Charles Ranlett Flint

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Charles Ranlett Flint
Charles Ranlett Flint.jpg
Flint in 1907
Born(1850-01-24)January 24, 1850
DiedFebruary 26, 1934(1934-02-26) (aged 84)
OccupationFinancial capitalist - Founder of Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company
  • Emma Kate Simmons
    m. 1883; died 1926)
  • Charlotte Reeves
    m. 1927)

Charles Ranlett Flint (January 24, 1850 – February 26, 1934) was the founder of the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company which later became IBM. For his financial dealings he earned the moniker "Father of Trusts".[1][2]

Early life and family[edit]

Flint was born on January 24, 1850 in Thomaston, Maine.[3] His father, Benjamin Chapman, had changed the family name to Flint after being adopted by an uncle on his mother's side. The family moved from Maine to New York City where his father ran the family's mercantile firm Chapman & Flint, which had been founded in 1837.[4]

Business career[edit]

In 1868, Charles Flint graduated from Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute (now New York University - Tandon School of Engineering) in Brooklyn, and in 1871 entered the shipping business as a partner in Gilchrest, Flint & Co., and later W.R. Grace & Co. after a merger.

From 1876 to 1879, he served as the Chilean consul at New York City. He also served as consul general to the United States for Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

In 1892, he consolidated several companies to form U.S. Rubber.[5] In 1893, he fitted out a fleet of naval ships for Brazilian Republic. He purchased the Esmeralda from Chilean Navy and delivered it via Ecuador to Japan during the First Sino-Japanese War.[6] In 1899 he repeated the same with Adams Chewing Gum, Chiclets, Dentyne, and Beemans to form American Chicle. He was also responsible for the formation of American Woolen in 1899.

In 1911 he formed the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company through the amalgamation (via stock acquisition) of four companies: The Tabulating Machine Company, International Time Recording Company, Computing Scale Company of America, and the Bundy Manufacturing Company.[7][8][9] Amalgamation was unusual at the time - Flint described it as an "allied" consolidation.[10] In 1924, CTR was re-christened as International Business Machines. Flint served on the board of directors of IBM until 1930 when he retired.[11]

He died on February 26, 1934 in Washington, D.C..[12]


Charles Flint was an avid sportsman and loved swimming, hunting, fishing, sailing, and aviation. He helped found the Automobile Club of America. He held the world water speed record.

His Time Magazine obituary stated he negotiated the Wright Brothers' first sales of airplanes overseas.[13] But it was the Wrights themselves, in sometimes contentious negotiations with Charles R. Flint & Co., who determined contract terms.[14]


  • Flint, Charles Ranlett (1923). Memories of an active life: Men, and Ships, and Sealing Wax. G.P. Putnam's Sons.
  • Flint, Charles Ranlett (1892). Industrial combinations: Address by Charles R. Flint, before The Commercial Club of Providence on the evening of April 29th, 1892.
  • Flint, Charles Ranlett; James J. Hill; James H. Bridge; S. C. T. Dodd; Francis B. Thurber (1902). The Trust, Its Book: Being a presentation of the several aspects of the latest form of industrial revolution. Doubleday, Page & Co. 21


  1. ^ Cashman, Sean Dennis (1984). America in the Gilded Age: From the Death of Lincoln to the Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. New York: New York University Press. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-8147-1387-7. OCLC 9762495.
  2. ^ "'Father of Trusts' Going Back to Work at 80; C.R. Flint Will Undertake Another Merger". The New York Times. January 21, 1930. Retrieved 2010-12-14. Charles Ranlett Flint, who on Friday will celebrate his eightieth birthday, expects to go back to Wall Street and resume business at the old stand, 25 Broad Street. Not that he has ever retired, for the offices have been maintained and he has bees more or less in touch with them, but for the last two years Mr. ...
  3. ^ "Coal Merger?". Time. February 16, 1925. Charles Ranlett Flint was born in Thomaston, Me., in 1850. His people had always been shippers; he, looking-for his first job, went to "every shipping office in Manhattan," but no one would hire him. Thereupon he wrote himself a reference, had cards made which declared him to be an. expert dock-clerk, entered Grace & Co., shippers. ...
  4. ^ Stinson, John: The Charles Ranlett Flint Papers, 1872–1930 Archived June 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, New York Public Library, November 1991.
  5. ^ Flint, Charles R. (1923). Memories of an Active Life: Men, and Ships, and Sealing Wax. G.P. Putnam's Sons. pp. 300–302.
  6. ^ John William Leonard; William Frederick Mohr; Frank R. Holmes (1907). Who's who in New York City and State. L.R. Hamersly Company. pp. 505.
  7. ^ The New York Times June 10, 1911 Tabulating Concerns Unite: Flint & Co. Bring Four Together with $19,000,000 capital
  8. ^ Bennett, Frank P.; Company (17 June 1911). United States Investor. 22, Part 2. p. 1298 (26).
  9. ^ "IBM Archives: Frequently Asked Questions" (PDF). p. 28.
  10. ^ Flint (1923) p.312
  11. ^ "Flint, 81, Retires; 'Father of Trusts'. Passed 50 Years of His Life in Making Big Industrial Concerns From Small Units. Intends To Hunt and Fish. Woolen, Chicle, Rubber and Many Other Combinations Due to His Efforts. Arrived Here 65 Years Ago. Proud of Money-Making Mergers". The New York Times. February 19, 1931. Retrieved 2010-12-14. Charles Ranlett Flint, who spent fifty years of his life organizing small industrial units into large corporations, announced here yesterday that he was retiring at the age of 81 for the second and last time.
  12. ^ "C. R. Flint is Dead. 'Father of Trusts'. Former Industrialist Was a Pioneer in Consolidation of Large Corporations. Helped Form U.S. Rubber. Retired at 78, but Returned to Activities Two Years Later. Owner of Speedy Yachts". The New York Times. February 14, 1934.
  13. ^ "Died". Time. February 26, 1934. Charles Ranlett Flint, 84, retired industrial promoter, international agent, sportsman; of arteriosclerosis, after two years' illness; in Washington. Son of a New England clipper fleet owner, he fitted out warships for Brazilian revolutionists; sold torpedo boats and submarines to Russia, a cruiser to Japan; negotiated the Wright Brothers' first sales of airplanes abroad. He gathered a fortune reputed to be $100,000,000, had a hand in forming so many U. S. corporations that newspapers christened him 'Father of Trusts.'
  14. ^ Crouch, Tom (1989). The Bishop's Boys (1 ed.). New York: W.W. Norton & Company. pp. 328–30, 331, 334–335, 337–338, 342, 346, 359, 360, 406, 440, 451–452. ISBN 0-393-02660-4.

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