Charles R. Flint was the founder of the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, the forerunner of IBM. A businessman and financier, Flint brought together in 1907 the principals of three companies -- the International Time Recording Company of Endicott, N.Y.; the Computing Scale Company of America, of Dayton, Ohio; and the Tabulating Machine Company of Washington, D.C. -- to propose a merger. Talks and detailed planning among the parties continued until June 6, 1911, when the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (C-T-R) was incorporated as a holding company controlling the three separate firms. Flint remained a member of C-T-R's board of directors until his retirement in 1930.
The following are adapted excerpts from an unofficial biography prepared by Ray Miller on January 1, 1960.
Charles R. Flint, was born in Thomaston, Me., in 1850. His father, Benjamin, operated the second largest clipper ship fleet then flying the American flag.
Six years after the Civil War, Charles Flint became a partner at age 21 in a New York ships' supplies firm, followed the next year by a partnership in W. R. Grace and Co., general shipping and international commission agents. Soon he was dealing in million dollar orders for sugar plantation machinery for Peru and other South and Latin American countries.
Flint became Chilean consul at New York City, a post he filled from 1876 to 1879, at which time he became consul general to the United States for Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
In 1892, Flint brought together a number of companies in a merger to be known as U. S. Rubber. His business took him from continent to continent and, as the Spanish-American War threat grew in 1898, he became a secret envoy of the United States to buy vessels throughout the world for conversion to warships.
A year later he brought about two new business mergers -- American Chicle and American Woolen. He also worked with Wilbur and Orville Wright, selling their airplanes and patents outside the United States and United Kingdom.
At about this time he reasoned that a combination of companies making different products might have advantages. If one product had a bad year, the profits of the others would carry the business. It was this principle that prompted Flint to form C-T-R in 1911.