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Singer History

In 2001 Singer celebrated the 150th Anniversary of Isaac Singer’s patent on the first practical sewing machine. This anniversary marked the official beginning of Singer as a company and its leadership in the industry from the start, a great accomplishment. Singer’s leadership has remained to this day due to our continued commitment to quality, reliability, innovation and service.

Listed below are the important milestones in the sewing industry and Singer’s more than 150 years of innovation.

1811
Issac Merritt Singer was born in Schaghiticoke, New York.

1850
Orson C. Phelps of Boston was manufacturing sewing machines under license from John A. Lerow. The Lerow and Blodgett machine was not very practical. The circular movement of the shuttle took a twist out of the thread at every revolution.

Isaac Merritt Singer, after examining the machine, noted "instead of the shuttle going around in a circle, I would have it move to and fro in a straight line. In place of the needle bar pushing a curved needle horizontally, I would have a straight needle and make it work up and down."

After 11 days and forty dollars in cost, Singer completed his invention: the world’s first practical sewing machine. This machine had a straight eye-pointed needle and transverse shuttle, an overhanging arm, a table to support the cloth, a presser foot to hold the material against the upward stroke of the needle, and a roughened feed wheel extending through a slot in the table. Motion was communicated to the needle arm and shuttle by means of gears.

Singer also conceived the idea of using a treadle similar to that of a spinning wheel; all other machines at the time used a hand crank to generate power.

1851
Isaac Merritt Singer formed I.M. Singer & Company with New York lawyer Edward C. Clark, following Singer’s first lockstitch sewing machine patent. The Singer Sewing Machine is offered for sale all over the United States. Within two years Singer is the leading manufacturer and marketer of sewing machines in the United States.

1852
Singer patented a tension device.

1853
I. M. Singer & Co. sets-up corporate offices and a manufacturing facility in New York City. Company is renamed Singer Manufacturing Company.

The first Singer sewing machines, manufactured in New York, sell for $100 each.

1855
Singer becomes the world’s largest sewing company. Singer begins overseas expansion, starting in Paris, France, making Singer the world’s first international company.

A Singer sewing machine was awarded a first prize at the World’s Fair in Paris.

1856
Edward Clark originated the hire-purchase plan, the prototype for all installment selling or time payment purchases. As a result, individuals with even meager income could own a Singer sewing machine. Even better, they could increase their productivity, earn more money and improve their position in life.

The "Turtleback" sewing machine was introduced.

Singer patented a ruffler, tucker and binder.

Branch office opened in Glasgow, Scotland.

1857
First Singer showroom and headquarters located at 458 Broadway, New York City.

1858
The first lightweight domestic machine, the "Grasshopper," was introduced.

Unit sales topped 3,000 a year.

Singer opened three manufacturing plants in New York City.

Singer opens an operation in Brazil.

1859
Singer received first of three patents for lock-stitch vibrating shuttle machines.

1861
Foreign sales exceed U.S. sales for the first time.

1863
The company was incorporated as the Singer Manufacturing Company, holding 22 patents and with capital assets of $550,000. Some 20,000 home sewing machines were being sold annually.

Branch office opened in Hamburg, Germany.

1865
The "New Family" sewing machine introduced.

1866
Singer patented an oscillating shuttle sewing machine.

1867
Singer opens its first factory outside of the United States, in Glasgow, Scotland.

1868
Cabinet factory opened in South Bend, Indiana.

1870
The Singer Company sells 170,000 machines.

The Singer Manufacturing Company opened sales and distribution centers in England.

The Singer Red “S” girl trademark made her debut. Her trademark is produced in several languages, becoming one of the most recognized trademarks in the world.

1870
Red "S" girl trademark made her debut-destined to become one of the best known emblems in the world.

1871
Singer’s Bridgton factory became the largest in Britain.

Unit sales reached 180,000 a year.

1872
Elizabethport, New Jersey became the site of a large, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility.

1873
With the official opening of the factory in Elizabethport, the Singer Manufacturing Company became a New Jersey Corporation under a special charter.

Canadian manufacturing began.

1875
I.M. Singer dies in Torquay, England at age 63.

1880
An Edison electric motor drives a sewing machine.

Singer sewing machine sales worldwide exceed 500,000 machines. Additional factories are established in the United States.

1881
Factory opened in Cairo, Illinois.

1882
Factories opened in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and Floridsdorf, Austria.

1883
To meet growing demand in Europe, Singer opened the largest sewing machine factory in the world in Kilbowie Scotland. This factory at one point employed 12,000 workers and its most distinctive feature was the second largest clock tower in the world at almost 200 feet high.

1884
Statue of Liberty, believed to be in Isabella Singer’s likeness, is given to U.S.

1889
Singer introduced the first practical electric sewing machine.

1890
Singer claims 80% worldwide market share in sewing machines.

1891
First use of electric motor to power a commercial machines.

1892
Singer developed a commercial zigzag machine.

1900
Singer Company was producing 40 different sewing machine models.

The "Singer 66" was introduced.

Kilbowie, Scotland factory renamed Clydebank.

