Remington Rand

Remington Rand (1927–1955) was an early American business machines manufacturer, best known originally as a typewriter manufacturer and in a later incarnation as the manufacturer of the UNIVAC line of mainframe computers. Remington Rand was a diversified conglomerate making other office equipment, electric shavers, etc. The Remington Rand Building at 315 Park Avenue South in New York City is a 20-floor skyscraper completed in 1911.[1] After 1955 Remington Rand had a long list of mergers that formed Unisys.


Remington Rand was formed in 1927 by the merger of the Remington Typewriter Company and Rand Kardex Corporation. One of its earliest factories, the former Herschell–Spillman Motor Company Complex, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.[2][3] Within the first year, Remington Rand acquired the Dalton Adding Machine Company, the Powers Accounting Machine Company, the Baker-Vawter Company and the Kalamazoo Loose Leaf Binder Company.[4] [5]  From 1936-1937 Remington Rand went on strike, which resulted in violence and the loss of jobs.[6]

From 1942 to 1945, Remington Rand was one manufacturer of the M1911A1 .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol used by the United States Armed Forces during World War II. Remington Rand produced more M1911A1 pistols than any other wartime manufacturer.[7] Remington Rand ranked 66th among United States corporations in the value of World War II military production contracts.[8]

In 1950, Remington Rand acquired the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation, founded by the makers of the ENIAC, and in 1952, they acquired Engineering Research Associates (ERA), both of which were pioneers in electronic computing. At that time, Remington Rand was one of the biggest computer companies in the United States.[9]

On June 14, 1951 their first computer came out and it was called Univac I (Universal Automatic Computer). Many branches of the military, including the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army, were among the first ones to use the computers. When companies started to buy the computers they would leave the computers at the Remington Rand facility since they were so big and bulky. The Univac I was about the size of a one car garage, and 46 machines were built and sold for one million dollars each.[10]

Remington Rand was acquired by Sperry Corporation in 1955 to form a company then known as Sperry Rand (later shortened to Sperry). However the brand name of "Remington Rand" remained as a subdivision for many years.[11] Sperry merged in 1986 with Burroughs to form Unisys.[9]

Strike of 1936-37

Remington Rand had a strike from 1936-1937. Remington Rand bought the Noiseless Typewriter Company in 1924, and the Noiseless Typewriter Company kept their company name and their workers were getting paid by Remington Rand. Also in the summer of 1936, James H. Rand Jr. tried to break up the strike by firing union workers and hiring new workers to take their places. Rand Jr. also threatened to close the plant. The strike got so out of hand that the state and local police had to help keep the strikers from throwing stones at workers and vehicles.[12]

The strike started out by the Federal Union, which was affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (AFL). James Rand Jr. used the idea of the Mohawk Valley Formula to try and break up the strike. The Mohawk Valley Formula was used to spread propaganda about the union strikes. The propaganda was done by spreading out rumors and bashing the union strikers for hurting their families, by having no income coming to their households since they are out of work. The propaganda was also often used to call the union strikers communist or an anarchist, to make the public hate the union strikers.[13]

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which has a professional strikebreaker system, came in and tried to help the strikers and Remington Rand to reach a deal. The NLRB had strikebreakers come in and the strikebreakers had many different tactics to help the strikers return to work and work out a deal. The strikebreakers brought techniques that involved propaganda, which would spread demoralizing rumors among striking employees. The strikebreakers would also use missionaries to go to the employees homes and would persuade them to go back to work. The missionaries would dress up as Remington Rand's personnel department in order to help persuade the employees.[13]

In 1937, the NLRB decided in favor of the workers, and the board ordered Rand to stop interfering with employee's unions and the right to organize. After the strike was broken in the summer of 1940 the Middletown plant had closed permanently leaving 1200 employees without jobs. There were still legal battles being fought for the employees that were in the strike while the plant was closing. The Middletown plant was run by strikebreakers until the closing of the plant in 1940.[13]



Initially produced by E. Remington and Sons, the Remington Typewriters were the first to use the QWERTY keyboard layout. Remington had bought the design from Christopher Sholes. The Remington No.1 was the first model released. All keys were uppercase. Remington spun off Remington Typewriter Company in 1886, and after the 1927 merger, the Remington Rand Corp. continued to manufacture and sell typewriters.[14]

Images of Remington Rand Typewriters


The UNIVAC I (UNIVersal Automatic Computer I) was the second commercial computer made in the United States.[15] It was designed principally by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, the inventors of the ENIAC. Design work was begun by their company, Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation, and was completed after the company had been acquired by Remington Rand. (In the years before successor models of the UNIVAC I appeared, the machine was simply known as "the UNIVAC".)[14]

The first UNIVAC was delivered to the United States Census Bureau on March 31, 1951, and was dedicated on June 14 that year.[16] The fifth machine (built for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission) was used by CBS to predict the result of the 1952 U.S. presidential election. With a sample of 1% of the voting population it predicted Eisenhower's win.[14]

In 1949, Remington Rand designed the Remington Rand 409, a control panel programmed punched card calculator (but not introduced as a product until 1952 as the UNIVAC 60 then in 1953 as the UNIVAC 120 with double the memory).[14]

Remington Rand Electric Razors

Remington Rand also made electric razors. The Remington brand of razor was originally produced by a division of Remington Rand, starting in 1937. Sperry Corporation sold the division in 1979 to Victor Kiam, who became the company spokesman of the new Remington Products Company. His line, "I liked the shaver so much, I bought the company" became one of the more memorable advertising slogans of the early 1980s.

