Cyrus Hall McCormick(1809-1884)
Cyrus McCormick, an inventor born in Virginia, is inducted for his invention of a mechanical reaper which was arguably the most significant agricultural machine of his lifetime.
McCormick had little formal education as he tinkered with his first inventions in a plantation blacksmith shop. There he invented a water-powered hemp brake and a hillside plow, the latter of which he patented in 1831.
In 1804 at the age of twenty-five, McCormick patented a mechanical reaper, a brilliant invention that enabled farmers to greatly increase harvest capability and dramatically increase earning potentials. By the time he was middle-aged, his fame had spread worldwide and the demand for McCormick mechanical reapers led to the development of the first large-scale farm machinery manufacturer in the nation.
In 1847, McCormick established his main plant in Chicago to be nearer to the primary grain producing areas of the Plains. By 1860, the plant was manufacturing four thousand mechanical reapers a year. Local McCormick salesmen demonstrated sample machines throughout the country and stocked spare parts for McCormick Reaper owners. McCormick built a worldwide empire of farm equipment dealers and manufacturing plants.
McCormick innovated many other enduring business practices including written guarantees, use and care instructions, and literature in foreign languages to help immigrant farmers.