1902
Factory opened in Podolsk, Russia.

1903
Annual sales reach 1.35 million machines worldwide.

1904
New factories opened in Wittenberge, Prussia and St. John’s, Quebec, Canada.

Russian corporate headquarters opened. It was Russia’s first steel girder structure.

Singer Sewing Machine Company became the sales and distribution division of Singer Manufacturing Company.

1905
Singer acquired Wheeler and Wilson Manufacturing Company.

1907
Factory opened in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

1908
Singer Building at 149 Broadway in New York City opens. At the time of its completion it was the first skyscraper and the tallest building in the world, standing at 47 stories, 612 feet tall. It was headquarters for the Executive Office for 54 years.

1913
Singer sales reach 3 million machines worldwide.

1921
Singer introduced the "Portable Electric," an electric-motor powered model 99K.

1927
First Singer Sewing Center, offering sewing courses, was introduced in New York City.

1929
Nine worldwide Singer manufacturing facilities exist, employing 27,000 people and producing 3,000 models.

Singer purchased the Standard Sewing Machine Company.

First vacuum cleaner introduced, launching Singer’s strategy of diversification beyond sewing machines.

1933
Singer introduced its "Featherweight" at the Chicago’s World Fair.

Factories opened in Monsa, Italy and Bounieres, France.

1949
Singer developed Model 95K capable of 4,000 stitches per minute.

1950
Plant opened in Anderson, South Carolina.

1951
Singer Sewing Centers train an estimated 400,000 housewives.

Singer recovers from World War II when sewing machine production was suspended, reaching $307.8 million in sales during its centennial year.

1952 Singer introduced the model 206, its first zigzag machine.
1955
New factory in Campinas, Brazil opened.

1957
Annual sales reached $359 million.

1958
Annual sales reached $507 million.

1960
Singer begins diversification. In the following years the Company will make acquisitions in electric and electric test equipment and office machinery, including Packard Bell Electronics (1966) and General Precision Equipment Corporation (1968).

1961
Executive Office moved to 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York City.

1963
The Singer Manufacturing Company changed its name to "The Singer Company."

1965
Singer introduces the "Touch and Sew" sewing machines.

Consolidated sales reached $979.8 million.

1966
Consolidated sales reached billion-dollar mark for the first time.

1970
Sales first topped $2 billion.

1971
Consolidated sales were $2.1 billion; shareholders numbered over 60,000. Singer employed nearly 120,000 people worldwide.

1973
Company stock was listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Annual Sales reached $2.5 billion.

1975
Singer introduces the world’s first electronic sewing machine, the Athena 2000.

1978
Singer introduced the Touchtronic 2001, the world’s first computer-controlled machine.

1979
Singer Headquarters are relocated to a new facility in Stamford, Connecticut.

1985
Singer introduced an entire new line of state-of the-art sewing machines with models designed to meet individual needs and budgets. These machines were built with "Duratec," a unique material which is stronger and lighter than aluminum yet provides double insulation. These easy to use sewing machines ranged from basic to the most sophisticated sewing machines and included a top-of-the-line electronic sewing machine which had the capacity to produce an unlimited number of stitch patterns, monograms, embroidery, and even sews sideways.

1989
Singer introduced the 9900 Unlimited with the largest microprocessor ever incorporated in a sewing machine.

1990
Singer introduced the 9900 Unlimited which contained the largest microprocessor ever incorporated in sewing machines. The model 9900 had many easy-to-use, time-saving features including a LED message center offering practical advice to the sewer.

1990
Singer introduced the QUANTUM® line, a new series of sewing machines specifically for the professional and avid sewer who demands performance, ease-of-use and state of the art features.

Singer introduced the Magic Steam Ironing Press™, an at-home version of presses found in most tailor shops and dry cleaning stores.

1990
The Quantumlock 4 and Quantumlock 5 overlocks offered exceptional performance with the most stitches available on any overlock.

1990
The Magic Steam Ironing Press was introduced, an at-home version of presses found in most tailor shops and dry cleaning stores. The Magic Steam Press cut ironing time in half and included a variable temperature control and automatic shut-off safety feature, plus burst of steam for stubborn wrinkles.

1991
Singer celebrated 140 years of innovation.

In August, the company went public with an initial public offering of 16,239,300 shares.

1994
Singer introduced the QUANTUM® XL-100, its top-of-the-line embroidery sewing machine.

1995
Singer introduced the Elegance line of sewing machines and the Embroidery Unlimited Machine. The new Embroidery Unlimited machine brought professional embroidery and monogramming to your personal computer.

1996
Singer introduced the Millennium Series sewing machines.

1997
Singer introduced the QUANTUM® XL-1000, the most advanced machine in the market offering a wide variety of memory cards for serious embroiderers.

Singer Sewing Company’s consumer products division relocated to Tennessee.

2001
Singer celebrated its 150th Anniversary.

Singer again launched the world’s most advanced home sewing and embroidery machine: the QUANTUM® XL-5000. The machine offers state of the art features such as a fully automated re-threading system, wind-in-place bobbin winding system, and the next generation of Professional Sew-Ware™, making it the most powerful and user-friendly system on the market.