Mechanical and organizational innovation: the Drapers and the automatic loom.
From the 1870s until the mid-twentieth century, the Draper Company was the single most important innovative force in the cotton textile machine industry (see Table 1). In the 1870s and 1880s, it was the leading actor in the development and continued improvement of high-speed ring spinning, the most important spinning innovations of the late nineteenth century textile industry. In weaving technology, the Draper automatic loom, introduced in 1895, was a breakthrough invention whose fundamental design remained the industry standard, unrivaled by any twentieth-century textile innovation until the development of shuttleless looms after the Second World War.
Behind this record of success in mechanical invention lies a history of innovation in business organization as well. By the early twentieth century, the Drapers had achieved a dominant market position, protected by barriers to competition. They faced the strategic choice that confronts any entrenched innovative firm when it considers what to do with its legacy of previous technological success: whether to continue the commitment to the development of significant new technologies or to mine existing resources through more adaptive technical change. In 1907 a struggle among Draper family factions resulted in a change in top management and a reorientation of the company's development policy toward a more adaptive path. This article describes the history of the Draper Company's rise to technological leadership and the critical 1907 shift in strategic policy, and it briefly examines the consequences of that decision.
Little is known about the extent of industrial research during the mid-nineteenth century in industries associated with the First Industrial Revolution, but the Draper Company's early and extensive commitment of resources to industrial research seems distinctive. Recent studies of early industrial research have emphasized its origins in changes in the business environment that do not apply to the Draper experience--in the growth of science-based chemical and electrical firms identified as the core of the Second Industrial Revolution and in the establishment of industrial laboratories as part of the central office rationalization and planning that often followed extensive mergers. (1) In contrast to these models, the Draper Company successfully developed new technologies in the oldest of mechanical industries rather than in the newly emerging sectors characterized by high concentrations of scientific and engineering personnel. The Drapers employed few formally trained engineers or scientists, and well into the twentieth century most of their inventors were trained through industry experience as operators, draughtsmen, or mechanics. Moreover, increased administrative coordination of research efforts more often led than followed the company's success as a manufacturer.
Within the textile industry, most of the conventional picture of technical progress is based on the more extensively studied early British textile industry. Technical change there, including the origins of mechanized spinning and power loom weaving, occurred through incremental, fragmented improvements in firms across the industry, and innovation was not characterized by concentrated research and development expenditures. After mechanized factory production was established, the next major British technological breakthrough was the development of the self-acting mule. The engineering firm of Sharp, Roberts & Company committed sufficient resources to invent a self-acting mule only after spinning manufacturers, responding to striking mule spinners in 1825, collectively asked Richard Roberts to develop a self-actor. (2)
In the United States, the Waltham system was noted for its relatively high capital costs, but early American technology was "borrowed" from abroad (although subsequent technical improvements and adaptations were of dramatic cumulative importance). (3) The pattern of industrial research and the trajectory of textile machine design in the United States diverged from the pattern of the British machine industry after the mid-nineteenth century. (4) The Drapers' contribution to high-speed ring spinning and automatic weaving made them worldwide leaders in the development of textile technology, and the scale of inventive activities within the Draper Company by the beginning of the twentieth century was comparable to that within the new, large, science-based firms. Yet the degree to which this one U.S. firm was central to the innovation process in the textile industry has received little attention.
Origins of the Draper Business and Early Inventions: Temples
The origins of the American textile machinery industry from the 1790s to the 1820s are well known. In both the extensive, capital-intensive Waltham system and the smaller, more specialized Slater operations, the "bootstrap" tasks of equipping the early cloth factories took place within the textile machine shops and gave mechanical form to the Industrial Revolution in America. From the late 1820s to the end of the 1840s, many new and independent machine shops were formed, selling a large variety of machinery over a widening geographical area. By the mid-nineteenth century, the industry consisted of firms with broad product lines as machine builders increasingly diversified their production. Nineteen firms were responsible for most of the sales of textile machinery: seven fully diversified machine shops, five firms increasingly diversified yet without a complete machinery line, and six specialized producers making only looms or one or two types of carding or spinning frames. (5)
Although most fundamental textile machine designs had been smuggled in from Britain, American firms were noted for contributing significant technical improvements during the formative years. By the middle of the century, few significant innovations were originating in the larger machine shops. (6) The relative contribution of the large shops as a group to technological advance continued to decline, an important factor in their ultimate demise. The most important improvements came from independent inventors, most often mill overseers or mechanics. Such inventors often did not open their own shops, but instead sold the use of their patent rights. They either accepted a lump sum payment or licensed one or more machine manufacturers to serve as intermediaries, collecting royalties from mill customers. (7)
Ira Draper, a resident of Weston, Massachusetts, came out of this milieu. He was a prolific inventor of farm equipment and was sufficiently prominent in his patent activity to be mentioned by John Quincy Adams among those considered (but not appointed) as Commissioner of Patents. (8) But Draper's primary business was based on two textile-related patents--one for a revolving loom temple dating from 1816 and another for an improved version in 1829. In New England, the necessity of manually readjusting the temples on the edges of the cloth as it was woven limited each weaver to the operation of a single power loom. Ira Draper's invention enabled a New England weaver to run two looms at a time.
Ira sold his textile patent rights and the temple business to his eldest son, James. As the sole patentee from 1830 to 1837, James Draper primarily, if not exclusively, licensed other companies as manufacturers and suppliers of the loom temples. Whatever the specific terms of these licensing arrangements with independent suppliers, he retained sufficient control and incentive to advertise temples personally, both to cloth mills and to loom manufacturers. The temples sold for $2 a pair including royalty rights. (9) James Draper brought in his stepbrother E[benezer]. D. Draper as managing partner in 1837 and retired to farming.
In 1842 E. D. Draper moved his business and family to Hopedale, Massachusetts, to join the Christian Socialist community led by Adin Ballou. (10) Although the transitional stages toward increased Draper manufacturing are not known, the Hopedale Company soon became the principal supplier of Draper temples and began manufacturing other textile machinery parts as well. As the Hopedale community encountered financial difficulties, E. D. Draper led the efforts to increase the surplus generated by his textile machinery business in order to finance the rest of the community's activities. In 1852 E. D. brought in his younger brother George as managing copartner. George was clearly attracted by the business prospects and at best tolerated the governing community ideals. He purchased the copartnership for $5,000 and took the position of manager of operations. Like his brother, George had developed his machinery experience as a weaving overseer prior to joining in the family business. He had worked in several positions as a mill manager and as a mill superintendent prior to 1852, and he had already patented several loom-related inventions. George and E. D. Draper's Hopedale partnership employed seventeen workmen in the manufacture of loom attachments by 1855. Their enterprise was a pioneering effort in specialized manufacturing within the textile equipment industry.
In 1856 the religious settlement was declared insolvent, and the community sold its assets to E. D. and George Draper "for their sole use, behoof, and disposal forever." (11) At that time the Drapers reorganized the settlement solely for the purpose of manufacturing textile equipment. George Draper directed the expansion and reorganization of the E. D. and G. Draper Company's business activities. Facing competition from an improved loom temple patented and manufactured by Warren W. Dutcher and his brother in 1851, the Drapers purchased Elihu Dutcher's 50 percent interest in the patent in 1854. The Drapers convinced Warren Dutcher to move his operations to Hopedale in 1856, and Dutcher became the manager of the W. W. Dutcher Temple Company there. Warren Dutcher subsequently took out twenty patents on temples and on machines for manufacturing them. Some of his ideas were never patented, however; instead, the Drapers kept them under lock and key in an effort to prolong their monopoly beyond the seventeen years that a patent would cover. Dutcher's patents and his carefully guarded manufacturing methods for making temples enabled the W. W. Dutcher Company to gain control of the temple market. (12)
The Drapers formed two other copartnerships in 1856 with Joseph Bancroft, George Draper's brother-in-law. Bancroft was named manager of what became the other major Draper manufacturing facility, the Hopedale Machine Company, which manufactured and tested all non-temple inventions produced at Hopedale. The second, the Hopedale Furnace Company, was established as a partnership of the Drapers, Bancroft, and Dutcher. Principally a foundry managed by Dutcher, it made the castings required by the other two manufacturing facilities. In an arrangement continued until the end of the century, the Drapers maintained control of all three companies by acquiring the principal shareholding interest and by making the E. D. and G. Draper Company the exclusive selling agent for the affiliated manufacturers. It served as George Draper's main vehicle for controlling patent rights in addition to being the marketing agency for all Hopedale-manufactured machines, machine parts, and attachments. (13)
The Drapers were part of an active, but changing, business environment. From 1850 to the mid-1870s, the number of textle machine builders increased to its peak level. At least twenty-seven American textile machine manufacturers were in operation in 1874, and five British companies exported to the U.S. market. Eight of the American firms and one of the British offered a more or less complete line of mill equipment, but fifteen American cachinery builders specialized in the production of two or fewer machines. The entry of new firms with narrower product lines contrasted with the earlier trend toward diversification. (14) Almost all of the American textile machine companies that had begun as mill machine shops were formally independent entities by the 1870s. As the textile industry expanded from 1840 to 1880, it came to be based on fewer but larger firms. Cultivating loyalty among these rapidly expanding customers was therefore an imprtant sales strategy for the increasing number of specialized machine producers. (15)
Even before it assumed a dominant role, the Draper organization was set apart from other makers of textile machinery by several structural and strategic characteristics. First, using minimal manufacturing capacity, the company specialized in the development of widely marketed machine parts and attachments. Product development was a major focus within the company, but internal research was complemented by aggressive acquisition of patents having commercial potential and by the direct employment of the most promising inventors. Even when they pooled patents, as with Dutcher, the Drapers maintained overall patent control. The Draper agency not only marketed both parts and licensing rights to other manufacturers of new machines, but they also sold replacement parts directly to mills in all regions and for nearly all loom models. Their success in this market was unique in an era when mill repair shops usually made their own spare parts. (16)
The Spindle Patent Pool and Patent Defense
When the key Dutcher patent expired in 1868, E. D. Draper was bought out by his nephew William F. Draper, and the company was reorganized as George Draper & Son, father and son holding equal interests. (17) George Draper's experience with patented inventions, including the patents pooled with Dutcher, placed George Draper & Son at center stage in the key innovations in the textile machine industry over the next two decades. The company first seized the initiative in the development of high-speed spinning, and then pioneered a patent pool around the principle of the high-speed spindle, one of the earliest such pools in America. (18)
As early as 1870, the Drapers operated a separate department for research and testing, and they continued to diversify their control of patented textile parts. Although no figures are available, the scale of inventive activity attests that the Draper Company's expenditures on applied research not only set the pace for the textile industry, but also established the company as a leader among all U.S. industries. (19) Sufficient evidence to assess the full extent of the Draper Company's diversification in 1870 does not exist, but one large diversified machine manufacturer, the Whitin Machine Works, held eight out of its ten use-licensing arrangements from the Drapers. The Drapers received 25 percent of their royalties from Whitin for patents related to cotton-processing prior to spinning, 30 percent for those related to spinning, and 45 percent for weaving-related patents. (20)
As their royalty revenues grew, the Drapers extended their product line to include complete machinery. In the early 1870s their Hopedale plants began to manufacture spoolers, warpers, and, by the second half of the decade, twisters. All three machines processed and repackaged yarns to be used as warp yarns, the vertical yarns that create a pattern of "sheds" through which the shuttles pass carrying filling yarns on bobbins during weaving. The Draper warper soon controlled the bulk of the trade. Still, the Draper products were confined to the fringes of the industry, since all of these machines together made up 4 percent at most of the total machinery cost of a textile mill. (21)
By 1870 the Drapers had made a conscious decision to redirect their efforts in securing patentable inventions from primarily loom-related mechanisms to the field of spinning. Textile industry interest in the potential of a lighter and faster spindle was sparked in April 1871, when Jacob H. Sawyer, the mill agent of the Appleton Mills in Lowell, presented the successful results of his spindle experiments to the New England Cotton Manufacturers' Association. George Draper had already gotten the jump on the rest of the industry by securing a large, although not controlling, interest in Sawyer's patent at least a month prior to Sawyer's public presentation. Thomas R. Navin highlights this episode as foreshadowing Draper's sustained risk-taking and "heroic" daring. (22) But it was actually one among several examples, and not the first occasion, of periodic radical change in which Draper's organizational capabilities were systematically utilized to take pioneering steps in product development.
