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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.
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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(in the NBC Tower).