Atlas lathes were first manufactured by the Atlas Press Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1932. In 1934, Atlas Press began selling its 10-inch lathes. For over 50 years, the company produced lathes of different sizes, as well as the Utility and Unit Plan model products. The Atlas Press Company was notable for using new materials in manufacturing; these included the trademarked ZAMAK alloy, which was composed of zinc, aluminum, magnesium and copper.
The first lathes produced by the Atlas Press Company were 9-inch models branded as Craftsman "Metalmasters" or "Metalcraft." These were manufactured from 1932 to 1936, when they began competing with the company's simple 10-inch "Utility" lathes. Instead of a backgear, the first Atlas lathes utilized a V-belt system and a Hyatt roller-bearing countershaft unit. The patent for these lathes was granted in 1933.
In 1936, the company began producing its Series 10D and 10F lathes, which were stronger and more effective than earlier models. The company designed these lathes with a modern backgear, which was a departure from the V-belt design. The 6-inch lathes also came into production in 1936 and were manufactured until 1974. This popular lathe sold well in the United States due to its affordability and all-purpose design. Atlas Press primarily offered these lathes through the Sears, Roebuck catalog.
The company changed production strategies during World War II, when it manufactured lathes with two different types of roller-bearing headstocks. It sold these versions under the Craftsman brand through Sears, Roebuck. Atlas Press changed the design of these lathes again in 1970; the new lathes had no separate speed-reducing countershafts and were more square and compact in appearance.