Just as George Draper had done with Warren Dutcher earlier, the Drapers brought Jacob Sawyer to Hopedale to manage the Sawyer Spindle Company. George Draper's ownership interest rose from 29 percent in 1873 to 56 percent by 1875. Other Draper family members also held shares, making the total Draper interest in the Sawyer Spindle Company 30 percent in 1873 and 80 percent by 1875. (23)
The Hopedale Machine Company had sufficient production capacity to meet the demand for Sawyer spindles as replacements in spinning frames already in place, and the Drapers controlled the sales of high-speed spindles for use in retrofitting old frames of various types from the start. As manufacturers, the Drapers were aware of direct competition from the primary market and therefore designed and sold replacement spindles that could be transferred easily into new spinning frames at a later date. But the Drapers did not manufacture spinning frames, and their ability to supply the primary market for high-speed spindles in new frames was problematical. Limited in production capacity and dependent on selling to several competing frame manufacturers, the Drapers' early priority was to secure the higher-margin replacement sales rather than the higher-volume primary market. However, this strategy created difficulties that were reflected in the company's shifting licensing relations with suppliers and customers. The company first tried to meet orders for Sawyer spindles in new frames by subcontracting with several small specialty manufacturers. For a time they tolerated deliveries of Sawyer spindles that were periodically late and inferior in quality, rather than risk licensing the large machinery manufacturers. They accurately feared the larger companies' capabilities for developing competing spindle patents.
As their capacity increased, the Drapers tried to sell Sawyer spindles manufactured at Hopedale directly to the spinning frame manufacturers, but this strategy encountered other sorts of difficulties. The Whitin Machine Works, which from the early 1870s sold more spinning frames than its three largest competitors combined, was the Drapers' largest direct customer. Draper initially refused to allow Whitin to manufacture Sawyer spindles, so any mill encountering operating problems had to navigate through the mutual recriminations passing between Draper and Whitin as to whether the fault lay in the spindle or in the frame.
Customer confidence could hardly be enhanced in this manner. Whitin did make the investment necessary for the redesign of its frame, but now with a whole-hearted commitment to the Sawyer spindle: Whitin's new frame design permitted use of either the common or the Sawyer spindle. The Draper Company was concerned about the lack of confidence shown in its high-speed spindle, and finally, by the start of 1874, they consented to license Whitin for the manufacture of Sawyer spindles for Whitin's own frames. Draper also licensed six other sizable textile machine shops for the manufacture of spindles applied to their new frames. The terms for sharing patent control included the conditions for licensing the manufacture of patented spindles, the division of the primary and replacement parts markets, the responsibility for sales promotion, and even mechanisms for arbitration to set adjustments to royalty fees.
The technological barrier to increased spindle speed lay in the accompanying increases in vibration, which required greater consumption of power and created more frequent yarn breakage. Sawyer's patented invention entailed a change in the support of the spindles that enabled a reduction in their weight and in the diameter of bearings. The Sawyer spindle design was deficient in sustaining its promised high speeds, however, and it required extensive complementary modification of basic components for improved operation across the full range of yarns by fineness and type. The Sawyer spindle's greatest advantage lay in permitting significant decreases in power consumption.
Numerous patentable alterations in spindle design were undertaken that led both to incremental, cumulative improvements and to many alternative models with varying tradeoffs between speed and power consumption. The Drapers faced competition from inventors and investors pursuing the goal of high-speed spinning with a variety of often closely related designs. Despite the competitive stimulus to rapid technical advance, a mass of separate patent claims could impede commercial development of spinning innovations in three ways: by blocking the integration of complementary patented design modifications through the mutual obstruction of suit and countersuit; by deterring the exchange of unpatentable technological expertise essential for the easy use of a patent or for complementary invention; and by fragmenting the market, thereby significantly lowering profits. Patent pooling sought to overcome these impediments by regulating patent competition; it also reflected the increasingly cooperative nature of research and product development. Like other pooling arrangements, patent pooling was a transitional stop on the way to increasingly centralized and administratively coordinated activities. (24)
The stability of patent pooling agreements required the regulation of all other important forms of competitive behavior, including product prices and market spheres. The two most serious threats to the market control of the Sawyer Spindle Company came from large-scale frame manufacturers. One, a new patent controlled by Fales & Jenks Machine Company for the Rabbeth spindle, was "founded on a completely new principle," whereas the second, developed at the Whitin Machine Works, only "contained elements of independent value." In both cases, the Drapers exchanged a small number of Sawyer Spindle Company shares for patent rights to maintain control over the patent pool. (25)
The strategy of the Draper Company (now George Draper and Sons, as William's brothers, George A. and Eben S. Draper were admitted as partners in 1877 and 1880) was three-pronged. First, they committed company resources to further invention and patent activity. Second, they sought to purchase the rights to competitors' inventions and to consolidate them into their pool, even if on occasion the purchase price included sharing some degree of control over the patent pool. Finally, if patent competition could not be prevented by the first two strategies, patent litigation was the inevitable third step. The three prongs of their strategy complemented each other; a strong position in each enhanced the potential effectiveness of the other two.
By raising the costs of patent competition through unrelenting and effective litigation, the Drapers created a wide berth for their internally developed patents and enhanced their bargaining leverage when acquiring patent rights from others. Describing the last of five major cases of patent litigation, Thomas Navin comments, "Only the foll-hardy or the ill-advised would have had the daring to back the litigious Drapers into a corner. Court actions were part of the Draper stock-in-trade. The very foundation of their firm was cemented with lawsuits and reinforced with injunctions. George Draper & Sons were famed for invincibility before the bar." (26) The human and financial resources spent by the firm in support of litigation were impressive. From 1874 to 1880, George Draper and his son William were in court frequently enough to generate over ten thousand printed pages of testimony. The younger Draper reported that during these six years he spent more than half of his days appearing in court, consulting with lawyers, or conducting experiments required to demonstrate the scientific basis to the company's cases. (27)
Much of the Draper patent activity was defensive, using a credible threat of legal action to raise patent barriers to competition even when the patents were not utilized. For example, the Drapers successfully brought suit against the Eureka Spindle Company for infringement of a patent that was not in use in any form. (28) This instance of defensive patent protection was not exceptional. The Drapers explained and justified their general strategy:
It is possible that were the several hundred spindle inventions built for the trade, in approved form, a fair per cent of them might find converts, and give good satisfaction in use. Such a multiplicity, however, would cause confusion to our customers, and consternation to ourselves; so that we prefer to continue the responsibility of decision as to type, for as long as conditions warrant. (29)
The Drapers' unwavering commitment to universal patent defense was demonstrated by their suit against the Wauregan Mill. This case revolved around the priority of invention of a lot of 500 custom bobbins with a total value of $5.00. The Drapers had their lawyers interview all the mill employees who could be found for the years 1868 to 1871, incurring legal costs for this case in excess of $25,000. (30)
The relative importance of intrafirm development of spindle patents and external patent acquisition to the Drapers' control can also be assessed. In 1903 the Drapers reviewed the performance of the spindle market and listed all the inventors of important spindle innovations since 1870 and the number of spindle patents issued to each (see Table 2). As the Drapers reported, "The great mass of patents taken out by the [listed] men are, or have been, owned by the Sawyer Spindle Co., the control of this single element, in a wide field of mechanisms, necessitating the ownership of hundreds of patents within the dates mentioned." (31)
The eight Draper in-house inventor-patentees included four employees who were granted thirty spindle patents over this period. The remaining four in-house inventors were Draper family members. Their eighty-eight patents were the result not only of their capabilities for prolific invention, but also of their command of resources as owner-supervisors of the research and engineering department. Roughly one-quarter of the spindle patents under Draper control were developed in-house.
The acquisition of three-quarters of the patents in the pool from external sources indicates how the Drapers consolidated their control. Navin, who wrote that "At the height of their power, the Drapers owned or controlled every important spindle patent in America and Europe--some two hundred in number," in fact significantly underestimated the extent of the Drapers' patent holdings. (32) The peak number of unexpired patents controlled by the patent pool exceeded 250 in the 1880s, the years of peak spindle patent activity. But the company's ability to sustain control over spindle technology is better reflected by the total number of different spindle patents it controlled between 1871 and 1903, which was 463. (33)
Draper control of the spindle patent pool was built, first, on the early recognition of key patents, such as the Sawyer spindle, which they rapidly acquired whenever possible. They continued the aggressive acquisition of spindle patent rights in three ways: by direct purchase, in exchange for participation in the spindle patent pool, and through the in-house development of patentable inventions. The Drapers not only maintained their technological leadership in improved spindles, but, by increasing their stock of patents, they also gained bargaining leverage in negotiating patent acquisitions and enhanced their capability for legal defense of the patents they controlled. As the history of their patent litigation attests, the Drapers sought direct patent protection and raised barriers to technical developments that might circumvent their key patents.
