spalding's sporting goods and Spalding himself, but attracted advertising dollars as well. By 1892 Spalding's American Sports Publishing Company was a separate concern, eventually producing 300 different publications on every conceivable sport or physical activity.

Lest anyone not know who the authoritative author of the Guide might be, Spalding printed a full-page, autographed picture of himself inside. Spalding was not the first to recognize the money-making possibilities of sport but he was the best. As a promoter he was often mentioned in the same breath as the other great entertainment promoter of the times, P.T. Barnum.

Spalding promoted his team heavily through the newspapers.
To him controversy and criticism were as important as praise and like George Steinbrenner a century later, Spalding was often at the center of any ruckus.
He tried to stage a game between his White Stockings and a team of "picked nine from other teams in the evening under electric lights." Baseball's first all-star game and first night game did not materialize but Spalding used his lights to illuminate a toboggan slide in the park.

The White Stockings won the pennant in 1880 and 1881 and Spalding became president in 1882. The powerful club won again in 1882, 1885 and 1886. Spalding arranged the first post-season championship matches, again to make Spalding money. His Chicago team, at the instigation of players, drew baseball's color line by refusing to play against the few blacks in professional baseball in 1884.
It would be another 64 years before blacks again played in the major leagues.

Spalding had first become involved in lucrative barnstorming baseball exhibition to other countries in 1875 when he arranged a baseball and cricket tour of England. In 1888 off-season Spalding organized the first round-the-world tour of major league baseball players. Publicity-generating events like these were important to Spalding to establish his reputation as "America's leading sportsman."

In the 1890s Spalding sponsored and managed a bicycle team at the height of the bicycle craze. He was head of the American delegation to the second modern Olympic games in 1900 in Paris. Each venture, of course, sold Spalding's wide array of sporting goods. Spalding was not only the major supplier of the 1904 St. Louis Olympics but built the stadium as well.

Albert Spalding viewed baseball as a railroad baron or oil tycoon looked at their businesses. He crushed employee revolts, like the Player's League in 1890 and stifled competition from rival leagues and franchises whenever possible. In 1891, owner of the largest sporting goods firm in the world and weary of his baseball battles, Spalding retired. But his activities hardly slackened.

His formal retirement lasted ten years when he returned to thwart an attempt to turn baseball into a monopolistic National League Baseball Trust with all players, owners and franchises owned by a single corporation that would "arrange" competitions. A contemporary sports magazine wrote: "So A.G. Spalding is coming back into baseball, eh? Pray, when did he ever leave it? You may not have observed him but he was there all the time."

In 1902, at the urging of his second wife, Spalding became a member of the Raja Yoga Theosophical Society and moved to San Diego, California. He ended his direct involvement in baseball and in business but worked on special projects. Spalding authorized a baseball history, America's National Game, in 1911.
Much of it was factually questionable, including Spalding's fabrication of Abner Doubleday as the inventor of baseball, but was hugely influential in baseball lore.

In 1910 Spalding ran for the United States Senate from California. He always believed baseball prepared men for life and regarded political service as the ultimate extension of this rise to respectability. Spalding had always sought to make the rough-hewn baseball of the 19th century a "respectable" game.
To this end he banned liquor and Sunday games in Chicago.

Still, he accepted his nomination with reluctance. He attached conditions to his drafting: no special interests, no personal canvassing of the state, and he would only spend $7500 - the same amount a United States Senator earned. Spalding assumed the nominating committee would reject his demands but he was wrong.
Despite not entering the race until mid-July Spalding carried the majority of the Senatorial and Assembly Districts but the California Legislature elected to send another candidate to Washington, ending his political career.

Albert Spalding died of a series of strokes at the age of 65 in 1915, the same year a Baltimore youngster by the name of George Herman Ruth hit his first major league home run. Spalding was elected to baseball's Hall of Fame in 1939. His plaque in Cooperstown reads:

Parker Brothers

And the man behind the brand is...
George Parker

What would a life devoted to playing games be like? Would a life of fun and games be, well, all fun and games? Such was the life of George S. Parker.

Parker was born in 1867 in Salem, Massachusetts, the third youngest son of a well-to-do merchant. George was a tall, gangly youth who dreamed of world travel as a foreign correspondent. George and his friends were great games enthusiasts who formed an informal club playing old favorites like chess, checkers and dominoes.

