Born on June 3, 1864, in Geneva, Ohio, Ransom
Eli Olds was an American inventor and automobile manufacturer.
He designed the three-horsepower, curved-dash Oldsmobile which
was the first commercially successful American-made automobile.
It was also the first to use a progressive assembly system,
which foreshadowed modern mass-production methods.
In 1899 a wealthy lumberman named Samuel L. Smith provided the financial backing
Olds needed to form the Olds Motor Works in Lansing, Michigan. The first Oldsmobiles
were marketed in 1901, and sales reached 5,000 in 1904.
In 1904, after an argument with Smith over the latter's plans to substitute a
large touring car for the popular Oldsmobile, Olds left the company and formed
the Reo Motor Car Company. By 1907 he had built Reo into one of the industry's
leaders, but after 1908 the company steadily lost ground to its competitors.
After 1915 Olds turned most of his attention from the automobile business to
other activities, including the marketing of a lawn mower he had invented and
land speculation in Florida. He later died in Lansing, Michigan on August 26,