In the spindle business, although they were the first and strongest among a few partners, they contended with formidable rivals both inside and outside the pooling arrangements. In contrast, in the business they went on to build around their loom patents, there would be no surviving competitors and no need of partners. The Drapers developed unassailable control over the returns to their loom innovations through an unprecedented buildup in the scale of in-house inventive activity. As a result, the Drapers relied much less on actual litigation to protect their loom innovations, and the financial resources committed to legal purposes declined compared to those applied to research and development. (34)
The Northrop Loom and Draper Company Invention
After power loom weaving was established in the early nineteenth century, the only major time-consuming manual task left to be mechanized was replenishing the filling. The magnitude of this task can be better understood when it is broken down into its several steps. When the filling in the shuttle of a common loom was exhausted or broken, the loom automatically stopped. Weaving ceased until the weaver released the shipper-brake, pushed the lay back, withdrew the shuttle from the box or shed, put in the reserve shuttle, and operated the shipper handle to start the loom. The weaver then rubbed the cloth below the front breast beam to prevent the occurrence of a thin place. In preparation for the next cycle, the weaver took up the empty shuttle, pulled the shuttle-spindle out at an angle, removed the exhausted bobbin (or cop tube containing mule-spun yarns), put in a new supply of filling, pulled off a sufficient length of filling from the carrier, snapped the shuttle-spindle back into place, held the filling over the eye entrance with a finger, sucked the filling through the hole, and inserted the shuttle in its receptacle, where it remained until needed. Each weaver tended eight looms (increasingly the norm in New England by the mid-1890s) and was required to repeat these tasks once or twice every minute. (35)
Between 1840 and 1890 thirty-one patents were issued for inventions related to mechanized filling replenishment, eight in the United States and twenty-three in England, but none proved successful. (36) In the late 1880s, George Draper and Sons faced both the impending expiration of several key Sawyer spindle patents and renewed patent competition from the Whitin Machine Works. Patent royalties had provided the Drapers with a singularly large and liquid capital fund among textile machinery manufacturers. (37) In 1889 the company decided on a radical departure in new product development and committed "their large force of inventors and skilled mechanics" to experimentation in redesigning the common power loom. (38)
An important impetus to Draper inventive efforts came from a July 1888 visit by William F. Draper to Providence, Rhode Island, where he witnessed the operation of an automatic shuttle-changing loom. He later deemed that invention impractical, but he was prompted to begin an exhaustive investigation of existing patents. Draper Company inventors developed their own shuttle-changing looms and tested them at the Seaconnet Mills in Fall River in 1889. During these experiments, it occurred to James H. Northrop, a Draper employee, to change the bobbin in the shuttle while the loom continued weaving. Before the end of the year he had designed a self-threading shuttle, a bobbin with rings or corrugations on the base, spring jaws of grooved metal plate within the shuttle to grasp the bobbin rings, and a thread cutter to sever the thread trailing the bobbin after the first pick was laid. (39) By the end of 1891 Northrop had added a rotating battery (also known as the hopper or magazine) for holding the bobbins and a filling motion, a device to regulate the transfer of the bobbin from the battery to the shuttle when the filling was broken or exhausted. (40) These key patented inventions led the Drapers to organize the Northrop Loom Company in 1892, just as they had earlier established companies based on the patents and continued participation of Dutcher and Sawyer. In the case of Northrop's inventions, however, the entire endeavor was internally directed from the start. Thus, the new automatic loom, often referred to as the Draper loom, was originally known as the Northrop loom.
Marketing of the bobbin-changing loom was delayed several years, however, as George Draper and Sons found it necessary to develop a practical warp stop motion as well. As it turned out, "designing a suitable stop motion took longer and cost more than designing the battery." (41) The Drapers identified "every patent for a warp stop motion ever granted in this country or abroad"; they contacted the original patentees wherever possible, hiring the most promising or buying the patent rights. (42) An early explicit recognition of the importance of the warp stop motion to the progress of weaving experiments was stated by George Otis Draper (William's son) on 2 April 1892:
The way the matter lies: Our weavers average to tend six [automatic] looms apiece, and there is only one who I would dare to give more than his present allowance.
This looks bad when we used to count on a poor weaver running eight looms, and a good weaver, twelve.
The evident trouble is the watching. An ordinary loom stops so often a pickout does not have time to become so serious as ours, and I believe ours require more careful oversight per loom on that account alone. With the same number of looms this watching is more of a necessity, and to increase the number multiplies it. I am not at all sure after seeing the looms run that a perfect warp stop motion would not enable a weaver to get off more cloth than a filing changer, give him all the looms he wanted. (43)
Later company publications describe how the relief from the manual task of changing the filling made the weavers "uneasy," anticipating more broken warp yarns while tending more looms. The Drapers "saw it would be absolutely necessary to furnish protection in the way of an accurate warp stop motion, so that there would be no mental anxiety or necessity for alert observation." (44) The Drapers believed that a successful automatic loom would double the number of looms tended by each weaver, but only if a mechanism that would replace the monitoring as well as the manual tasks formerly done by the weaver could be developed.
The filling changer thus gave impetus to efforts to redesign the warp stop motions, which had been little changed since the 1860s, when forty to fifty patents for such mechanisms had been granted. They were made of round wire, suitable for use in weaving only the coarsest cloth. The 1890s Draper experiments introduced warp stop motions of extremely thin wire, and the company began developing applications for weaving with finer warp yarns and closer weaves. (45) The newly designed stop motion was attractive because it did not complicate or increase the cost of drawing-in, but it was limited to simple (two-harness) weaves. Drop wire devices were soon developed to apply to individual warp yarns or to serve two or more at the same time. By early 1895 the Drapers felt ready to market the Northrop loom devices on a large scale.
Early Loom Marketing and Integrated Production
The history of the production of automatic looms is fundamentally a story of how establishing a mass market accelerated integration backward into mass production. When it organized the Northrop Loom Company in 1892, the Draper Company had very limited manufacturing capacity at Hopedale. The Drapers therefore hoped to reproduce arrangements similar to those of the spindle patent pool, and they secured licensing agreements with six major loom manufacturers, under which Draper would receive royalties for the use of its patents on automatic loom attachments. (46) In particular, the Draper Company expected to manufacture filling-changers and warp stop motions for use on looms manufactured by the other companies.
The Draper Company had an extensive history of marketing replacement temples and spindles directly to mills, but the novelty of the Northrop loom's automatic features and its higher price--triple that of the common loom--required a dramatic introduction to break down sales resistance. As the company history described the situation, "They had to buy mills of their own to prove to other textile manufacturers that their new loom could be successfully operated under regular mill conditions." (47)
On the announcement of the availability of the new automatic loom, the Drapers received orders for several thousand before the looms ever ran in outside mills. Despite this interest, however, they encountered unanticipated difficulties in marketing the filling and warp stop motions. The early period of experimentation and product development had brought frustrations both in relations with mill management and weavers and with design and materials. At Seaconnet, there were accounts of recurring loom stoppage due to broken parts, especially shuttles, during the experiments, and there were two episodes of direct union opposition. (48) In the spring of 1891, the Draper Company was concentrating on the development of the bobbin-changer, and they transferred the testing of their new mechanisms from Fall River to the Pacific Mills in Lawrence. (49) Later, from November 1892 until 1894, the focus of testing was a weave room of eighty looms in Draper's own machine company at Hopedale. (50) Success in an experimental environment, however, was not sufficient to overcome industry skepticism in the face of possible equipment failure, union opposition, and the higher price of the Northrop loom.
The Drapers had already incurred high fixed costs during the stages of invention and development, but they decided to assume even greater capital risks in order to market the loom (see Table 3). The Drapers subscribed to $50,000 worth of shares in the first mill fully equipped with Draper looms, the Queen City Cotton Mill, in Burlington, Vermont. The site was chosen in part because, as the Drapers expressed it to Burlington city officials, "there are no labor organizations in Vermont to lead them and others into trouble." (51) The Queen City Cotton Company began full operation on 1 May 1895, and, though there were three strikes in five years despite the lack of unions, management had a much freer hand to adjust piece rates to capture productivity gains in the nonunion environment than they would have had in the unionized textile centers of southern Massachusetts. (52)
By establishing a mill under their direct control, the Drapers simultaneously presented a demonstration of the loom's reliability to the rest of the industry and gained a closely controlled proving ground for further development of both the machine and labor practices. They were able to demonstrate that the Northrop loom would lower production costs, by dramatically increasing the number of looms a single weaver could tend, to a degree that would more than compensate for the initial high investment.
The Queen City Cotton Mill demonstrated the commercial viability of weaving with the new looms. However, the strategy of licensing the use of Draper motions to other loom builders was not successful. Most of the early orders were directed to the Draper Company itself for Northrop looms manufactured at its own facility, and sales of components to other loom manufacturers under licensing arrangements were never considerable.
The Whitin Machine Works and the Lowell Machine Shop objected to the high royalty fee, equivalent to the full price of a plain loom, and to a contract clause requiring them to sign over to Draper all improvements added to the Northrop looms they manufactured, although such an arrangement was not unusual at that time or later. (53) The other four loom manufacturers agreed to cooperate, but in a February 1897 letter to the Whitin front office, selling agent Stuart Cramer assessed the situation: "The Drapers are pushing the loom for all it is worth and it seems to be doing well, yet it is not being bought in the North. Again several of the Northern shops have been licensed to build the loom, but they don't build it and they don't try to sell it." (54)
The Whitin Machine Works did manufacture a significant proportion of all their looms sold from 1895 to 1900 according to customer specification that the loom be fitted for a "shuttle box for Draper Motion." Few of the Whitin looms, however, were ever actually fitted with Draper attachments, and after 1901 they built no more looms fitted for Draper motions (see Table 4). Why did the market coordination of Whitin looms and Draper attachments break down in this way? Although the innovations were dramatic, the Queen City Cotton Mill had demonstrated their practicality.
A likely explanation of the resistance from rival loom manufacturers lies in their recognition that the Drapers had the basis to appropriate the present and future lion's share of the profits from innovation. Unlike the case of the high-speed spindle, when Whitin reserved the right to manufacture its own spindles for new frames, loom manufacturers were not going to get the opportunity to produce the Northrop mechanisms. Whitin could thus never develop the resources necessary for independent patent development and the leverage to assure a return on any substantial investment in modifying the Whitin loom to take the Draper motion.
By 1899 the Draper Company had concluded that other manufacturers would not push the automatic loom, and it decided to build a plant capable of meeting the entire national market for single-shuttle looms. (55) As a consequence, the period of most rapid change in the Northrop loom, after its initial development, was during the early years of manufacturing in Hopedale, from 1899 to 1906.