The boys also played America’s first board game, THE MANSION OF HAPPINESS, created by a minister’s daughter. No one in the club liked “Mansion” much. As with all board games of the time it was preachy and piously moral. America’s Puritan heritage died hard; 250 years after the Pilgrims playing cards and dice were forbidden as the tools of the devil. George believed that the purpose of a game was to provide fun, not to teach moral principles.

In 1883, 16-year old George Parker invented the GAME OF BANKING. The object of the game, consisting of 160 cards and a “bank,” was to see who could profit the most from speculation and borrowed most. At the end of the game the richest player was declared the winner.

The club enjoyed the game immensely and Arthur Wellington, a member of the group, suggested to parker that other people might like it too. He persuaded George to try and sell it to a company that produced games. Parker took BANKING to two Boston book publishers. Both turned it down, but one suggested that George try and publish the game himself since he thought so much of it.

Parker borrowed $50 to have 500 sets of cards printed and packaged in boxes. With $10 leftover he took a leave of absence from school and embarked on a sales trip through southern New England. By Christmas he had sold all but two dozen copies of BANKING and cleared almost $100 in profits.

Despite his success George Parker was skeptical about becoming a games inventor and publisher on a permanent basis but his brother urged him to pursue his love of games. He founded the George S. Parker Company, spending the majority of his time developing new games and play-testing them.

To insure that all the games he published remained fun to play time after time, he played every game with employees, friends and anyone else he could persuade to sit down with him. He noted the points over which they seemed confused and the time when the pace of the game seemed too slow. Even though George was a busy head of a fast-growing business, he personally wrote the rules of every new game.

By 1888 Parker’s catalog described 29 games, most of which he invented himself. With the games business booming George persuaded his older brother Charles, an shrewd and practical oilman, to join the company full-time, and they renamed it Parker Brothers. Edward Parker, the oldest brother came on board in 1898.

Ironically, profits from the moralistic games, the rights to which he bought, fueled money for Parker’s fun games. But by the 1890s, known as the Gay Nineties, the public was eager for fun. Parker Brothers experienced a great period of growth with games reflecting the times.

Over the years Parker Brothers introduced games base on the Spanish-American War (THE SIEGE OF HAVANA and BATTLE OF MANILA), the Alaskan Gold Rush (KLONDIKE), the automobile (THE MOTOR CARRIAGE GAME) and individuals like Lindbergh, Byrd and AMERICA’S G-MEN.

Since bridge was banned by millions of conservative American families Parker saw the need for a substitute card game that would not be associated with gambling. PIT and FLINCH became best-selling card games in the early 1900s and in 1906 Parker Brothers brought out ROOK. It was not an immediate success but by 1913 was the largest selling game in the country. Some 55 million decks have been sold.

Always searching for a pleasurable pastime, Parker Brothers decided to apply a puzzle technique to pictures. The first jigsaw puzzle used reproductions of paintings by the masters laminated onto wood. Demand for puzzles was so overwhelming production of games had to be curtailed in the Salem plant until a special building could be outfitted.

The Depression ravaged many businesses, especially a games company. In 1934, at the height of hard times, Charles B. Darrow of Germantown, Pennsylvania arrived at Salem with a new game. After an initial play-test by company executives the game was unanimously turned town. Not only that, Parker identified 52 fundamental playing errors, not the least of which was that a game of MONOPOLY couldn’t be completed in 45 minutes - Parker’s idea of a family’s attention span.

Darrow went home and started selling his game on his own. Reports of brisk sales led Parker Brothers to reconsider and they purchased the rights in 1935. MONOPOLY was the biggest thing that had ever hit Parker Brothers. More than 20,000 sets a week were leaving the plant. At Christmastime so many orders poured in that they were stuffed in huge laundry baskets and stacked in hallways.

Still, George Parker considered MONOPOLY a fad. On December 19, 1936 he personally issued orders to cease production of the game in anticipation of a sales slump before inventories grew too large. But it was only the beginning of MONOPOLY’s popularity, not the end. The greatest board game of all is was to eventually be printed in 23 languages.

