mechanical reaper

who is the inventor

McCormick was born on a farm in Rockbridge County, Virginia. As a youth, he experimented with various tools in the hope of designing equipment that would simplify farmers' work. He also observed his father's unsuccessful efforts to construct a mechanical reaper. In 1831, Cyrus built his first reaper. He tested the device on wheat and oats and continued to make adjustments before patenting it in 1834. McCormick finally offered his reaper for sale in Virginia in 1840.

what is the pursoe of the invetiom?

Before his invention, farmers harvested with cradle scythes and a skilled worker could harvest at most 2 or 3 acres (0.8 to 1.2 hectares) per day.

why was there a need for this invetion ?

The reaper embodied the principles essential to all subsequent grain-cutting machines.

For farmers in the early 19th century, harvesting required a large number of labourers, and, if they could be found, the cost of hiring them was high. When McCormick’s reaper was tested on a neighbour’s farm in 1831, it offered the hope that the yield of the farmer’s fields would soon not be limited to the amount of labour available. The machine had defects, not the least of which was a clatter so loud that slaves were required to walk alongside to calm the frightened horses.


Reuben Gold Thwaites, Cyrus Hall McCormick and the Reaper (1909); Herbert N. Casson, Cyrus Hall McCormick: His Life and Work (1909, reprinted 1971); Cyrus McCormick, The Century of the Reaper (1931, reprinted 1972).

why is this invetion imortant in histroy?

Pockets stuffed with order blanks, McCormick rode over the plains selling his reaper to farmers and would-be farmers. To increase sales, he used innovations such as mass production, advertising, public demonstration, warranty of product, and extension of credit to his customers. Soon the factory expanded, and the company had a traveling sales force. By 1850 the McCormick reaper was known in every part of the United States, and at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London it was introduced to European farmers. Although mocked by The Times of London as “a cross between an Astley Chariot, a wheelbarrow, and a flying machine,” the reaper took the Grand Prize. In 1855 it won the Grand Medal of Honour at the Paris International Exposition. There followed a long series of prize honours and awards that made the McCormick reaper known to farmers throughout the world.

By 1856 McCormick was selling more than 4,000 machines a year. In the 1858 account of his marriage to Nancy (Nettie) Fowler, the Chicago Daily Press referred to him as the “massive Thor of industry.” Business did not absorb all of his energy, however. He became active in the Democratic Party and in the Presbyterian church, establishing the McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.

In 1871 the Chicago fire gutted his factory. Then—more than 60 years old, his fortune long since made—he rebuilt. When he died, his business was still growing. In 1902 the McCormick Harvesting Company joined with other companies to form International Harvester Company, with McCormick’s son, Cyrus, Jr., as its first president.