On developing their manufacturing capacity, the Drapers found that the quality of performance of the Northrop attachments was superior to the operation of the rest of the loom. Between 1899 and 1903 they redesigned several of the basic loom motions, making their loom, even without Northrop attachments, superior to those of competitors (see Table 5). Furthermore, in about 1903 the Draper loom models also incorporated several improvements in other loom mechanisms, dramatically improving cost competitiveness through technical changes. To select only the most important example, the Draper Company thought that the development of a new take-up mechanism, considerably enlarging the capacity of the cloth roll and thereby reducing the frequency and labor cost of cloth doffing (removing full rolls of cloth), would alone give its loom an edge over the competition. (56)
The Drapers' expansion program did more than increase their manufacturing capacity in order to satisfy national demand. They simultaneously consolidated their organization as an integrated producer of all parts required for loom manufacturing and improved the quality of the loom by incorporating the best-known manufacturing practices from the United States and abroad. (57)
When they began manufacturing looms, the Draper Company, like other loom builders, had been organized more like a job shop than as a mass producer. The typical method of manufacture of looms began with the construction of a loom sample to order. The parts were made from rough castings and "unfinished" joints. To run properly, the machine parts required further "fixing." The rest of the loom order was then built according to sample specifications. The 1904-5 foundry facilities of the Draper Company included new molding machines that allowed superior milling of loom frames. The cost of these machines required an investment that the Draper Company was confident no other loom manufacturer could afford. With the use of these and other modern machine tools, Draper produced increasingly standardized parts and cut gears, and they were able to end the practice of sample loom construction. The greater "harmony" and "uniformity" in the operation of the various loom parts not only resulted in lower repair costs, but probably also reduced yarn breakages by decreasing strain and friction. (58) By 1905 the Draper Company's major improvements in loom design and construction were complete.
Draper Patent Control
In 1897 the Drapers had absorbed all of their Hopedale enterprises except the Sawyer Spindle Company into the newly incorporated Draper Company and established a centralized experimental staff. By 1900, the closely held Draper Company owned thirty-one patents for bobbin filling-changers, of which twenty-seven had been developed within the firm, and sixty-seven warp stop motion patents, involving forty-seven intrafirm patentees (eight separate inventors) and twenty-four extrafirm patentees (twelve inventors). (59) However, the total scale of loom-related inventive activity controlled by the Drapers went far beyond these two essential mechanisms.
On three occasions, in 1896, 1900, and 1904, the Draper Company published information indicating the breadth and depth of its control of loom-related patents, listing the names of the inventors and the number of patents issued to each. (60) By identifying the inventors "directly employed" by the Draper-controlled companies and the patents they were issued (and then assigned to their employer), the number of patents acquired internally can be compared to the purchase of patent rights from independent inventors. Most of the rapidly accumulating extrafirm patent rights acquired by the Drapers were from new sources. Between 1900 and mid-1904, seventy-seven newly listed extrafirm inventors were responsible for 173 of a total of 195 loom-related patent rights sold to the Drapers during this period.
The top five in-house inventors continued to generate the bulk of the patentable inventions developed internally throughout the period. The key inventors were William F. Draper and his son, George O. Draper, along with employees C. F. Roper, E. S. Stimpson, and most important, the principal inventor and developer, James H. Northrop. The total number of patents granted these five inventors made them responsible for 90, 79, and 63 percent of all in-house loom-related patentees cited in 1896, 1900, and 1904, respectively. These inventors were responsible for 48 percent of the total of 178 new Draper in-house loom patentees from 1900 to mid-1904.
In their efforts to increase their market and to protect it from competitors, the Drapers committed themselves to further substantial growth in the scale of in-house industrial research around the turn of the century, and they also continued to increase their acquisition of patent rights from extrafirm inventors. From 1901 to 1907, the Draper Company gained control of an additional 718 patents, 45 percent from in-house inventors. By 1907 the cumulative total of patents acquired by the Draper Company rose to 2,070, of which 1,330 were still active and enforceable. (61)
Although the Drapers' major commitment in product development after 1890 was clearly the automatic loom, they also continued to channel resources to patent acquisition in other areas. Presumably spindle and temple product development, especially for technical changes complementary to automatic weaving, received much of the remaining resources. The Draper Company's patent acquisition peaked in 1903 and 1904, and the firm's patent activity relative to the rest of American industry was at its zenith. The 1904 annual report of the Commisioner of Patents listed 55 inventors who assigned patents to the Draper Company, a number greater only at General Electric (134), with Westinghouse and affiliates a close third (46) and the rest of American businesses relatively far behind. The rate of invention controlled by the Draper Company in the first decade of the twentieth century was all the more remarkable because its scale of manufacture did not approach that of the other leading research companies. (62)
The patent data suggest that the proportion of loom-related patents acquired from extrafirm inventors was increasing during this period, so that in the early 1900s the Draper company acquired roughly equal numbers of patent rights from its own and outside inventors. However, these proportions understate the extent of direct control that the Drapers exerted over inventive and patent activity, because the Draper Company coordinated the invention and patent process to a significant degree even when it acquired patent rights from extrafirm inventors. According to the company's policy and descriptions, the patent sale was far from an arm's-length transaction:
We always prefer to acquire an invention before it has been patented, as we are unwilling to trust to the ordinary methods by which patents are obtained. It is impossible for the average patent attorney to grasp all the possibilities in any single line like this, for the majority have never been in a cotton mill, and few of course are educated as to the state of the art, or the detail of the necessities of operation.
...the value of the patent, however, independent of whether the evice works well, depends largely upon the nature of the description or specification in the patent, and the claims that are allowed. Unless the claims are carefully drawn to cover just what is new and patentable, it may be possible to evade the patent by a slightly different construction. There is absolutely no remedy for an improperly prepared patent.... (63)
Table 6 summarizes the scale of ongoing inventive activity taking place within the Draper Company for loom-related R&D (for 1900 through mid-1904) and for total R&D (for 1901 through 1906). Although the periods summarized are unequal in duration and incompletely overlapping, the data conservatively indicate the number of inventors involved in R&D at the Draper Company, their relative scale of patent activity, and the proportion that was directly committed to developing the Northrop loom. Clearly, the Draper Company was built around the development of patentable inventions. As in other mechanical sectors, a significant number of the in-house patentees were no doubt sales, service, and production personnel, but on the basis of the evidence in Table 6, we can conclude that the Draper Company maintained a research, engineering, and product development staff of at least twenty people by the early twentieth century. Even this conservative estimate places the Draper Company in the forefront of companies that committed personnel resources to research and development.
Loom Competition and Patent Litigation
No other textile machinery company was able to mount a significant challenge to the Northrop loom. There were only twelve loom manufacturers in the United States, including the Drapers, in the 1890s. (64) By the early 1900s, five new companies had attempted to market automatic filling-changing looms. Only one ongoing loom manufacturer, the Crompton Loom Works, attempted to market an "automatic" loom, and they soon withdrew their loom from the market. One of the five new firms was bought out by the Draper Company and three others failed. The sole survivor was the American Loom Company, soon to be reorganized as the Stafford Loom Company, which manufactured an automatic shuttle-changing loom. (65)
Although its control of Northrop loom patents was overwhelming and the competition was weak, the Draper Company was as aggressive as ever in repeatedly and forcefully stating its intention to litigate against patent infringement. The early cash reserves secured by spindle patent royalties increased the company's ability to bear the costs of litigation and made the threat of legal action all the more effective. Indeed, by 1906 the company could boast of a record of continuous patent litigation against infringers for the previous thirty-five years that was "aggressive, persistent and almost uniformly successful." (66) Draper soon added to its record of legal victories, as it sued the Stafford Loom Company, a shuttle manufacturer, and others. (67) The lawsuits against the Stafford Company merit brief review to document the persistent use of patent litigation against this sole survivor among contemporary loom competitors.
Sales figures are not available, but all accounts indicate that the Stafford Company never gained a significant share of the loom market. As the Draper experimental staff discovered, the mechanical problems of automatically changing the shuttle were greater than those of changing the bobbin in the shuttle. In addition, the Stafford shuttle-changer was a slower loom; it came to a full stop when the shuttles were changed, and refilling shuttles required more time than refilling batteries. Still, shuttle-changing looms were developed in England, and in Japan a shuttle-changing loom made by Toyoda (the forerunner of Toyota Motor Corporation) was a more widely used automatic loom than the bobbin-changing type. (68) Hence the Drapers monitored developments at Stafford carefully.
The patents controlled by Draper were the basis for three separate suits against the Stafford Company that extended, respectively, from 1901 to 1911, from 1909 to 1918, and from 1912 to 1919. (69) The constraints of staying clear of Draper Company patents and, where that was not possible, bearing the costs, uncertainty, and consequences of patent litigation contributed to the Stafford Loom Company's limited growth. A small niche competitor specializing in fine yarn weaving, Stafford was ultimately absorbed by Draper (reincorporated as the Draper Corporation in 1916) amid the Depression in 1932.
Furthermore, the likelihood of similar difficulties effectively deterred the entry of powerful potential competitors. The Whitin Machine Works, the largest producer of cotton textile machinery in the United States, was also the producer of the highest-priced nonautomatic loom on the market. Of all American loom manufacturers, it was likely to lose the most in competition with the Draper automatic loom. In 1898 Whitin executives were telling customers that they were slowly perfecting an automatic loom, but the company in fact never directed its experimental staff's attention in that direction. When independent inventors approached Whitin with various devices to make plain-goods looms automatic, the company decided that the inventions either would not operate adequately under mill conditions or would not stand clear of Draper Company patents, particularly Northrop's broadly drawn patent claims. (70)
Market Penetration and Market Control
By 1907 a majority of Draper's top management were confident that they had developed the Northrop loom sufficiently to ensure its conquest of the market for single-shuttle looms for both new mills and loom replacements. The rapid growth in production capacity at Hopedale certainly reflected the Drapers' confidence in future growth in loom sales. The pattern of diffusion and adoption of the Draper loom can be briefly summarized. (71)
In 1899 there were more than 113,000 looms in place in the southern United States. The greatest absolute increase in the South's cotton textile capacity (measured by looms in place) occurred in the next ten years, and the growth in production was based on the Draper loom. In the first five years of the century, the sales of Northrop looms to the South were equivalent to 54 percent of the region's growth in capacity. Between 1904 and 1909, the sales of Northrop looms in every major textile-producing southern state exceeded the net growth in capacity. Not only had the Draper Company captured the fastest-growing segment of the national market, but it was also securing a large share of the replacement market in the newer region.