In 1953 Parker died at the age of 86. His company was poised to introduce three of its most successful board games: CLUE, RISK and CAREERS. Chances are he still couldn’t believe that he had been able to spend his whole life playing games.

Milton Bradley

And the man behind the brand is...
Milton Bradley

Listen to the Podcast http://oscarmeyerpodcast.podbus.com/Milton%20Bradley.mp3

Life isn't like it used to be. The game that is. When Milton Bradley first introduced the "Checkered Game of Life" it had as its theme high ideals of morality and happy old age. The modern version of "Life", introduced on the 100th anniversary of the game, stresses personal achievement and monetary success. Milton Bradley would not be pleased.

Bradley was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts and showed an early talent for math and science. In 1854, with savings of about $250 he enrolled in Lawrence Scientific School at Cambridge. Living at home and making the arduous commute was the only way he could afford to stay in school. His parents, however, moved to Hartford, Connecticut in 1856 and Bradley had to abandon his studies.

If that wasn't bad enough he couldn't find satisfactory work in Hartford and had to travel up the river to Springfield, Massachusetts where he caught on as a draftsman for the Wason Locomotive Car Works. Bradley became fascinated with lithography but at the time the only press in the country was in Boston. Somehow that press became available in Providence and Bradley went there and bought it.

He stayed in Providence long enough to learn how to operate the press and on January 31, 1860 he brought it back to Springfield. His first commission was a book of designs for a local monument maker.

Returning Springfield men from the 1860 Republican national convention suggested that Bradley produce and sell photographs of the parties' impressive new candidate - a fellow by the name of Lincoln. He readily agreed and hastily produced hundreds of thousands of copies of Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln won the election but Bradley would not cash in on the speculation. His photos had portrayed a clean-shaven Lincoln. When Lincoln grew a beard before going to Washington Bradley's portraits were nearly unrecognizable. He destroyed his large inventory of lithographs.

The Civil War delivered a further blow to Bradley's young company. Business ground to a halt and the press stood idle as bankruptcy loomed. But an inventor appeared with a new game he called "The Checkered Game of Life." Bradley bought the game and printed 45,000 copies of "Life" in the first year. By 1868 Milton Bradley was the leading manufacturer of games in America.

In 1869 Bradley attended a lecture by Elizabeth Peabody, founder of the Kindergarten movement in the country. He became an enthusiastic proponent, printing teaching aids at a loss for many years before making a profit. But Bradley, who founded his company with the goal of providing America's children a gift of happiness and pleasant instruction, was more interested in education than money.

The good works started by Bradley formed the basis of Milton Bradley's lucrative educational game business in future years, just like the shifting priorities of the game of "Life" indicate.


And the man behind the brand is...
Joshua Lionel Cohen

Joshua Lionel Cohen was not much impressed with store displays as he window-shopped on the streets of New York City in 1901. What was needed, he thought, was some sort of eye-appealing action display. He went home to fashion a toy train to pull the merchandise around the store window.

Cohen created an unlikely looking gondola car with a small fan motor under the car. He attached a dry cell battery directly to the track and there was no way to regulate the speed. He called his new train car the "Electric Express" and sold it to a store owner for $4.

The next day Cohen had to make another train car. It seems people were buying the advertisement, not the goods. Soon Cohen was spending long hours in a cramped third floor loft with his new electric toy train business. He named his new company the Lionel Manufacturing Company, after his middle name. "I had to name it something," Cohen would shrug later.

The first toy electric train was adapted in 1835 by a struggling New York blacksmith as a demonstration of how electricity could be used for America's new railroads. He couldn't sell the concept and the first electric trolley wouldn't operate for another 50 years.

Through the 1800s toy trains were pull toys, propelled by springs or fueled by burning alcohol. By 1877, when Joshua Cohen was born the eighth of nine children to an immigrant cap-maker, steam engines were popular.

Cohen was not studious but became fascinated with electricity and the storage of power. He dropped out of the City College of New York and Columbia University to take an apprentice position assembling battery lamps. In 1899 Cohen received his first patent for a device igniting a photographer's flash, called a "Flash Lamp."

The United States Navy was interested in Cohen's invention, but not to take photographs. They gave Cohen an order for 24,000 devices as detonators for mines. With the Navy order filled Cohen had a stake for his own business. He had a company but no product.

