Charles Ranlett Flint

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Charles Ranlett Flint
Charles Ranlett Flint.jpg
Flint in 1907
Born (1850-01-24)January 24, 1850
Thomaston, Maine, U.S.
Died February 26, 1934(1934-02-26) (aged 84)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Occupation Financial capitalist
  • Emma Kate Simmons (m. 1883; d. 1926)
  • Charlotte Reeves (m. 1927)

Charles Ranlett Flint (January 24, 1850 – February 26, 1934) was an American businessman, best known as 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 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 the New York University - Tandon School of Engineering (then Polytechnic University of New York) 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.[4]

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 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 consolidated four companies to form the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company.[6][7] In 1924, the company was re-christened as International Business Machines. Flint served on the board of directors of IBM until 1930 when he retired.[2][8]

His Time Magazine obituary stated he negotiated the Wright Brothers' first sales of airplanes overseas.[9] But it was the Wrights themselves, in sometimes contentious negotiations with Charles R. Flint & Co., who determined contract terms.[10]


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



  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. ^ a b "'Father of Trusts' Going Back to Work at 80; C.R. Flint Will Undertake Another Merger". 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. ^ a b Stinson, John: The Charles Ranlett Flint Papers, 1872–1930, 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. ^ Bennett, Frank P.; Company (17 June 1911). United States Investor. 22, Part 2. p. 1298 (26). 
  7. ^ "IBM Archives: Frequently Asked Questions" (PDF). p. 28. 
  8. ^ "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". 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. 
  9. ^ "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.' 
  10. ^ 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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