Most historians agree on the overriding importance of southern labor cost advantages, but there is no similar agreement on the other factors that impeded or accelerated the pace and progress of the industry's relocation, notably the relative labor, managerial, financial, and technical advantages of the two regions for producing various types of cloth. (72) Central controversies relate to the suitability of the Northrop loom for weaving a wider range of cloth types and its cost advantages over common looms already in place. In 1900 three-quarters of existing U.S. loom capacity remained outside the South, and the number of looms in New England cotton textile mills would increase an additional 27 percent before the region's loom capacity peaked in 1914. The outlook for the Northrop loom's penetration of the New England market therefore continued to be an important part of the Draper Company's calculations.
Early in the twentieth century, there were greater technical difficulties in adapting the Draper automatic mechanisms for fancy weaves (which the Drapers were in the process of accomplishing) and multi-shuttle weaves (which Crompton-Knowles made automatic). By 1907, Draper looms were powerfully placed in the replacement market for plain single-shuttle looms in every New England state and in all the larger textile centers except for the two largest concentrations of cotton textile production--Fall River and New Bedford in southern Massachusetts. The share of national weaving capacity in these two cities remained constant at 21 percent of all looms in the nation from 1899 to 1919. Yet, by 1909, the proportion of all looms accounted for by Northrops was only 4 percent in Fall River and 6 percent in New Bedford, and their rates of adoption of Northrops would continue to lag far behind rates in the rest of New England.
Why did these southern Massachusetts mills persist in their use of common looms? What were the prospects for foreseeable technical improvements that would open up the two largest loom markets to Draper on a scale comparable to its success in the rest of the country? What shifts in automatic loom design and construction would be necessary to meet or beat the costs that firms incurred by adapting common looms to various uses?
The pattern of labor relations, wages, and productivity permitted continued adaptation by most of the Fall River mills in their efforts to lower costs on the common loom. (73) However, this ability to lower unit labor costs was limited and sustained competitiveness only where the Fall River mills already had a competitive advantage: in the custom-order cloth market. The importance of this market for Fall River and New Bedford had resulted in a distinctive organization of marketing compared to the rest of the industry. From the start, most southern Massachusetts mills sold their own goods and were not represented by the commission houses. (74) Originally producing staple print cloth of unvarying construction, the mills sold directly to merchant-converters, who subcontracted with printers to finish the cloth and then distributed to wholesale and retail units, or to printers "converting" the goods on their own account. Southern New England towns had a transportation cost advantage that promoted their development as textile centers and structured their marketing orientation. The mills were close to the finishing establishments centered in Rhode Island, and steamboat lines could deliver goods in less than a day to New York jobbers. (75)
The fundamental change in the industry's marketing organization from 1880 until the 1920s was the growing importance of the merchant converter. The converter's basic function was to develop new styles and fabrics accompanying the growth of new markets, primarily the growth of garment manufacturing. (76) The number of converters in New York increased from 108 to 181 between 1907 to 1911, and there were 385 converters based in New York by 1927. (77)
The industry trade journal, Textile World, commented on the changing market organization in 1907:
It is interesting to note that in the rapid growth of the converting business we are following closely the long established English methods of transacting the cotton goods busines. . . . The converting houses work at their own styles, plan the construction of the fabrics, place their orders for the goods in the grey through brokers by specifications, and send the goods to be bleached, dyed, printed or finished, and finally sell them under their trade-mark names. (78)
The extensive product diversification that came with the increased role of the converter developed along several dimensions: cloth width, fineness of yarn, and fancy patterns. Product diversification was a response to changes in general market conditions and to growing southern competition in coarse and medium standard cloths. The expansion in fine and fancy mills largely took place through construction of new mills and enlargement of existing fine and fancy mills, not through scrapping and replacement in mills making coarser products. In Fall River, the greater absolute expansion in diversified production until 1910 came in new mills and print cloth mills producing more varied products with medium rather than fine-count yarn. (79)
In Fall River, in particular, an increasing proportion of products classified as print cloth were known as "odd goods." Odd goods varied from standard print cloth in width, number of threads per inch, or yarn count. Although generally made from yarns in the medium-count print cloth range, odd goods also included cloth made with finer yarns. They were not specialty products, but frequent variation in thread count and cloth construction required more attention in operating and managing the mills that produced them. Also, since selling odd goods required greater sensitivity to changes in demand, it also required close contact with the market. (80)
The mills in Fall River that had originally been built to make only print cloth easily adapted their facilities to make odd goods like gauze (made with print cloth yarns but with fewer yarns per square inch), fancy shirtings, and even fine goods. Though the costs of making the necessary physical adjustments in equipment are not available, they were not so great that conversion back to print cloth production in a favorable market would be uneconomical. In fact, Seth Hammond, attempting to chronicle the shift in the type of cloth produced by the Fall River mills, noted that the mills frequently produced print cloth even after having turned to other products. (81)
Variety in cloth production did, however, cause greater increase in costs on Northrop looms relative to ordinary looms. The initial investment in labor and material to adapt equipment may not have been prohibitive, but the increasee downtime due to changeovers was more costly on the more expensive loom. On one occasion of a favorable shift in the price of staple print cloth compared to cloth of "non-standard [yarn] counts," it was estimated that it would take over three weeks to complete a changeover and turn off regular cloth on Northrop looms. (82) The costs of downtime and lost production were also greater on Northrops because for some applications the adjusted looms could not produce the different cloth style as successfully as the one they were constructed to turn out. (83)
The nature of the odd goods production gaining importance in the Fall River and New Bedford area meant that the Draper Company was unlikely to develop a technology that would make the Northrop loom sufficiently adaptable and cost-effective to penetrate this market, at least not without a sizable and appropriately targeted R&D effort.
Internal Conflicts and Shifts in Strategic Policy
Against this background, a growing conflict over basic business strategy came to a head within the company in 1907. The Draper Company had completely integrated production and had capacity adequate to meet industry demand. The firm had gained sufficient control of loom-related inventive activity within and outside the firm to attain two goals. The technical development of the automatic loom had progressed to make it applicable to almost all single-shuttle weaves and, except in southern New England mills, there were clear indications that the company had successfully opened the market for replacing common looms with Northrops. In the case of the one-fifth of the industry located in Fall River and New Bedford, there was little prospect for significant near-term inroads through further technical innovation. Moreover, once Draper had successfully penetrated all other markets for new looms, the company's market share and profit rate would increasingly depend on the growth in sales for replacement parts and supplies.
In addition, their three-pronged strategy of in-house research, market acquisition of competing and complementary patents, and aggressive patent litigation limited the potential for competitors to survive, much less to capture any of the returns to the Drapers' technical innovations. All competitors except Stafford had been vanquished, and its threat appeared inconsequential.
Alternative strategies were advocated by two management groups. The first included William F. Draper, who had initiated the company's commitment to the development of the Northrop loom, and his two sons. George Otis Draper had supervised most of the early development of the Northrop loom, and his younger brother Clare Draper was most active in furthering its technical development. The heart of their organizational priorities was centered in the Draper Experiment Committee, which pursued new product development. The opposition was led by the other senior Drapers, William's two brothers--Eben S. Draper, the top marketing executive, and George A. Draper, the treasurer and the corporate officer with "full responsibility for the financial affairs of the company." They wished to expand the profitability of sales to both primary and secondary markets by increasingly standardizing production. The older Drapers secured majority support from the nine-member board of directors when they gained the votes of three minority shareholders and directors: Joseph Bancroft, his son Eben D. Bancroft, and Frank Dutcher.
The early steps taken to redirect business strategy included the disbanding of the Experiment Committee and the ouster of William Draper as president of the company in July 1907. (84) A general exodus of the company officials and inventors responsible for the development of the Draper looms up to that time soon followed. George Otis and Clare Draper left the company, and they took with them four employee-inventors, including two of the company's top three inventors--Charles Roper, who had been instrumental in the design of warp stop motions, and Jonas Northrop, who had assumed the position of chief loom inventor after his brother James left the company in 1898. The seven officials and employees who left the Draper Company had been issued 328 patents by 1907, and they constituted nearly one-third of all intrafirm patentees who ever assigned patent rights to the company. Clearly, the remaining Draper management viewed a great deal of talent for innovation as expendable in their desire to pursue an alternative course of business. (85)
Those left in control decided "to continue certain standard machinery unchanged" and to pursue sales in the secondary market for supplies, replacement parts, and repairs. (86) Joseph Bancroft was elected president, clearly an interim measure, for at eighty-six he served less than two years before his death. The key managers and inventors assuming control over the direction of research and engineering development were Frank Dutcher, E. S. Stimpson, his son Wallace I. Stimpson, and Alonzo E. Rhoades. Bancroft was succeeded by Frank Dutcher, who had started as an apprentice to his father at the W. W. Dutcher Temple Company, then served as treasurer of that company for twenty years until becoming assistant agent to Eben S. Draper in 1896. Dutcher served as president of the company for twenty years and then as chairman for two more years, until his death in 1930. For all of his last twenty-two years Frank Dutcher also served as the supervisor of the Department of Patents.
The most accomplished inventor-employee retained by the Draper Company was E. S. Stimpson, who had been foreman in charge of manufacturing at the W. W. Dutcher Temple Company for thirty years. Stimpson had been issued seventy patents assigned to the Draper Company before 1907, most involving improved weaving mechanisms. As the senior member of the experimental staff, he assumed a central role in directing the continuing development of the Northrop loom, and he went on to patent an additional ninety-one inventions before his death in 1924. Wallace I. Stimpson also began his employment at W. W. Dutcher, and he was one of the company's most successful salesmen for twenty-five years. He succeeded Eben S. Draper as agent of the Draper Company in 1914, and he later assumed charge of the further improvement of the Draper looms. (87)
Alonzo E. Rhoades was the most prolific inventor in the history of the Draper Corporation. The first inventor assigned to develop an automatic loom for Draper, he had concentrated on the more traditional shuttle-changing approach; he was reassigned to nonweaving mechanisms after James H. Northrop succeeded with his bobbin-changing designs. Prior to 1907 Rhoades had secured fifty-three patents (almost all nonweaving) assigned to the Draper Company, after which his inventions were overwhelmingly loom-related. He obtained an additional 258 patents between 1907 and 1927. (88)
The top executives asserting control over corporate strategy had witnessed at least seventeen years of continuous investment in new product development. To the investment in R&D were added the costs of marketing the new looms (including the financing of new mills) and the costs of rapid expansion of capacity sufficient to produce 25,000 looms annually. A second stage of expansion, with a net addition of 40 percent of the final foundry capacity, was made in response to high sales in 1900 and 1902. The subsequent slowdown in sales, linked as always to a volatile textile trade cycle and an uneven rate of mill expansion, must have given these company officers reason to reconsider their commitment to continual large-scale innovation (see Figure 1).