Cohen experimented with a flashlight and an electric fan but settled on his electric trains. Carlisle & Finch in Cincinnati had been selling electric trains since 1896 and Cohen quickly realized he needed more excitement from his product than a gondola. He introduced a trolley car called "City Hall Park."

The first Lionel train set, made entirely of metal, included 30 feet of track. "Every feature is carried out to the minutest detail," boasted Cohen's ads. The set sold for $7 with a primitive battery at a time when the average worker's salary was $9.42 and a Kodak camera sold for $1. The expensive electric train became a special toy for special occasions like Christmas and birthdays.

From the beginning Cohen realized the importance of accessories and his first 16-page catalog in 1902 emphasized suspension bridges and tunnels as well as trains. In 1903 the first Lionel locomotive was available. In 1906 Cohen completely revamped the Lionel line by adding a trademark third rail to carry the electric current like real city railroads.

The toy train business grew increasingly competitive, especially with foreign manufacturers, and Cohen, who changed his name to "Cowen" in 1910, hammered away relentlessly at his competitors, boasting of Lionel quality in ads. Cowen's "wish book" catalogs fascinated children and sales climbed over two million dollars by the 1920s. In the peak years of the 1950s the Lionel catalog would be one of the most widely distributed catalog in America, behind only general merchandise retailers Sears and Montgomery Ward.

Lionel trains were hard hit by the Depression. Cowen essentially had a one product company and an expensive one at that. He introduced an electric range for girls but it was overdesigned and sold for $29.50, more than a teacher made in a week, and few were sold. Cowen became embroiled in a bank scandal involving his brother-in-law damaging his ability to borrow money and Cowen was forced to put Lionel Manufacturing into receivership in 1934.

The company was saved by new streamlined trains and the introduction of a train whistle that faded away like the real thing in 1935. Lionel created a handcar with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse which became their biggest seller. During World War II Lionel Manufacturing converted over totally to military production but in peacetime the company was ideally positioned to become an integral part of post-war culture.

In 1948 Lionel brought out the Santa Fe diesel. The sleek silver, red and yellow engine became Lionel's all-time best seller, so popular that Cowen was able to get railroads to pay for using their name. In 1952, the company's 50th anniversary, Lionel was producing 622,209 engines and 2,460, 760 cars. All real-life railroads combined had 43,000 engines and 1,800,000 cars.

The glory years lasted less than a decade. By 1958 airplanes were carrying more passengers than railroads for the first time. The romance of the train was ending and little boys grew up wanting to be pilots, not engineers. In the toy business a new half-sized toy train, HO scale, was sweeping the market. Model race cars were taking the place of trains under Christmas trees.

Cowen, who was forced to take the company public in the bleak years of the Depression, was increasingly disenchanted with Lionel management. Electric cattle guards and stereo cameras were produced with disastrous results. An attempt to attract girls with a completely fake pink train set was even worse. In 1959 Cowen sold his shares in Lionel to his great-nephew Roy Cohn for $825,000, causing his son to lose control of the company.

Cowen enjoyed golf and tennis but his passion was always trains. Each year he and his wife took a train trip to the west coast and sailed to Hawaii for 8-10 weeks before returning home by rail. But as he retired to Florida both Cowen and his former company quickly disassociated themselves from each other. The first economy move of the new management group was to sell Cowen's prized collection of antique Lionel trains he kept in the company showroom.

When Cowen died in 1965 no mention of his passing was made at Lionel's next board meeting. For his part, Cowen's headstone read "Joshua L. Cohen", making no mention of the Lionel name which stirred dreams of boys the world over.

Hillerich & Bradsby

And the men behind the brand are...
Bud Hillerich and Frank Bradsby

It seems that Pete Browning, “The Gladiator,” was in a slump. The celebrated hard-hitting batsman for the Louisville Colonels went in search of a new bat. He stopped by the small woodworking shop of J.F. Hillerich, then noted for its wooden butter churns.

Hillerich’s teenage son Bud turned a piece of white ash while Browning tested it every few turns until just right. Browning went 3-3 the next day and publicly gave credit to the bat. Baseball players are a superstitious lot and after the game the rest of the Louisville team showed up at the Hillerich shop for a bat.

it was 1884. Until that time players bought bats already formed by woodturners or tried to carve their own. Hillerich’s first custom-made bats became all the rage. He called them “Louisville Sluggers” after the power-hitting Browning. Soon Hillerich was turning out only baseball bats, and the wooden churns that had been the shop specialty were forgotten.

