Isaac Merritt Singer was born on October 27, 1811 in Pittstown, New York to German immigrants as an eighth child. His father was said to be a Jew while the mother was a Quaker. He left an indelible mark in the world with his pioneering work in the sewing machine industry.
The founder of the renowned Singer Sewing Machine Company had a tumultuous childhood but that did not inhibit his genius of shaping the landscape of domestic sewing as we know it today.
Here is his story as told by WoK.
Isaac Merritt Singer’s Early Years
His childhood was a difficult one as he dealt with his parents divorce and being abandoned by his mother. In adulthood, he took to acting, forming his own theatrical troupe, The Merritt Players.
Facing financial struggles after the group disbanded, he got a job where he worked for a plant in Fredericksburg, Ohio, that manufactured wooden type for printers.
He transitioned into becoming an inventor, earning his first patent for a rock-drilling machine in 1839.
Isaac Merritt Singer Invention of the Sewing Machine:
In June 1850, the innovator and a partner took their sewing machine prototype to Boston in hopes of securing financial support. They rented space in the workshop of
Orson C. Phelps, and the youthful Singer became intrigued with a sewing machine Phelps was developing for John A. Lerow and Sherburne C. Blodgett.
Taking notes of the flaws in the design, he envisioned a machine with a shuttle that moved in a straight path, and not in a circular movement as the machine Phelps was developing.
Singer made proposals of doing away with the curved horizontal needle and replacing it with a straight, vertically moving needle. These changes were approved by Phelps and Singer put his energy into perfecting his revolutionary machine.
He secured a patent in 1851 for his first practical sewing machine that incorporated several innovative features. It wasn’t until 1863 that company was incorporated as the Singer Manufacturing Company, taking over the business of I.M. Singer & Company.
SVP Worldwide Acquisition:
Singer business and trademarks were acquired by a private U.S. investment firm in 2004. In 2006, it became part of SVP Worldwide, which combined Singer with Husqvarna Viking and PFAFF, two other major sewing machine producers.
Platinum Equity completed the acquisition of a controlling stake in SVP-Singer Holdings, Inc., making the company’s position as the world’s largest consumer sewing machine entity.
Singer’s Personal Life:
His personal life almost matched his intriguing inventions. He had at least three wives and numerous children, said to number 24.
Isaac Merritt Singer was accused of bigamy and adultery, which forced Singer to flee to England. His union with Isobelle Eugenie Boyce Summerville in 1863 lasted until the end of his life.