The Draper Company had also taken steps to develop sales to the secondary market. In 1902, they purchased 30,000 acres of New Hampshire timberland and built nearby facilities for seasoning wood and manufacturing bobbin blanks. (89) In 1906 the Draper Company opened a southern office and supply warehouse in Atlanta, Georgia, as "more or less of an experiment." Their initial concern was to discourage mill customers from getting crude, local castings for repair parts, which diminished loom performance and consequently tarnished the Draper Company's reputation. Using the original Draper patterns avoided the problem of otherwise inevitable metal shrinkage in molds patterned from machine parts. The southern office's immediate success led to its enlargement within the year to provide a full line of loom parts locally. (90)
With the ability to define an industry standard without a challenger on the horizon, the Draper Company could maximize profits by controlling its costs and by increasing the combined sales of the new loom and replacement parts. Standardization assured greater manufacturing economics of throughput by increasing the utilization of already existing specialized assets. The firm could turn from a strategy dominated by innovation to a more adaptive strategy of farming the assets accumulated in the era of rapid innovation. The human and capital resources remaining within the firm could still aim at new product development, but now within the constraint of complementarity with the standard loom designs. The patent strategy was likely to be even more defensive to guard against encroachment by investors focusing on the secondary markets for supplies and replacement parts.
The direction of product development was placed in the hands of managers who had risen to executive positions largely through the temple division. These key personnel provided continuity and extensive experience in manufacturing and sales, and they had learned how to maintain monopoly control even as patent control subsided in relative importance. After 1907 the number of new patents related to the Northrop loom assigned to the company dwindled, providing clear evidence of their decision to decrease the firm's efforts at technical innovation (set Table 7). Ironically, the most severe test of their organizational performance came from the officers and inventors ousted from the Draper Company.
William F. Draper died in January 1910, less than three years after his focused retirement from the Draper Company. Clare Draper inherited "a lot of loom patents and devices prepared by [William Draper] with assistance of Jonas Northrop." (19) Clare reluctantly sold these patent rights back to the Draper Company for one-third his asking price. The company next initiated negotiations with both Clare Draper and Jonas Northrop to convince them to forgo inventive efforts and other activities related to their past business in return for financial compensation. The negotiations quickly broke down, however, and the two remained fully independent actors.
In 1912, the year the original Northrop loom patent expired, Clare Draper and Jonas Northrop established the Hopedale Manufacturing Company under their own direction. They made their presence felt immediately. Their success in gaining warp stop motion orders prompted sharp price competition, and the prevailing prices on comparable motion dropped 50 percent. Their initial strategy was to sell automatic filling-changers to attach to looms "with twenty year's life left." The company explained that many cast iron looms could operate for fifty years. Although worn-out looms would be better replaced by automatic looms, Hopedale Manufacturing sold a set of "Nordray" attachments at one-third the price of a new loom that could "economically" convert looms with twenty years' life remaining for automatic weaving. (92) It also sold a smaller number of Nordray attachments on new Mason Machine Works looms until the company began selling its own complete Nordray looms in 1919. (93)
During this time the Draper Company continued to make good on its threats of aggressive legal action against patent infringement. First, in 1916, it gave notice by publishing the application dates of every Northrop loom patent still in effect (see Table 7). Patent protection was utilized in the secondary market as well. Each shipment of shuttles was packed with a notice announcing, "These shuttles are sold and licensed to be used only in looms made by Draper Company and its licensees. (94) The next year, the message was sent directly and forcefully to their challenging "offespring" as the Draper Company sued for infringement of a patent for a misthreating device, which ensured high cloth quality, that had originally been issued and assigned to its past managers and new competitors at the Hopedale Manufacturing Company. Hopedale had felt clear of Draper legal action because of mistakes in the original patent application, for which Jonas Northrop was the inventor of record. However, the Draper Company won a court victory that required Northrop to sign the reapplication forms. In another round of lawsuits, the Draper Company forced the mills that had purchased the invention from Hopedale Manufacturing to remove the misthreating devices from their looms. (95)
By 1920, at least 260 of the Draper Company's Northrop loom patents had expired, and the Hopedale Manufacturing Company was increasingly free to copy and improve on the Northrop loom design. In that year, Hopedale's first full year of deliveries, they shipped three thousand complete Nordray looms and had sufficient capacity to produce five thousand. Interestingly, the Hopedale Manufacturing Company made less than 2 percent of the looms in Fall River and New Bedford automatic by 1920, a rate that corroborates the view that a stronger commitment to technical innovation in automatic weaving mechanisms was insufficient to elicit their widespread adoption in southeastern Massachusetts. (96) Having only one-fifth the capacity of the Draper Corporation plant, the Hopedale Manufacturing Company continued more like a job order shop than a mass producer. They specialized in the production of custom-fit attachments for other manufacturers' loioms, which they referred to as their "own peculiar field." But as they established their capability for integrated loom manufacture, they did increase their production of relatively small runs of custom-order looms. (97)
As passing time depleted the Draper Company arsenal of key patents, they increasingly relied on the advantages of scale economies. Reducing prices was particularly important for maintaining their share of the secondary market, where a small firm could grab for a toehold in the marketplace as the Hopedale Manufacturing Company was beginning to do. For example, in 1923 Draper identified three frequently ordered shuttles as "standard shuttles." They established a policy of maintaining stocks in these models rather than producing for order and of giving price discounts on these and on any future shuttle ordered in sufficient volume to warrant designation as a "standard shuttle." (98)
The inventor-managers remaining at the Draper Company were highly talented inventors, but their inventive functions were constrained by both their own broader managerial responsibilities and the priorities of their colleagues. Whether these managers were more conservative by experience, socialization, or inclination, or just more accurate in anticipating the future, their strategy brought continued success in a more slowly expanding market.
The top managers at the Hopedale Manufacturing Company were by nature innovators, and certainly their previous roles in the shop culture of the Draper Company Experiment Committee reinforced these inclinations. On their own, they lacked the counteracting ballast of more conservative managers who might better prepare for rougher times ahead by first securing more predictable markets and steadier sales. The Hopedale Manufacturing Company continued operation until 1927, when the family division was bridged by Hopedale's absorption into the Draper Corporation, where Clare Draper was made a director. (99)
Conclusions and Implications
By the early 1930s, the Draper Corporation was the sole producer of single-shuttle looms, but it confronted renewed domestic and international technological competition with the development of shuttleless looms in the 1950s. Draper looms continued to dominate American markets, although they increasingly lagged technologically. Nevertheless, the company was still the largest loom producer in the world in the late 1960s. In 1967 Draper, the five hundredth largest U.S. corporationk, was acquired by the antecedent of Rockwell International, the twenty-seventh largest, and a very research-intensive company. Despite promises to infuse new technology into the Draper Division, however, by 1975 Rockwell had withdrawn significant financial support for R&D, choosing to concentrate on other areas for growth. (100)
How did a leader in industrial research, a firm that at an early date acted like a modern research-oriented firm, lose its capabilities for further related product development and diversification? Why did the Draper Corporation fail to sustain its early leadership in industrial research? In its later years, Draper's ultimate failure was due to its inability to succeed in export competition and to diversify into other mechanical sectors, failings that are often seen as symptomatic of the competitive failures afflicting many large mechanically based U.S. industries in the late twentieth century.
The problem of exporting Draper technology, which was so successful in textile mills in the United States, really begins with ring spinning. Although Draper led in the development of this innovation, British firms early on adapted ring spinning to their domestic conditions and soon dominated world exports of ring spindles and spinning frames. Draper did take a major share in the British Northrop Loom Company, a firm licensed to manufacture and sell automatic looms on overseas markets. But British Northrop never penetrated the British market significantly, and it was a major competitor in the principle markets in continental Europe only for a relatively brief period after the Second World War. Draper's experience was typical in the textile machinery industry, since at its peak in 1922 the U.S share of total world textile machinery exports was only 4 percent. (101)
The barriers to export market penetration were considerable. The poor performance of Draper in world markets despite its technological lead resulted from variations in the role of mechanization in international competition in different markets. The U.S. textile firms developed on the basis of high-wage, high-throughput technology, which required a high quality of cotton. The British developed a technology on the basis of lower-grade cotton inputs that was cost-competitive by offsetting low throughput with cheaper cotton and low wages. Japan's later success was based on adapting and developing relatively high-throughput mechanical technologies that could also utilize cheaper, low-grade cotton and low-wage labor. (102) Draper technology was not suitable for most foreign markets, and with a large home market, the company never developed the distinctive organizational and technical capabilities required to adapt its technology for foreign customers.
Relative insulation from foreign markets offered little stimulus to product development for export. But why were opportunities for domestic diversification into related sectors not pursued? The Toyoda Automatic Loom Company, the dominant Japanese textile machine manufacturer, became the foundation for Japan's largest automobile manufacturer. A cursory contrast of the Draper company and the Toyoda Automatic Loom works suggests that the limits to diversification probably do not lie in inherent limits to integrating technical and organizational capabilities developed in loom manufacture (or in advanced mechanical technology more broadly). In fact, Taiichi Ohno, the originator of the famed Toyota production system, credits experience with warp stop motions on automatic looms as central to organizational learning about the importance of designing self-regulating machinery. Yet the origins of this principle lay in the development of various stop motions at the Draper Company. (103)
When the senior Drapers reacted to the current market for their machinery and the state of the textile industry generally by concentrating on volume production of Northrop loom technology, they consolidated the success created by their years of innovation, but perhaps at the price of long-term competitive advantage. As George O. Draper, the dominant personality at the Hopedale Manufacturing Company, wrote in the early 1920s, "The [Draper Corporation] earnings made public in the intervening years certainly justify such policy for periodic application, but it leaves the path open for others to enter and for others to design the improvements which might have been made." (104)
(1) Leonard Reich, The Making of American Industrial Research (New York, 1985); David Mowery, "The Emergence and Growth of Industrial Research in American Manufacturing, 1899-1945" (Ph.D. diss., Stanford University, 1981); David Mowery and Nathan Rosenberg, Technology and the Pursuit of Economic Growth (New York, 1989), chaps. 3 and 4; Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., "From Industrial Laboratories to Departments of Research and Development," in The Uneasy Alliance: Managing the Productivity-Technology Dilemma, ed. Kim Clark, Robert H. Hayes, and Christopher Lorenz (Boston, Mass., 1985).