As batters became more exacting Hillerich began burning each player’s name into his bat. Famous 19th century stars like Anson and Keeler and Wagner used Sluggers. Hugh Duffy hit .438 in 894 with a Slugger, the highest average of all time. The early greats were followed by Cobb, Hornsby, Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio. More Sluggers were made for Babe Ruth than anyone else. The Bambino favored gargantuan pieces of lumber weighing up to 54 ounces, 50 % heavier than most bats.

Hillerich sold bats directly to the players personally, recording their required specifications on cards still retained by the company. Behind the baseball scene every player knew Bud Hillerich. In 1910 Frank Bradsby joined the company to expand sales outside major league baseball. Everyone wanted to use the same bats as the big league stars and by the time Bradsby died in 1937 the company wa turning out two million bats a year.

The tiny woodworking shop grew into a ten-acre timber yard. Trainloads of white ash rounds, the only wood used for major league bats, were stacked to allow air to season and dry the wood. Over 5,000,000 sticks of forty-inch ash would always be on hand. Each piece was carefully graded before turning on lathes, with the very best ash reserved for the major leaguers.

When Hillerich died in 1946 at the age of 80 the “Louisville Slugger” trademark had been burned on over 100,000,000 baseball bats and Pete Browning, the original Louisville slugger, was forgotten.


And the man behind the brand is...
Howard Head

Howard Head, the son of a Philadelphia dentist, grew up wanting to be a writer like his older sister, a novelist. To get through Harvard, however, he had to switch his studies from English to engineering in his third year. Undaunted, after graduating with honors in 1936 Head took a scriptwriting job for the old March of Time newsreels. He was fired after nine months because he did no writing.

By 1939 Head’s writing career had not progressed beyond being a $20-a-week copyboy at the old Philadelphia Public Record. Bewildered as to his future he actually took an aptitude test at the Stevens Institute. Head’s test scores for creative writing were the lowest ever tested. On the other hand his score in structural visualization was the highest ever.

Head went to work as a riveter for the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft Company in Baltimore. Within a year he was promoted to the engineering department and spent World War II designing improvements for attack bombers and flying boats. There were no more silly thoughts of writing.

After the war Head went skiing for the first time. “I was humiliated and disgusted by how badly I skied,” he would recall. Characteristically he blamed such dismal failure on the clumsy hickory skis of the day. Back in Baltimore he set up a shop on the second floor of a converted stable near his one-room basement apartment.

Head sought to create a new metal ski of lightweight aluminum sandwiched around a center of honeycombed plastic. Head tinkered and experimented for months until he had produced his first six pairs of skis. He raced north to Stowe, Vermont to have the skis tested by pros. To test flexibility and strength the skis were stuck into the snow and flexed. One by one, each ski broke.

Not only would Head not give up, he resigned from Martin the day after New Year’s 1948 and took $6000 in poker winnings to go into the ski business full time. Three years and 40 design versions would pass before Head had a ski that achieved what Head sought: a stronger, livelier ski that was resistant to twisting.

The skis turned so much easier than traditional wooden skis they were dubbed “cheaters.” By the end of the 1950s some 200,000 Head skis were in use. In the next decade Head realized that he was not cut in the mold of manager of a $25 million-a-year company and in 1969 he sold Head Ski Company to AMF for $16,000,000. At 55 Head retired.

Like many retirees Howard Head took up tennis. As with skiing, he was horrible. After $5000 worth of lessons had done little to remedy the situation one of his frustrated instructors suggested Head get a ball machine to practice with. Head ordered a ball machine from a new company in New Jersey named Prince.

Head found the ball machine to be of ingenious design but filled with flaws. He offered a few design suggestions and wound up with 25% of the company and the titles of chief design engineer and chairman of the board. The Prince ball machine soon dominated the market. Head now had a dandy ball machine but his tennis game was still lousy.

