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Fascinating facts about Cyrus McCormick inventor of the Reaper in 1831. Cyrus McCormick
The reaper was a horse drawn farm implement invented by Cyrus Hall McCormick in 1831 to cut small grain crops. The mechanical reaper replaced the manual cutting of the crop with scythes and sickles. Developed to cut down wheat more quickly and more efficiently.
Inventor: Cyrus Hall McCormick
Cyrus McCormick image courtesy
Criteria; First to patent. Entrepreneur
Birth: Feb 15 1809 in Rockbridge County, Virginia
Death: May 13 1884
Nationality: American
Invention: Mechanical Reaper in 1831.
1831 McCormick reaper courtesy
Function: noun / reap-er
Definition: A horse drawn mechanical machine used for harvesting grain or other small crops. Designed to cut down wheat much more quickly and more efficiently.
Patent: X8277 (US) Patent issued June 21, 1834
1824 At the age of 15, he invented a lightweight cradle for carting harvested grain
1831 Cyrus improves the reaper designed by his father Robert McCormick
1834 Patent issued to Cyrus McCormick as the inventor of the mechanical reaper
1847 a factory is constructed in Chicago to produce 500 reapers for the 1848 harvest
1859 Brothers Leander and William each receive one-fourth of the Cyrus McCormick & Brothers Co.
1884 the “McCormick Harvesting Machine Co” sold 54,841 machines
1902 McCormick Harvesting Machine Co. and others join to form International Harvester Company
1915 International Harvester markets its first combined harvester thresher “combine”.
1985 Harvester' s farm business is purchased placed under the control of “Tenneco’s” Case division.
1985 The remainder of International Harvester reorganized; its new name is Navistar International
CAPS: McCormick, Curus McCormick, Reaper, ARY, reaper, mechnical reaper, mccormick reaper, SIP, history, Invention, facts, inventor of, history of, who invented, invention of, fascinating facts.


Invention of the Reaper    from The Great Idea Finder
Agricultural History   from The Great Idea Finder

1000 Inventions & Discoveries
by Roger Bridgman / Hardcover: 256 pages / Dorling Kindersley Publishing; (2002)
Fascinating stories and vivid photographs and illustrations tell the tales of the developments in technology and natural science that have shaped our world. Profiles of the famous (and not-so-famous) men and women who have had "Eureka!" moments, a running timeline which puts the inventions and discoveries in historical context.
The History of Science and Technology
by Bryan Bunch, Alexander Hellemans / Hardcover: 768 pages / Houghton Mifflin Company; (2004)
Highly browsable yet richly detailed, expertly researched and indexed, The History of Science and Technology is the perfect desktop reference for both the science novice and the technologically advanced reader alike.

Vintage International Harvester Tractors
by Ralph W. Sanders / Paperback: 160 pages /Voyageur Press (MN) (April 1, 2000)
In this tribute, abundant illustrations accompany the text in celebration of the Farmall and other International Harvester tractors.: The Ultimate Tribute to International Harvester, Farmall, and McCormick-Deering Tractors
Technology in America - 2nd Edition: A History of Individuals and Ideas
by Carroll W. Pursell (Editor) / Paperback: 331 pages / The MIT Press; 2nd edition (April 12, 1990)
The succinct, nontechnical essays in Technology in America cover the history of American invention from Thomas Jefferson's founding of the Patent Office to Robert Goddards space-age rockets.
150 Years Of International Harvester: Classic American Tractors
by C.H. Wendel / Paperback: 416 pages / Krause Publications (August 5, 2004)
Now readers can explore the history of International Harvester and the tractors they produced, all in this comprehensive reference! This incredible photo-encyclopedia provides comprehensive  coverage of one of the most famous names in agricultural manufacturing.
The McCormick Reaper Legend (Limited availability)
by Norbert Lyons / Unknown Binding: 217 pages / Exposition Press; [1st ed.] edition (1955)
The true story of a great invention

Farming Technology
DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / History Channel / Less than $25.00
It is the industry that feeds the world, an industry so efficient that, in America at least, it is possible never to think about it. But behind your fully-stocked local market stands an extraordinarily sophisticated network that has revolutionized every step from seed to shelf.
DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / History Channel / 73189 / Less than $25.00
Cutting, digging, picking, stripping, shaking and raking--whatever the crop, there's a custom machine to harvest it. It all began with hand picking, but today it's often one man and one machine harvesting hundreds of acres in a matter of hours.

McCormick Company Tineline
Extensive chrology of the evolution of the McCormick brand from 1809 to the present.

Wisconsin Historical Society Collection
The McCormick-International Harvester Company Collection contains documents, publications, photographs and films related to Cyrus Hall McCormick and the International Harvester Company. The collection includes over twelve million pages or items dating from 1753 to 1985
Cyrus Hall McCormick
What made the reaper a success was the demonstrations and its good quality. Because McCormick was concerned with quality, he was an innovator. Even today, more than 160 years later, farming machinery for cutting wheat is similar to what he invented back in the 1830s. Article by Patricsa Wong, Mark Sheridan Academy, Chicago for the Northern Illinois University Libraries
The McCormick Family and their Mechanical Reaper
Though it has become common knowledge that Cyrus H. McCormick invented and manufactured the reaper, it may have actually been his father's genius as a simple inventor that led to the family's riches and renown. Presented by the
University of Virginia Department of Astronomy.
McCormick Theological Seminary
Cyrus H. McCormick, industrialist and zealous Presbyterian layman, played a key role in moving the Seminary to his city. From 1859 until well into the twentieth century, he, his wife Nettie, and their heirs were to be the school’s financial mainstay, providing buildings, endowing professorships, and paying the annual operating deficit. Shortly after McCormick’s death in 1884, the school was renamed McCormick Theological Seminary.
Grain Harvesting History
Information obtained from McCormick Reaper Centennial Source Material (International Harvester Company: Chicago) 1931. Numerous photos of the reaper evolution.
A Distinguished Virginian who has Contributed to World Progress
McCormick may well be termed a pioneer in what today is known as installment selling. He had faith in his product. He was willing to sell on a small cash payment. He felt absolutely confident that the product sold would, as a result of its merits, yield a return that would provide for the future payments. A speech made by the Honorable E. Lee Trinkle, Former Governor of Virginia in 1931.

Official Web site for the company that owns McCormick's reaper.

Invention Dimension - Inventor of the Week
Celebrates inventor/innovator role models through outreach activities and annual awards to inspire a new generation of American scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs.

McCormick used seven fundamental principles in the reaper he invented. A divider separated the wheat so it could be cut. The reel pushed the wheat towards the knife and then pushed the cut wheat onto the platform. A straight reciprocating knife cut the wheat. Fingers held the wheat while it was cut. The platform held the cut wheat. The main wheel and gears drove all the moving parts of the reaper. The front-side draft traction provided the reaper a firm grip on the ground.


  • In 1831, 90% of the US population was involved in farming; today, only 2% of the population produces more food than the country can consume.
  • In June, 1834  Cyrus had been granted a patent for a cast and wrought iron plough. “The Patent Hill Side Plow” enjoyed a good reputation in the valley of Virginia at the time.
  • Cyrus McCormick's father invented numerous labor-saving devices for agricultural use, but after repeated efforts, had failed in his attempts to construct a successful grain cutting and binding machine.
  • The McComick company was the fist manufacturer to offer a written warranty.
  • Cyrus McCormick edited the Chicago Times until 1861, when he sold the paper to Wilbur F. Storey.
  • Cyrus McCormick, is often refered to as the "Father of Modern Agriculture".
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Reference Sources in BOLD Type. This page revised April 23, 2007.
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