Elias Howe invented the first sewing machine to receive an American patent. Howe's lockstitch mechanism performed 250 stitches per minute, more than what five expert hand-stitchers produced in the same amount of time.
Howe secured his patent in 1846, but had difficulty securing investors for mass production. While Howe sought financing, Isaac Singer also created a lockstitch machine. Howe defended his patent in court for six years and finally won the case, forcing Singer and other inventors to pay Howe significant royalties. Howe opened a sewing-machine factory after the Civil War, and his machine received a gold medal at the 1867 Paris Exhibition.