Remington Products to Rayovac

Remington Products was sold in 2003 to the battery manufacturer Rayovac. Rayovac is now Spectrum Brands.

They also sold punched card systems, beginning with the 1928 acquisition of the Powers Accounting Machine Company and ending in the 1950s.

The Remington Rand Co. and the Remington Rand Building are depicted as the Knox Co. and the Knox Building in Richard Yates' 1961 novel Revolutionary Road.

In 1921, Rand Kardex sponsored the Tonawanda Kardex all-star team of football players from Tonawanda, New York; known to have formed in 1916 and coached for its entire existence by Tam Rose. The team joined the NFL that season but folded after playing in just one game as a league member.[17]

The novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand said that she chose her Americanized name based on her Remington Rand typewriter.

The 1980s television series Remington Steele had Laura Holt (Stephanie Zimbalist) draw the personal name for her detective agency's fictitious male chief-executive official (whose identity Pierce Brosnan's character assumed in the first installment after discovering her elaborate ruse) from her old Remington typewriter. (The family name for the fictitious boss came from the Pittsburgh Steelers professional football team.)

In the 1996 film The Ghost and the Darkness, screenwriter William Goldman used the name for Michael Douglas' fictional character, Charles Remington.

In 2018, the hit Lifetime/Netflix series "You (TV series)", also showed a Remington Rand typewriter.

Further reading

  • James M. Utterback: Mastering the Dynamics of Innovation, ISBN 0-87584-740-4
  • Arthur L. Norberg, Computers and Commerce: A Study of Technology and Management at Eckert-Mauchly Computer Company, Engineering Research Associates, and Remington Rand, 1946–1957 (History of Computing) (Hardcover), ISBN 0-262-14090-X
  • James W. Cortada, Before the Computer: IBM, NCR, Burroughs, and Remington Rand and the Industry They Created, 1865–1956 (Studies in Business and Technology), ISBN 0-691-05045-7


  1. "Remington Rand Building, New York City -". Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  2. "Cultural Resource Information System (CRIS)" (Searchable database). New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2015-11-01. Note: This includes Kerry Traynor and Daniel McEneny (January 2013). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Herschell–Spillman Motor Company Complex" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-11-01. and Accompanying photographs
  3. "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 6/17/13 through 6/21/13. National Park Service. 2013-06-28.
  4. A History of Sperry Rand Corporation. Sperry Rand. 1967. p. 32.
  5. "Remington Rand". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  6. questions, Courant Columnist Marlene Clark researches your. "WHAT WAS THE NOISELESS TYPEWRITER STRIKE OF 1936-1937?". Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  7. "1911/1911A1 Production Numbers". Archived from the original on February 12, 2009.
  8. Peck, Merton J. & Scherer, Frederic M. The Weapons Acquisition Process: An Economic Analysis (1962) Harvard Business School p.619
  9. Norberg, Arthur L. (2005-06-01). Computers and Commerce: A Study of Technology and Management at Eckert–Mauchly Computer Company, Engineering Research Associates, and Remington Rand, 1946-1957. The MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-14090-4.
  10. " - 50th anniversary of the UNIVAC I - June 14, 2001". Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  11. Saunders, Cece. "REMINGTON RAND FACILITY" (PDF). Midtown Planning. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  12. questions, Courant Columnist Marlene Clark researches your. "WHAT WAS THE NOISELESS TYPEWRITER STRIKE OF 1936-1937?". Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  13. Smith, Anson C. (Spring 2015). "The 1936 Remington Rand Strike in Middletown: A Case Study in Propaganda". Connecticut History Review. 54 (1): 112–142. JSTOR 44370382.
  14. Norberg, Arthur Lawrence (2005). Computers and Commerce: A Study of Technology and Management at Eckert-Mauchly Computer Company, Engineering Research Associates, and Remington Rand, 1946-1957. United States: MIT Press. ISBN 026214090X.
  15. The first commercial computer in the world was the BINAC built by the Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation and delivered to Northrop Aircraft Company in 1949.
  16. " - Breaking News, U.S., World, Weather, Entertainment & Video News". Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  17. "Professional Football Researchers Association- Pro Football History". Archived from the original on 19 March 2006. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
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