He turned to the instrument of his frustration: the racket. He dabbled for two years before he began to enlarge the racket. Even Head was unaware of all the benefits he was reaping. Yes, the racket was more resistant to twisting on impact but by making the racket face wider Head also had to make it longer. And those three added inches in the throat of the racket was where he “struck gold.”

The seemingly innocuous three inches of stringing in the throat not only gave players a “super sweet spot” with more power and control but it was the basis by which Head was able to patent his racket design. Patent No. 3,999,756 was granted in 1976. The Prince Graphite racket became so successful some tennis shops sold nothing but Head rackets. The former, standard size tennis racket has gone the way of tennis trousers and long skirts.

Howard Head had revolutionized two sports simply because he wanted to get better. It was not a script he could have written.


And the men behind the brand are...
Herman Fisher and Irving Price

For millions of Americans during the Depression toys were the most frivolous of luxuries. But Herman Guy Fisher, Irving Lanouette Price and Helen Schelle were determined to market their line of sturdy toys crafted from New York Ponderosa pine. They sold enough toys to stay in business until 1938 when Fisher-Price introduced Snoopy Sniffer at the Toy Fair. Snoopy was a loose-jointed, floppy-eared pull toy who woofed when you pulled his wagging spring tail.
Snoopy Sniffer was an instant hit that bred a toy empire in a small upstate New York town.

Irving Price had come to East Aurora, New York when he retired from his position as Eastern District Manager for Woolworth's at the age of 36. Price became involved in community work, serving on the school board. In 1928 he assumed the responsibility of attracting new industries to town.

In his search he met Herman Fisher, a Penn State graduate who had worked his way through school peddling Fuller brushes. After graduation Fisher had worked in sales promotion and advertising for several toy and game companies and was now ready to start his own toy company. A third partner was Helen Schelle, who operated a Penny Walker Toy Shop in Binghamton.

The three came together to establish the Fisher-Price Toy Company in 1930. They raised $71,600 from local businessmen and their own workers to convert an old frame and concrete house into a factory. Fisher had a clear idea of the toys he would make. He wanted to make children "toys that played with them." Fisher-Price toys would have intrinsic play values, strong construction and action.

Fisher, Price and Schelle called their first brochure "Sixteen Hopefuls." All the toys were constructed of Ponderosa pine blocks with color lithographs and they all did something comical. Ducks quacked, tails wagged, and beaks moved.

In 1936 Fisher-Price brought out their first "educational" toys, a line of blocks. The company gained a reputation for "good toys" - toys that were fun, safe and educational. With the success of Snoopy Sniffer Fisher-Price became the leading toy manufacturer in America. They were the first to license Disney characters for their toys. By the late 1930s Fisher-Price was producing over two million toys a year.

During World War II the toys became ship fenders and medical chests but Fisher-Price was ideally positioned for the post-war suburban baby boom.
In 1949 plastic was substituted for pine blocks to keep up with demand.
In the 1960s Fisher-Price introduced play people as an integral part of the toy increasing the play value. They built a nursery school and watched kids play. Their observations led Fisher-Price to become the largest maker of pre-school toys in America.

When Price retired in 1965 at the age of 81 revenues that were $116,000 in 1932 had mushroomed to $26,000,000. Four years later Fisher sold the company to Quaker Oats for $50,000,000. He was 71 years old. In the next twenty years the toy market exploded with high-tech toys, monsters, video games and war toys. But Fisher-Price stayed true to Fisher's philosophy of "good toys" for children. In 1990 Fisher-Price educational toys with built-in play values were producing nearly $400,000,000 in sales.


And the man behind the brand is...
Donald Duncan

The yo-yo has been known for at least 2,500 years: an Ancient Greek bowl dating to 450 B.C. depicts a boy playing with a disk on the end of a string. Reaching Europe the toy was a popular entertainment in the imperial courts of Europe and it is said that Napoleon’s soldiers passed the time between battles practicing with yo-yos. But the American yo-yo was born not in tony parlors of Europe but the jungles of the Philippines.

Although it is most likely the yo-yo reached the Philippines by way of China, some legends maintain that Filipino hunters developed the yo-yo as a hunting weapon, throwing a stone and retrieving it with an attached throng. However, it arrived in the Philippines by the 19th century the yo-yo was ingrained in the lives of Filipino children - with a twist. Literally. Instead of a single-string European design which returned immediately the Philippine yo-yo’s string was looped around the axle with the two branches of the loop twisted tightly together. Thus the Philippine yo-yo hesitated a few seconds before returning, thus enabling skilled handlers to develop a repetoire of tricks.

