Cyrus Hall McCormick, Sr. was born in 1809 at Walnut Grove, Virginia to Robert McCormick and Mary Ann Hall McCormick who migrated from Great Britain to USA. He and his family were considerably influential. He was born into a family of eight children as the eldest son.
Cyrus Hall McCormick's portrait

Mechanical Reaper

Robert McCormick, Cyrus’ father, was an inventor in his own right, having a few patents of his own. Harvesting grain was a problem in those days, and Robert McCormick worked for around three decades to make a usable horse-drawn mechanical reaper in vain. So, Cyrus took up this unfinished task on behalf of his father. With the help of Jo Anderson, a slave on the plantation, he finished building a working mechanical reaper within 18 months. Cyrus was given a patent for this on June 21, 1834.

Cyrus Hall McCormick's mechanical repaer

However, this reaper was not usable or practical, and hence, they could not sell it to the farmers. However, Cyrus (and possibly other family members) made continuous improvements to the reaper, and finally, in 1840, managed to sell to his first customer. Gradually, sales picked up. All the while, incremental improvements were being made to the reaper, culminating in the granting of another patent for the improvements on January 31, 1845. However, when he tried to renew it in 1848, there was trouble. The USPTO noticed that Obed Hussey, born to Quaker parents, had been awarded a similar patent, a few months before Cyrus’ patent. As a result of this, the patent was denied. In spite of this, he, along with this brother William McCormick, moved to Chicago and started selling the McCormick reaper there under the company name “Cyrus H. McCormick and Brothers”. (Obed Hussey, in spite of possibly inventing it earlier, was driven out of business, and eventually sold the rights to McCormick.)

The reaper won the gold medal in 1851 at the Crystal palace Exhibition (London). In 1879, his brother Leander renamed the company to “McCormick Harvesting Machine Company”, to acknowledge the contributions of the rest of the family members.

Cyrus McCormick died at the age of 75 on May 13, 1884. Another inventor, George Washington Carver, was around 20 years old at this time!