History of Smith-Corona Typewriters

In 1886, four brothers, Lyman, Wilbert, Monroe, and Hurlburt Smith, owners of the Smith Gun Company, met with Alexander Brown to discuss a design for a new gun. Instead, Brown shared with the Smith brothers his idea for a typewriter. They liked the design, and decided to produce it. So, Smith-Premiere Typewriter Company was established in Syracuse, New York.

The business was extremely successful, and over the years it went through many changes, including renaming Smith-Premiere to L.C. Smith & Bros. in 1903.

Corona Typewriters began in 1909, when Ben Conger, a state senator from New York, with the help of two friends, bought the patent and manufacturing rights from Frank Rose and his son, George, for the 'Standard Folding Type-Bar Visible Writing Typewriter'. Rose had been producing these typewriters in small quantities in New York City. When Conger and his friends purchased the rights, they began the Standard Typewriter Company, moving the machinery from New York City to Groton, New York. In 1914 they renamed their business after their most successful typewriter and became the Corona Typewriter Company.

The merger of the two companies happened in 1926. L.C. Smith was the leading manufacturer in office typewriters, and Corona Typewriter Company boasted top sales in portable typewriters.

When World War II broke out, Smith & Corona, by U.S. Government request, offered the services of their sales force for assistance in the purchasing of typewriters. They also stopped production on their typewriters and concentrated on making weapons for the war. In the plant in Syracuse, New York, they produced approximately 23,000 U.S. Smith-Corona rifles per month, as well as making Navy guns, pistols, machine guns, torpedoes, over sixty-four million bombs parts, as well as other instruments of war. Their factory in Groton was assigned war contracts to create classified equipment for the Navy and Army Signal Corp.

Because of their contributions, Smith-Corona's Groton plant received the Army-Navy "E", while the Syracuse factory was given special commendation from the Army Ordinance Department. By 1943, the demand for rifles had been filled, and once again the need for typewriters arose, so Smith & Corona was asked to return to their normal production.

In 1948, the electric typewriter became extremely desirable, creating a challenge for Smith-Corona. Their first electric office typewriter was introduced in 1955. After a decade's research, they produced a typewriter with a scientifically slanted keyboard, making it more efficient to use. It also had more keyboard controls than other electric typewriters, as well automatic repeat actions on all of the keys.

During the 1960's and early 70's, Smith- Corona concentrated on the advancements of their electric typewriters. They succeeded in making their machines more compact, and the keys were able to be depressed more easily than earlier models. In 1974, they became a division of Kleinschmidt and ceased work on their office typewriters, focusing instead on their portable lines.

Smith-Corona filed a complaint against the Brother Company located in Japan, in 1974. They accused Brother of 'dumping' portable typewriters on the market for prices below cost. The Government issued an import fee to Brother, but the fight wasn’t over. There was a twist in roles during 1985. Smith-Corona moved their manufacturing to Singapore, while Brother opened a factory in Tennessee. Brother was able to make the same accusations towards Smith-Corona. A truce was called in 1994, ending the twenty year strife of the two competitors.

When the PC revolution swept across the country, Smith-Corona yet again scrambled to keep up with technology. They began manufacturing PCs, but kept their main focus on typewriters. That turned out to be a mistake. In 1995 the company filed bankruptcy and new management took over.

Smith - Corona had a few names over the years. Whether it was the change of times, or the additions of companies, Smith- Corona has had three variations after the original merger. When they first merged, they were Smith & Corona, then they changed their name to Smith-Corona in 1942. In 1953 they became Smith-Corona Inc. And finally, in September of 1958, Smith-Corona merged with Marchant Calculators. The resulting company, Smith-Corona Marchant, or SCM, became known internationally as a diversified and aggressive corporation.

Smith-Corona typewriters has made itself at home on the desks of many famous writers, including Robert Caro, Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Olen Butler, and Tennessee Williams.