It was this yo-yo, the name derives from the Philippine Tagalog language to describe the action and sound of the toy, that Donald F. Duncan saw in the late 1920s. As Filipinos made their way to the United States in the early 20th century they toy began appearing in Philippine neighborhoods. Pedro Flores, a Filipino hotel worker registered his “Flores Yo-Yo” with the U.S. Patent Office about the time Duncan learned of the toy.

Envisioning a big-selling toy Duncan manufactured his first yo-yo in 1929 but his patent application was turned down as an infringement on the Flores Yo-Yo. Undeterred, Duncan bought Flores’ rights and marketed the first Genuine Duncan Yo-Yo in 1932. Duncan single-handedly made the yo-yo a national craze. He hired groups of Filipino men to demonstrate the yo-yo and sent them on tours of the United States to promote the Duncan Yo-Yo. The arrival of a Duncan troupe and their routines of gravity-defying tricks became an annual rite of spring in America.

When the novelty of the yo-yo faded by World War II Duncan was able to re-vitalize the toy by taking his demonstrations to television. The maple and ash yo-yos gave way to the all-time best-selling plastic Duncan Imperial in the late 1950s and the yo-yo boom was bigger than ever. But Duncan’s greatest ploy was in securing the rights to the term “yo-yo” itself. It was not until 1965 that the courts ruled that the toy was a yo-yo, not a Duncan yo-yo. But by that time Duncan was selling about nine of every ten yo-yos in America, a figure it still approaches today.


And the man behind the brand is...
George Westinghouse

In the first 70 years of railroading there were 955 patents for brakes. Trains length and engine speed were both dependent on reliable brakes. The patent that finally produced the ideal train brake belonged to a 23-year old inventor named George Westinghouse.

Westinghouse patented a rotary steam engine at the age of 19 and spent three years developing a compressed air brake that vastly improved the safety of train travel. Faster trains pulling larger loads translated into bigger profits for the railroad barons. The Westinghouse Air Brake Company began generating enormous revenue.

Between the years 1880 and 1890 Westinghouse received 134 patents, almost one very 27 days. He took out 20 additional patents to improve his railroad brake. He turned his attention to railroad yards and formed the Union Switch & Signal Company to supply the first electrically controlled railroad signals.

Next Westinghouse pioneered the delivery of electricity over great distances. Thomas Edison had harnessed electricity but he was able to transmit his direct current only two miles. In 1885 The Westinghouse Electric Company introduced alternating current which sent electricity over long distances through intermittent transformers.

Edison and Westinghouse locked in the "Battle of the Currents." Westinghouse had by far the superior product; Edison's only advantage was safety since he operated at lower voltages. Victory for Westinghouse was sealed when he won the bid to provide electricity for the Columbian Exposition in 1893. Ultimately 95% of all electricity customers would use alternating current.

But it was a hollow victory. Edison, operating with J.P. Morgan, gained the ability to produce both currents and Westinghouse needed to pay steep litigation fees. The two men agreed on co-patents and Westinghouse Electric fell behind and never recovered in its battle with Edison's General Electric. Westinghouse would never be closer than a distant second to GE in electrical consumer appliances. Westinghouse Electric went into bankruptcy for a brief period and Westinghouse retired in 1911.

But Westinghouse's other companies, including the air brake, were still pumping out profits. Westinghouse was one of the largest employers in the world with 50,000 people on his payrolls. He was a leader in worker-relations and originated half-Saturday holidays back in 1871.


And the man behind the brand is...
Charles Tandy

During World War II Charles Tandy was stationed in Hawaii. He noticed that huge amounts of leathercraft were being used in base hospital and recreation centers. He wrote a letter home to his father who was in the leather business selling sole leather and other shoe repair supplies suggesting this might be a good market for leather.

Charles Tandy returned home in 1950 and opened two retail stores devoted exclusively to leathercraft., one in El Paso and the other in San Antonio. He realized a 100% return on his investment with the help of mail order sales - an 8-page catalog to inquiries from a 2-inch ad in Popular Science.

