- Engineering & Materials
- Hoe, Richard March (1812–1886)
Hoe, Richard March (1812–1886)
U.S. inventor and manufacturer, famous for inventing the rotary printing press.
Hoe was born in New York City on September 12, 1812. He was the eldest son of Robert Hoe (1784–1833), who, with his brothers-in-law Peter and Matthew Smith, had established in New York a firm manufacturing printing presses. Richard Hoe was educated in public schools before entering his father's firm at the age of 15. When his father retired in 1830, Richard and his cousin Matthew took over the business. Richard proved to have the same mechanical genius as his father, and the application of his ideas revolutionized printing processes. He discarded the old flatbed printing press and placed the type on a revolving cylinder. This was later developed into the Hoe rotary or “lightning” press, patented in 1846 and first used by the Philadephia Public Ledger in 1847.
Under Hoe's management the company grew at a rapid rate. In 1859 he built Isaac Adams's Press Works in Boston. After the Civil War, new premises were built in Grand Street, New York, and the old buildings in Gold Street were abandoned. Between 1865 and 1870, a large manufacturing branch was built up in London, employing 600 people.
In 1871, with Stephen D. Tucker as a partner, Hoe began experimenting and designed and built the Hoe web perfecting press. This press enabled publishers to satisfy the increasing circulation demands of the rapidly growing U.S. population.
While Richard Hoe was the leading influence in the company, he spent much time and money on the welfare of his employees. Quite early in his career he started evening classes for apprentices, at which free instruction was given in those aspects of their work most likely to be of practical use to them. He was addressed by them as “the Colonel,” which dated from his early service in the National Guard.
He died suddenly while on a combined health and pleasure trip to Florence with his wife and a daughter, on June 7, 1886. He was succeeded in the business by his nephew, Robert Hoe.
At the time when Richard Hoe was made responsible for the company, it was making a single small cylinder press. Its capacity was 2,000 impressions per hour and there was demand for a greater speed of output. This prompted Hoe to concentrate on improvements to meet the demand and, in 1837, a double small cylinder press was perfected and introduced. In the next ten years, he designed and put into production a single large cylinder press. This was the first flatbed and cylinder press ever used in the United States. Hundreds of these machines were made in subsequent years and were used for book, job, and woodcut printing. During 1845 and 1846 Hoe was busily engaged in designing and inventing presses to meet the increased requirements of the newspaper publishers. The result was the construction of the revolving machine based on Hoe's patents. The basis of these inventions was a device for securely fastening the forms of type on a central cylinder placed in a horizontal position. The first of these machines, installed in the Public Ledger office, had four impression cylinders grouped around the central cylinder. With one boy to each cylinder to feed in blank paper, 8,000 papers could be produced per hour.
Almost immediately newspaper printing was revolutionized, and Hoe's rotary press became famous throughout the world. In 1853, he introduced the cylinder press that had been patented in France by Dutartre and improved on it in the following years for use in lithographic and letter-press work. In 1861 the curved stereotype plate was perfected, and in 1865 William Bullock succeeded in producing the first printing machine that would print on a continuous web or roll of paper. Spurred on by this latest development, Hoe and his partner began experimenting and designed and built a web press. The first of these to be used in the United States was installed in the office of the New York Tribune. At maximum speed, this press printed on both sides of the sheet and produced 18,000 papers per hour. Four years later, Tucker patented a rotating, folding cylinder that folded the papers as fast as they came off the press.
In 1881 the Hoe Company devised the triangular former-folder, which, when incorporated into the press, together with approximately 20 additional improvements, gave rise to the modern newspaper press. It was with the introduction of this that the 1847-type revolving press was superseded.
From the Hutchinson Dictionary of Scientific Biography, © RM, 2020. All rights reserved. Published under license in AccessScience, © McGraw-Hill Education, 2000–2020. Helicon Publishing is a division of RM.