(2) H. Catling, The Spinning Mule (Newton Abbot, 1970), 37.
(3) David J. Jeremy, Transatlantic Industrial Revolution: The Diffusion of Textile Technologies between Britain and America, 1790-1830's (Cambridge, Mass., 1981).
(4) For a review of the technologies and institutional factors permitting continued expansion of the British cotton industry, see William Lazonick and William Mass, "The Performance of the British Cotton Industry, 1870-1913," Research in Economic History, ed. Paul Uselding, vol. 9 (Spring 1984); William Lazonick, "Industrial Organization and Technological Change: The Decline of the British Cotton Industry," Business History Review 57 (Summer 1983): 195-236; and William Mass and William Lazonick, "The British Cotton Industry and Competitive Advantage: The State of the Debates," Business History 32 (Oct. 1990): 9-65, also reprinted in International Competition and Strategic Response in the Textile Industry since 1870, ed. Mary B. Rose (London, 1991).
(5) George Gibb, The Saco-Lowell Shops (Cambridge, Mass., 1950), 169-70, 208-9; Thomas R. Navin, The Whitin Machine Works Since 1831 (Cambridge, Mass., 1950), 485-86.
(6) Gibb, Saco-Lowell Shops, 192, 214.
(7) Navin, Whitin Machine Works, 112-13.
(8) William F. Draper, Recollections of a Varied Career (Boston, Mass., 1908), 3-4; George O. Draper, Textile Texts, 2d ed. (Hopedale, Mass., 1903), 261; Cotton Chats, no. 1 (July 1901). Cotton Chats was the Draper Company house organ.
(9) Cotton Chats, no. 2 (Aug. 1901): The Boston Daily Evening Transcript ran the following advertisement on 24 July 1830:
NOTICE TO MANUFACTURERS
Draper's Patent Self-Moving Temples, are now in operation on all looms at Waltham and Lowell, also at various other factories. . . . Any person wishing to obtain said Temples can examine them at either of the above named Factories, or at the Counting Room of Mr. J.A. Lowell. . . .
Price of the Temples, including patent right, is $2 a pair. Any person desirous of purchasing may be supplied by the Boston Manufacturing Co. at Waltham. For the right to make them, apply to the subscriber at East Sudbury.
James Draper, Patentee
(10) For more on the early history of the Draper Company, its roots in Hopedale, and its origins in a Christian Socialist utopian community, see Adin Ballou, History of the Hopedale Community (Lowell, Mass., 1897); Barbara Louise Faulkner, "Adin Ballou and the Hopedale Community" (Ph. D. diss., Boston University, 1965); John S. Garner, The Model Company Town (Amherst, Mass., 1984).
(11) Adin Ballou, History of the Hopedale Community, 307, as cited by Garner, Model Company Town, 119.
(12) Garner, Model Company Town, 130, 132; Cotton Chats, no. 5 (Nov. 1901); Cotton Chats, no. 24 (1904); George O. Draper, Textile Texts, 2d ed. (1903), 6, 261.
(13) Garner, Model Company Town, 132; Cotton Chats, no. 73 (June 1908).
(14) Navin, Whitin Machine Works, 108, 239-40, 485-87; Gibb, Saco-Lowell Shops, 761-62.
(15) Navin, Whitin Machine Works, 91-93; Gibb, Saco-Lowell Shops, 203, 230.
(16) Navin, Whitin Machine Works, 41.
(17) W. F. Draper, Recollections, 179-80; Cotton Chats, no. 36 (1905).
(18) Navin, Whitin Machine Works; see chaps. 10 and 12 for the history of the relations between the Whitin and the Draper companies. The earliest American patent pool, controlling sewing machine patents, was established in 1856; see David Hounshell, From the American System to Mass Production, 1800-1932 (Baltimore, Md., 1984), chap. 2 and p. 71.
(19) George Draper, "Let-Off Motions for Looms," New England Cotton Manufacturers' Association, no. 8 (Boston, Mass., 1870).
(20) Navin, Whitin Machine Works, 112.
(21) G. O. Draper, Textile Texts, 2d ed. (1903), 6-7, 179-80; Gibb, Saco-Lowell Shops, 632; Navin, Whitin Machine Works, 535.
(22) Navin, Whitin Machine Works, 184, 591n9.
(23) Ibid., 186.
(24) Edith Penrose, The Economics of the International Patent System (Baltimore, Md., 1951), 104-5, 191; Alfred E. Kahn, "Fundamental Deficiencies of American Patent Law," American Economic Review 30 (1940): 482-87.
(25) Navin, Whitin Machine Works, 190-96.
(26) Ibid., 198, 189-203.
(27) W. F. Draper, Recollections, 183.
(28) Gibb, Saco-Lowell Shops, 263.
(29) G. O. Draper, Textile Texts, 2d ed. (1903), 144.
(30) W. F. Draper, Recollections, 184.
(31) G. O. Draper, Textile Texts, 2d 3d. (1903), 142-43.
(32) Navin, Whitin Machine Works, 181.
(33) Digest of Assignment of Property Rights in Patents, D. no. 12, 21 March 1895 to 7 Aug. 1897, 240-41, RG 241, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
(34) In 1903 the Draper Company reported that the average per-patent costs associated with the 679 patents developed in-house since Ira Draper's first were: $100 for "fees and legal expenses," $200 for "incidental expenses and litigation," and at least $1,000 for "experiments." G. O. Draper, Textile Texts, 2d ed. (1903), 308.
(35) Draper Corporation pamphlet, "The Advance of the Northrop Loom" (1900), 10 (Hopedale Public Library).
(36) George O. Draper, History of the Northrop Loom Evolution, vol. 1, 1886-1892 (Milford, Mass., 1897), 156-57. Of the other twenty-three English patents, nine were issued between 1864 and 1866. George Otis Draper kept a daily record of machine developments and experimentation, including the results of investigations of related patent claims. Three volumes are referred to but I have found only volume 1. Together they would provide an abundance of information about the evolution of loom design.
(37) Thomas R. Navin, "Innovation and Management Policies--The Textile Machine Industry: Influence of the Market on Management," Bulletin of the Business Historical Society 25 (Spring 1951): 18n3.
(38) William Chase, Five Generations of Loom Builders (Hopedale, Mass., 1950), 13.
(39) The bobbin rings and "peculiar" spring inside the shuttle were the key inventions among the many embodied in the redesigned automatic loom. These patents prevented the successful development of any alternative patentable bobbin-changing devices. See Transactions of the New England Cotton Manufacturers Association (hereafter NECMA) 113 (Oct. 1922): 117.
(40) This stage of development is reported in Chase, Five Generations of Loom Builders, 13-15, and George O. Draper, Labor Saving Looms, 1st ed. (Hopedale, Mass., 1904), 22-24; G. O. Draper. History of the Northrop Loom Evolution, vol. 1.
(41) G. O. Draper, Labor Saving Looms, 1st ed. (1904), 25.
(42) Chase, Five Generations of Loom Builders, 15.
(43) G. O. Draper, History of the Northrop Loom Evolution, 1: 423.
(44) G. O. Draper, Textile Texts, 1st ed. (1901), 11.
(45) Henry I. Harriman, Transactions of NECMA 68 (April 1900): 318-19.
(46) The agreements were with Whitin Machine Works, Mason Machine Works, Lowell Machine Shop, the Lewiston Machine Works, Kilburn, Lincoln and Company, and Knowles Loom Company. Jonathan T. Lincoln, "Cotton Textile Machinery--American Loom Builders," Harvard Business Review 12 (Oct. 1933): 101-2; Navin, Whitin Machine Works, 274; see also Lincoln, "The Cotton Textile Machine Industry," Harvard Business Review 11 (Oct. 1932).
(47) Chase, Five Generations of Loom Builders, 15. As the Drapers sought to break down resistance to later loom models in various industry submarkets, they assumed the role of mill organizers on four later occasions.
(48) G. O. Draper, History of the Northrop Loom Evolution, 1: 147, 220.
(49) G. O. Draper, "The Present Development of the Northrop Loom," Transactions of NECMA 59 (1895): 90; G. O. Draper, Labor Saving Looms, 1st ed. (1904), 25.
(50) G. O. Draper, "Present Development," 90.
(51) Burlington Free Press, 5 May 1894; the Drapers also expected lower coal costs and freight rates than in Massachusetts, and that the cost of construction of the mill would be 10 percent less; Burlington Free Press, 16 Ma6 1894. A British observer, reporting to the Manchester Guardian about the U.S. textile industry in 1903-4, wrote, "The reason given me was that in Vermon they could get cheap labour, and there was no factory laws and no unions to give trouble over the trial of a new machine." T. W. Uttley, Cotton Spinning and Manufacturing in the United States of America (Manchester, 1905), 21.
(52) T. D. Seymour Bassett and David Blow, "The Lakeside Story, 1894-1948," Chittendon County Historical Society Bulletin 7 (May 1972); Burlington Free Press, 11, 13, 22, 24 Jan. 1898; 4-5, 10-11, 16-17, 19 April, 14 May 1900.
(53) Navin, Whitin Machine Works, 274; Gibb, Saco- Lowell Shops, 769n29.
(54) William F. Draper, comment, Transactions of NECMA 60 (April 1896): 133; Navin, Whitin Machine Works, 275.
(55) Navin, Whitin Machine Works, 275-76.
(56) William F. Draper, Transactions of NECMA 74 (1903): 170. The increase in the capacity of the cloth roll of course added to its weight, thus increasing the strength requirement for removing the cloth from the loom. This was possibly an important factor in the increase in male weavers that accompanied the introduction of the automatic loom, particularly in the South, but it is unlikely to have been the sole cause of the changing gender division of labor in the weave room.
(57) Navin, Whitin Machine Works, 275-76.
(58) Cotton Chats, no. 31 (Sept. 1904), which explained that the price of the Northrop loom was originally based on looms per weaver increasing from eight to sixteen. The price had been unchanged (and would remain a fixed list price until 1916), though the loom's "efficiency" had been increased. The Drapers claimed that new attachments and other improvements increased their manufacturing costs by $15 per loom. Cotton Chats, no. 38 (April 1905); no. 137 (March 1914); no. 249 (Feb. 1924); April 1952 (available as a mimeograph in the "Little Red Shop," Hopedale, Mass.).
(59) Draper Company, "Advance of the Northrop Loom," 58-59.
(60) G. O. Draper, Facts and Figures for Textile Manufacturers (Hopedale, Mass., 1896), 176-77; Draper Company, "Advance of the Northrop Loom," 58-59; G. O. Draper, Labor Saving Loom,s 1st ed. (1904), 208-11.