Dave Tandy and his pal Norton Hinckley had formed the Hinckley-Tandy Leather Company back in the 1920s to supply shoe dealers in Fort Worth, Texas. Now Hinckley was not impressed one bit with this leathercraft. The men worked out an agreement where they would split the partnership and Hinckley would retain the shoe business and leave the leather purse and moccasin kits to the Tandys.

They targeted the school, hospital and armed forces markets. Leathercraft was the principal recreation during the nuclear submarine US Triton's round-the-world underwater-sea voyage. Supported by direct mail the company expanded to 150 stores through the 1950s.

In 1960 Charles Tandy became president of the Tandy Corporation. They expanded into other do-it-yourself hobbies, opening the Tandy Mart in Fort Worth in 1961. The Tandy mart features 28 hobby-related shops.

The organization acquired similar businesses: a tannery, a saddle-making firm and then bought Cost Plus (now Pier I imports). In 1963 Tandy took over a chain of nine failing Boston electronics stores specializing in selling equipment to ham radio hobbyists. They applied principles of selling leathercraft to electronics and when Dave Tandy died in 1966 at the age of 67 Radio Shack was the fastest growing chain in America.

RJ Reynolds

And the man behind the brand is...
Richard Reynolds

Richard Joshua Reynolds grew up in a tobacco family. His father grew tobacco and sold it in plugs from his Rock Spring Plantation in southwestern Virginia. Richard was nearsighted and read so slowly his family at first didn't think he was bright. He was schooled in Baltimore and returned to manage the family factory.

Reynolds became convinced his future in tobacco lay elsewhere. He left and settled in Winston, North Carolina in 1874 at the age of 24. Winston was a dusty town of 1400 but it did have two things to recommend it: it was in the center of the new flue-cured leaf country that made the best chewing tobacco and a newly built railroad line split the town.

Reynolds bought a tiny spec of land by the railroad tracks and built a two-story factory that couldn't hold a tennis court. He lived on the second floor of "The Little Red Factory" and turned out 150,000 pounds of tobacco the first year in the plant down below.

In 1890 the RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company was incorporated. Reynolds, a 6'2" bachelor with intense dark hair and eyes, was a leading citizen of Winston. He built roads, helped establish a bank and served as a city official. He had planned to retire when he made $100,000.

Now he set out to build what he called "THE tobacco factory of the South." Reynolds was already a constant innovator in the tobacco industry. He used saccharin to sweeten the leaf (although he called it "a naturally sweet leaf grown in Winston"), aged his leaf before manufacture rather than in the plug and invested heavily in an aggressive sales force and new promotion techniques. Reynolds distributed advertising calendars with pretty girls - and his tobacco products.

By 1900 Reynolds had 25% of the nation's plug market but was looking for a new product. He blended a tobacco using Kentucky burley and packaged it in 5¢ cloths and 2-ounce tins. RJ Reynolds' nephew Richard named the new tobacco after the Prince of Wales since Americans held English royalty in high esteem. Prince Albert became wildly popular. Production in the first four years increased from 250,000 pounds to 14,000,000 pounds.

Reynolds began national advertising in 1910 touting Prince Albert as the "Nation's Joy Smoke." Sales of pipes tripled. Reynolds now made up his mind to blend a packaged cigarette the public also could not resist. In those days most cigarette smokers rolled their own and Reynolds was not going to leave anything to chance in his product launch.

He introduced four brands simultaneously to test public reaction. All names were chosen to combine simplicity and pictorial possibilities: Reyno, Red Kamel, Osman, and Camel. The first Camel picture showed a pathetic one-humped beast with a drooping neck. Was it even a camel?

Reynolds executives weren't sure. They went to a circus and lined up two camels to be photographed, a one-humped dromedary and a two-humped animal. Old Joe, the dromedary was most uncooperative. The trainer smacked him on the snout and Old Joe raised his tail, threw back his ears, and closed his eyes as the photographer snapped his shot. Old Joe became the most famous camel in the world.

The impact of Camel was astounding. Quickly 1/2 of all cigarettes smoked in the United States were Camels. RJ Reynolds died in 1918 at the age of 68 as his plants were turning out 18 billion Camels a year.