Who Invented the Sewing Machine?

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.