Columbia has been credited with many firsts in the biking industry, since its founding in 1877 by Col. Albert Pope. It has pioneered many improvements to the industry, producing bikes, motorbikes, and furniture for nearly 150 years.
History in Depth
1841-1850 | 1851-1860 | 1861-1870 | 1871-1880 | 1881-1890 | 1891-1900 | 1901-present
1843 - Albert Pope's date of birth, May 23rd. He ended up becoming a Captain in the Civil War. Came out of the Civil War looking for a job. Later he was referred to as Col. Pope.
1876 - Pope attended the Centennial Exposition where he saw a two wheeled contraption. When he came back he researched and went to Europe.
1877 - The Pope Manufacturing Company was organized. First small beginnings in the bicycle business as importers and makers at 45 High St. Boston, Ma. His first wheel cost $313.00 and the factory was not equipped for mass production. He began looking for a vendor.
1878 - Larger salesrooms and a Bicycle Riding School at 87 Summer St. Boston, Ma. The first American manufacturer of cycles begun with the Columbia Bicycle at the Weed Sewing Machine Company factory in Hartford, Ct. The first regular trade catalogue was twenty pages long. The first bicycles were the 60" Hi Wheelers and sold for $125.00 when sewing machines sold for $13.00.
1879 - Agency systems and a uniform pricing system was established. The model was the "Standard Columbia".
1880 - Model's "Special Columbia", "Youth's Columbia", "Mustang", and "Youth's Mustang". The "Columbia Ball Bearing" was introduced. Started the Wheeling Association to fight for better road and cycling clubs. Still around today.
1881 - Larger quarters at 597 Washington St. Boston, Ma. The Columbia Warrant or Guarantee was instituted.
1882 - A Branch House in New York was established. Model "Expert Columbia" was the first bicycle ridden across the U.S., from Oakland, Ca. to Boston, Ma. - 103 days, 3,700 miles. Then went around the world. "Columbia Enamel" was introduced.
1883 - Model's "Columbia Racer" and "Three-track Tricycle".
1884 - A Branch House in Chicago was established.
1885 - Model's "Columbia Light Roadster" bicycle and "Two-track Tricycle".
1886 - Model's "Columbia Safety" (front drive), "Semi-roadster" bicycle, and "Ladies Two-track Tricycle". Records of one mile in 2:29 4/5 seconds and 22 miles in the hour were made on a "Columbia Racer" and stood as World's Records for years to come.
1887 - The building at 77 and 79 Franklin St. Boston, Ma. was occupied in January. Model's "Columbia Tandem", "Columbia Racing", and "Light Roadster Tricycles".
1888 - Model's "Veloce Columbia" (rear drive Safety), "Volunteer Columbia", and "Surprise Columbia Tricycle".
1889 - Model's "Columbia Light Roadster" and "Tandem Safeties".
1890 - Model's "Columbia Ladies Safety" and "Racing Safety". Columbia "Cushion Tires" were introduced. Final control and absorption of the Weed Sewing Machine Company took place. Stock went from $5.80 to $75.50. Colonel Pope bought the company for $15.60 and started the Pope Manufacturing Company. "Father of Good Roads" awarded. Instrumental of Congress awarding $10,000 needed for good road construction. M.I.T. started four courses in road engineering.
1891 - Model's "Columbia Light Roadster Safety" and "Pneumatic Racing Safety".Great enlargement of the factory. Erection of a new building for the headquarters at 221 Columbus Ave. Boston, Ma.
1892 - Model #30 (Relay). Century Columbia. Columbia Pneumatic Tire. Started a big growth period. Purchase and enlargement of Hartford Rubber Works, a steel company, the largest nickel plating factory in the world, tube mills, motor carriage factory (auto), bicycle factory - over 1 million per year sold - $200.00 ea. sold in every civilized country of the world. "Trotting" transformed by the application of Columbia Pneumatic Tires and Ball Bearings.
1893 - Model's #31, 32, 33. Columbia's Pneumatic Tires were first successfully applied to road carriages. The Tube Mill was completed and put into operation. A new East wing was added to the factory.
1894 - Model's #34, 35, 36, 37, 38, and 39.Erection of a new office building at Hartford, Ct.
1895 - Model's #40, 41, 42, 43, and 44. Concentration of all interest at Hartford, Ct.Sale of Hartford Cycle Company's product taken. Started purchasing all competition (over 75 companies) and put them under the "American Bicycle Company" that he owned. Pope put together other companies for the automobile. Built factories, formed "Electric Company".
1896 - Large additions to Columbia plant. New Tube Mill Completed. Experimental work was done on auto's. The Mark I Phaeton Electric Car was completed. Hiram Maxim, an engineer, astonished everyone with operating a gasoline carriage (auto) on the streets of Hartford, Ct. Col. Pope purchased all the rights to the car. Beginning of the Westfield Plant: Lozier Manufacturing Company of Cleveland Ohio is building a factory division in Westfield, Ma. Land was donated by the Noble family, 10 acres on Silver St. and $10,000 to cover a shortage in the subscription. Subscription raised $75,000. August 5th, contract signed, company to build Cleveland Bicycles.
1897 - In 1897, the Westfield Plant was completed in less than a year. On February 3rd, it was expected that the factory will be operating by February 15th. New tube mill in operation . Five percent nickel steel tubing a new Columbia feature. A new building was added to the Columbia plant in Hartford, CT. Total floor space, 17 1/100 acres under one roof and extended over a mile along the New York - New Haven - Hartford Railway, employed nearly 10,000 people. Col. Pope produced the "Pope Hartford" and was running from New York to Boston, MA. The Mark III auto was developed. In May, ten vehicles were exhibited, sold for $3,000 each. Gasoline powered Tricycle available. Rental business of Columbia Electric Carriers on a for hire service established.
1898 - The GREATEST contribution to cycling and autos! They produced the chain-less bicycle. It was shaft driven with bevel gears (another new patent). Chain was the biggest problem with cycles. Men attempted to break them for sport. Major variations in automobiles could not gain speed with chains. The Mark VIII is available. It is comparable in design to modern cars with regards to the chassis and engine position.
1899 - Columbia Electric Coach (electric automobile). The Coach was built by Columbia for the New York City Transit and was used to ferry dignitaries from the railroad station to the city offices. A number of units were also to provide a taxi service in the city from 1899 to 1906, when they changed to gas powered units. Charles Murphy "Mile A Minute Murphy" rode a Columbia Tribune one mile in 57 4/5 seconds in Long Island, NY. behind a train.
1900 - Present - The facts will periodically be updated for previous years and added for the later years. Your interest is what has been keeping us going since 1877.