Jan Ernst Matzeliger invented a #shoemakingmachine that increased shoemaking speed by 900%. Jan Matzeliger conceived, patented, built working models, and factory-tested a machine known as a shoe-lasting machine, and he eventually became a stockholder in the company that manufactured it. Matzeliger's shoe-lasting machine could produce 150 to 700 pairs of shoes a day.
Jan Matzeliger was born on September 15, 1852, in the port city of #Paramariboin #DutchGuiana , now known as #Surinam . His mother was a native #Surinamese of African descent, and his father, a Dutch #engineer who had been sent to the island colony to take charge of the government machine works, was a well-educated man and a member of a wealthy and #aristocratic #Dutchfamily .
Jan served as an #apprentice in a government #machineshop supervised by his father. He developed an interest in machines, eventually becoming a skilled #machinist . At the age of 19 he signed on as a seaman with the #DutchEastIndies Company and went to sea. He helped fix the #engines on the #steamship to which he was assigned. He spent two years sailing to the Far East, then came to North America with his ship. When his ship docked in Philadelphia in 1873, Jan Matzeliger left the Dutch East Indies Company and looked for work as a machinist in #Philadelphia . By 1877, he spoke adequate English and had moved to #Massachusetts .
After a while, #JanMatzeliger went to work in a #shoefactory . At the time, no machine could attach the upper part of a shoe to the sole. This had to be done manually by a "#handlaster "; a skilled one could produce 50 pairs in a ten-hour day. As he worked in #shoefactories around Lynn and Boston, he heard it said many times that it was impossible to last shoes by machines; the job simply could not be done. In secret he started experimenting, first with a #crudewoodenmachine , then with a model made out of scrap iron. For ten years he worked, steadily and patiently, with no encouragement. Indeed, when the news of his tinkering finally reached the public, there were jeers of derision. Metzeliger only smiled and continued working. - 2 days ago