(61) G. O. Draper, Textile Texts, 1st ed. (1901), 295-97; 2d ed. (1903), 308-9; 3d ed. (1907), 321-23.
(62) Cotton Chats, no. 36 (Feb. 1905), and no. 41 (July 1905).
(63) G. O. Draper, Textile Texts, 1st ed. (1901), 295, and 3d ed. (1907), 320; Cotton Chats, no. 96 (oct. 1910).
(64) Lincoln, "Cotton Textile Machinery--American Loom Builders," 99.
(65) G. O. Draper, Labor Saving Looms, 3d ed. (1907), 37.
(66) Cotton Chats, no. 52 (July 1906). The company also threatened, "It will be understood that it is just as much an infringement to use a patented invention as to make or sell the same." Ibid., no.146 (Dec. 1914).
(67) See footnote 69 for the references concerning the Stafford company. The suit against the U.S. Bobbin and Shuttle Company is reviewed in Cotton Chats, no. 175 (May 1917).
(68) Cotton Chats, no. 51 (June 1906); Textile World, May 1905, 167; see Toru Yanagihara, "Development of Cotton Textile Industry and Textile Machinery Industry in Prewar Japan", Institute of Developing Economies, unpub. paper, 1979, 40-45, and Mass and Lazonick, "The British Cotton Industry and Competitive Advantage."
(69) The three successful suits against the Stafford Loom Company involved a shuttle-changing mechanism--Cotton Chats, no. 2 (Aug. 1901); no. 51 (June 1906); no. 71 (March-April 1908); no. 99 (Jan. 1911); a feeler mechanism--Cotton Chats, no. 83 (Sept. 1909); no. 183 (Jan. 1918); no. 193 (Nov. 1918); and a warp stop motion--Cotton Chats, no. 117 (July 1912), no. 129 (July 1913), no. 146 (Dec. 1914); no. 204 (Oct. 1919).
(70) Navin, Whitin Machine Works, 275-76, 278.
(71) William Mass, "Technological Change and Industrial Relations: The Diffusion of Automatic Weaving in the United States and Britain" (Ph.D. diss., Boston College, 1984). What follows is a synopsis of relevant aspects of chaps. 3 and 4 presented in "desperate brevity."
(72) For a small sampling of this large body of research, see recent surveys of the literature (on the North) in Mass, "Technological Change and Industrial Relations," and Martha Schary, "Exit, Investment and Technological Diffusion in a Declining Industry: An Empirical Study" (Ph.D. diss., MIT, 1987); and on the South, see Gavin Wright, Old South, New South (New York, 1986), and Nancy Kane, Textiles in Transition: Technology, Wages, and Industry Relocation in the U.S. Textile Industry, 1880-1930 (Westport, Conn., 1988).
(73) The industrial relations conflicts in Fall River centered around the determination of the weaver's piece rate. See Mass, "Technological Change and Industrial Relations," chap. 4.
(74) The importance of individual commission houses and their influence over mill production in directing the diffusion of Draper looms in the South is emphasized by Martha Schary, "Financial Structure and Competition: Entry, Investment and Exit in the Cotton Textile Industry" (unpub. paper).
(75) T. R. Smith, The Cotton Textile Industry of Fall River, Massachusetts (New York, 1944), 63.
(76) See Louis Bader, World Developments in the Cotton Industry (New York, 1925), 146-49. See the literature on the developing converter-commission houses, in Melvin Copeland and Edmund Learned, Merchandising of Cotton Textiles, Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration, Business Research Studies, no. 1 (1933) and also 25 Years, The Association of Cotton Textile Merchants of New York, 1918-1943 (New York, 1944).
(77) Textile World 32 (March 1907); Herbert Burgy, The New England Cotton Textile Industry: A study in Industrial Geography (Baltimore, Md., 1932), 207.
(78) Textile World 32 (March 1907).
(79) Smith, Cotton Textile Industry, 109. These measures of capacity represent the percentage of Fall River spindleage. The total Fall River spindleage was 1.27, 2.6, 3.6, and 3.95 million for 1875, 1895, 1910, and 1925, respectively. Since finer cloth requires a higher spindle-to-loom ratio, this measure is biased toward overstating weaving capacity in fine good mills.
(80) Dry Goods Economist, Jubilee Issue (1896), 73, cited in Smith, Cotton Textile Industry, 111.
(81) Seth Hammond, "The Cotton Industry of this Century" (Ph. D. diss., Harvard University, 1941), 788-90.
(82) Fall River Daily Globe, 7 Oct. 1905.
(83) By 1923, the Draper Company acknowledged that "Experience has taught that an automatic loom may make one kind of weave successfully and need much in the way of experiment and changes before it will produce another kind equally well." They explained that the operation of the automatic appliances had to be worked out for each weave, though by this time a print cloth loom could be "fitted to run silk filling or make denim, light duck," or other cloth of a similar weight. Cotton Chats, no. 247 (Nov. 1923).
(84) Cotton Chats, no. 138 (April 1914); no. 238 (20 Feb. 1923); no. 63 (July 1907).
(85) Cotton Chats, no. 71 (March and April 1908); George Otis Draper, "Nordray Loom Catalogue" (Milford, Mass., c. 1921), 8, in the possession of William F. Northrop (grandson of Jonas Northrop), photocopy in author's possession; G. O. Draper, Facts and Figures 58-59; G. O. Draper, Labor Saving Looms, 1st ed. (1904), 208-11. For one participant's observations on the disagreements, see W. F. Draper, Recollections, 326, 375-77.
(86) G. O. Draper, "Nordray Loom Catalogue," 14.
(87) Cotton Chats, no. 84 (Oct. 1909); no. 254 (Aug. 1924); no. 302 (May 1930); no. 333 (Dec. 1939).
(88) G. O. Draper, Textile Texts, 1st ed. (1901), 295-97; 2d ed. (1903), 308-9; 3d ed. (1907), 321-23; Annual Report of the Commissioner of Patents, 1907-25 (Washington, D.C.); Index of Patents Issued from the United States Patent Office, 1926-27 (Washington, D.C.); Patent Assignments Index Card File, Patents and Trademarks Agency, Washington, D.C.
(89) Cotton Chats, no. 141 (July 1914). The Draper Company later acquired 75,000 acres of New York timberland for manufacturing shuttle blanks, but the date of that acquisition is unknown. Garner, Model Company Town, 126 and 255n35.
(90) Cotton Chats, no. 61 (May 1907).
(91) Ibid., no. 87 (Jan. 1910); G. O. Draper, "Nordray Loom Catalogue," 14-15.
(92) G. O. Draper, "Nordray Loom Catalogue," 15. Most of the information about the Hopedale Manufacturing Company comes from several issues of its house organ, Textrin Themes: no. 15 (Aug. 1920); no. 16 (Sept. 1920); no. 19 (Dec. 1920); no. 20 (Feb. 1921); no. 22 (April 1921). In 1921, the Nordray attachments sold for $123; they included filling changer and battery, warp stop motions, shuttle, and feeler motions; Textrin Themes, no. 22. The claim of one-third the cost of new automatic looms is made in no. 15. The Dan River mills bought 1,271 Model E Drapers in 1921 at an average cost of $346.18, so the Hopedale claim seems accurate. Robert S. Smith, Mill on the Dan (Durham, N.C., 1960), 121.
(93) Textrin Themes, nos. 19-20. In 1918 the Draper Company gained control of Whitin patents that Mason had previously leased; see Navin, Whitin Machine Works, 278. The importance of selling complete looms grew as the stock of nonautomatic looms aged and shrank.
(94) Cotton Chats, no. 170 (Dec. 1916). The text accompanying the reproduced notice explicitly threatened suit for patent infringement in these cases. There is no doubt the threat was aimed at the Hopedale Manufacturing Company, since it was the only other manufacturer of looms equipped to use Northrop shuttles.
(95) Cotton Chats, no. 165 (July 1916); no. 171 (Jan. 1917); no. 179 Sept. 1917).
(96) Textrin Themes, nos. 15 and 19; Irwin I. Feller, "The Diffusion and Location of Technological Change in the American Cotton-Textile Industry, 1890-1970," Technology and Culture 15 (Oct. 1974).
(97) Textrin Themes, no. 19; Cotton Chats, no. 306; G. O. Draper, "Nordray Loom Catalogue," 28. By the end of 1920 the Hopedale Manufacturing Company had sold 23,882 sets of Nordray attachments and 4,851 complete automatic looms. After introducing the Nordray loom, Hopedale's sales of complete looms were about equal to the number of looms made automatic through the sale of attachments. For the years 1917-20, the total sales of automatic looms by the Draper Company was two and a half times the number of looms made automatic by the Hopedale Manufacturing Company.
(98) Cotton Chats, no. 238 (1923). Until then, the Draper Company had shipped 2,100 different shuttles. Mills could choose combinations among 242 shuttle blanks, 115 springs, 34 spring covers, 151 shuttle eyes, and several other devices.
(99) Ruth Lawrence, supervisor, Draper, Preston and Allied Families (New York, 1954), 58.
(100) For a more complete history see William Mass, "Decline of a Technological Leader: Capabilities, Strategy, and Shuttleless Weaving, 1945-1974," Business and Economic History, 2d ser. 19 (1990): 234-44.
(101) D. A. Farnie, "The Textile Machine-Making Industry and the World Market, 1870-1815," Business History 32 (Oct. 1990): 150-70; Gary Saxonhouse and Gavin Wright, "Rings and Mules Around the World: A Comparative Study in Technological Choice," in Technique, Spirit and Form in the Making of Modern Economies, ed. Saxonhouse and Wright (Greenwich, Conn., 1984); Colin Simmons, "Hollins, Denis Machell: Textile Machinery Manufacturer," in Dictionary of Business Biography: A Biographical Dictionary of Business Leaders Active in Britain in the Period 1860-1980, vol. 3, ed. David Jeremy (London, 1985); Mass, "Technological Change and Industrial Relations," chap. 5.
(102) See Mass and Lazonick, "The British Cotton Industry and Competitive Advantage."
(103) Taiichi Ohno, "How the Toyota Production System Was Created," in The Anatomy of Japanese Business, ed. K. Sato and Y. Hoshino (Armonk, N.y., 1984); see also Michael Cusumano, The Japanese Automobile Industry (New York, 1985), esp. 27-32, 58-65.
(104) G. O. Draper, "Nordray Loom Catalogue," 14.
WILLIAM MASS is associate professor in the Policy and Planning Department of the College of Management Science at the University of Lowell.
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|Title Annotation:||Draper Company|
|Publication:||Business History Review|
|Date:||Dec 22, 1989|
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