Analyzing the Hammond company’s financial records and reports for 1880 – 1900 is a fascinating look into a small, niche company growing. These documents have yielded dozens of names of company employees, stock holders, and directors which are fantastic leads to follow up some day. What caught my eye on this adventure was the company valuation.
It’s a report from 1883 attesting that the entire capital of the company was just $50,000. When you adjust that for inflation that comes out to about $1.5 million dollars in 2024. To be fair the company was only in its third year of actual development, they did not yet have a machine to sell, and thus to revenue.
James had obtained his patents in 1880 but they did not get a prototype working until 1882. The typewriter industry and the computer industry almost mirrored one another in how they developed and grew in the early decades, but it’s still tough to compare this to modern day companies because so much of what is done is digital.
For example, the Pebble watch was kickstarted for $10.3 million, and that had vastly greater access to capital, marketing, manufacturing, and the list can go on and on. We can say that Hammond lagged behind many of his competitors, particularly after front-strike machines became the standard which everyone rallied behind. The Hammond was left more and more to specialized writing, academia, government, and advertising.
These records only cover the period of 1880 – 1902, when it was selling the Number 2 model, capital stock was still $55,000. Never a rich company, it nevertheless prevailed for decades despite cheaper competition.