Funding for this website was provided by a grant from the AGMA Foundation. To support the AGMA Foundation’s grants and scholarship programs visit www.agmafoundation.org.
Nineteen gear companies founded the American Gear Manufacturers Association (AGMA) in 1916-1917 to advance and improve their industry through the standardization of gear design, manufacture and application. AGMA has traveled a long way over the past 100 years, navigating through war, peace, dramatic technology advancements, and economic ups and downs. Throughout these years, thousands of people at hundreds of gear manufacturers worldwide have worked to improve gearing - work that has benefited everyone on the planet. AGMA celebrates its Centennial year with more than 500 members companies who still share that original dedication to advancing gear science and technology. This timeline highlights some of AGMA's milestones over the past century. Congratulations and Thank You to the AGMA members past, present, and future for your hard work and dedication to your industry!
Gears often delivered to customers by horse and wagon.
Henry Bessemer invents a process to commercially produce large batches of steel — this steel makes for stronger and more durable gears.
First Bevel and Spur Gear cutting machine patented by the Gleason Corporation.
Heinrich Hertz publishes his contact mechanics work which is the foundation of the durability rating of gears or “Hertzian Stress.”
George Grant invents the first fully geared hobbing machine.
Wilfred Lewis outlines his formula for computing bending stress in gear teeth. This formula, the “Lewis Stress Factor” is the basis of the strength rating of gear teeth.
The Duryea Brothers road-test the first, American-made, gasoline-powered automobile in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Edwin R. Fellows develops the Fellows gear tooth shaper machine and co-founds the Fellows Gear Shaper Company. This gear cutter allows for the mass production of spur gears for use in automotive transmissions.
George Grant publishes “A Treatise on Gear Wheels” which describes the different types of gears and simplifies gear rating.
The late 1800s see many advances in gearing. Between 1849 and 1895, 100 patents are granted for gear cutters.
Workers at the New Process Rawhide Company prepare leather for gears. Rawhide gears are commonly used in electric railways, mining, and textile production due to their durability, low noise, and low vibration. One of AGMA’s first standards is on rawhide gears.
Index Cutter is used to make most gears. These cutters cut one tooth at a time.
Ten Thousand people attend the New York International Auto Show which features 66 exhibitors and 31 automobiles.
Oliver & Wilbur Wright’s historic airplane flight at Kitty Hawk.
David Edward Ross invents his first automotive steering gear.
Russell Bloomfield develops a carburizing process for hardening gear tooth surfaces.
Henry Ford begins production of the Model T automobile.
James E. Gleason and Arthur Stewart design the spiral bevel gear. These gears provide higher ratings and smoother running and are used primarily in vehicle axles.
Nine gear companies (Cincinnati Gear, Earle Gear & Machine, Horsburgh & Scott, Newark Gear Cutting Machine, R.D. Nutall, Philadelphia Gear Works, Simonds Manufacturing, Van Dorn & Dutton, and Pittsburgh Gear & Machine) meet in Pittsburgh, PA to discuss formation of AGMA.
In March the newly formed AGMA meets at Lakewood, NJ for election of officers and an executive committee. Frederick W. Sinram is elected first President of AGMA.
First Semi-Annual Meeting held Sept. 13 – 15 at Edgewater Beach Hotel, Chicago, IL.
Many AGMA members contribute to the WWI war effort, including the Falk Corporation which produces 182 gear drives for 92 U.S. Naval Destroyers.
U.S. enters WWI, creating a demand for gears for the military. Ross Gear contracts with U.S. Government to manufacture 1,000 steering gears for the Liberty Truck.
World War I ends.
John Deere adds tractors to their farm implement production line.
April 15 – 17, AGMA Convention in Cleveland, OH.
AGMA members are hard at work on standards, which at times feels like an uphill battle!
January 16, Ratification of the transportation of intoxicating liquors” in the United States. “Prohibition” repealed in 1933.
AGMA’s work on Standards receives great attention from the press.
August 18, the 19th Amendment gives women the right to vote.
AGMA now has 94 members and meets at the Gleason Works in Rochester, NY.
Igor Sikorsky founds the Sikorsky Aero Engineering Corporation.
AGMA publishes numerous Standards and Recommended Practices, such as this one on the Involute Tooth Form.
AGMA dinner at William Penn Hotel
May 21, Charles Lindbergh lands the “Spirit of St. Louis” in Paris, successfully completing the first trans-Atlantic flight.
On the eve of the Great Depression, the AGMA Member Handbook lists 81 member companies. Seventy-seven are from the U.S., with one each from Canada, England, France and Australia.
The stock market crashes on October 24th, leading to a 10 year period known as The Great Depression.
AGMA membership drops off as the Depression causes some companies to fold.
Oil pump gears are the first commercial use of ferrous powdered metal parts.
Timken develops the tapered roller bearing, which leads to enclosed gear drives with more horsepower and more reliable performance.
First Generating Gear Tooth Grinding Machine by Niles (now Kapp) produces higher quality gears.
AGMA office located in Wilkinsburg, PA, first AGMA staff member hired, J. C. McQuiston, as Executive Secretary.
Klingelnberg introduces the first double gear tooth flank rolling inspection machine.
Walter Schmitter develops the “Rational Gear Formula” a complex system of ratings for gear durability; and in 1936 presents, “Quiet High Speed Gearing” which is the foundation for accurate, quiet gears for marine drives.
Earle Buckingham publishes “Manual of Gear Design.”
AGMA sets sail for 19th Semi-Annual meeting, taking a cruise from Chicago to Cleveland on the S.S. Seeandbee.
July 2, American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart disappears over the Pacific Ocean while attempting to circumnavigate the globe.
September 1, Germany invades Poland, marking the start of World War II.
September 14, maiden flight of the world’s first practical single lifting rotor helicopter, the VS-300 designed by Igor Sikorsky. This leads to the world’s first mass produced helicopter, the Silorsky R-4.
October 20 – 22 “Defense” is the keynote topic at the 24th Semi-Annual Meeting at the Edgewater Beach Hotel, Chicago, IL.
December 7, attack on Pearl Harbor, United States enters World War II.
AGMA member companies are critical to the war effort, and many earn the Army-Navy “E” Award for Excellence.
AGMA member companies employ women to replace men who have been called off to war. For example, the Falk Corporation has nearly 500 women working in the plant by late 1943.
100% of General Motors’ output supports the Allied war effort.
U.S. entry in WWII increases the need for gears. For example, Fairfield sees a 120% jump in orders in January 1942, and begins 24/7 operations.
First presentation of AGMA’s E.P. Connell Award. The first recipient is Jackson C. McQuiston, AGMA Executive Secretary from 1931 – 1942.
The Gleason Works begins production of Curvic® Couplings which provide accurate, compact and self-contained precision connections. These couplings become an important part of the newly developed jet engine, allowing exact alignment of components along the main engine shaft.
Newbold C. Goin is hired as second Executive Secretary of AGMA.
During WWII, each issue of AGMA’s News Digest urges the reader to Buy Bonds to support the war effort.
Wartime auto travel is difficult due to gas rationing. The 1943 and 1944 AGMA Annual Meetings are held at the Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York because it is an easy journey by train.
First U.S. Helicopter school established at Freeman Field, Seymour, Indiana using Sikorsky R-4B helicopters.
The May 24th issue of AGMA’s News Digest simply proclaims “Peace” after V-E Day on May 8th.
First Annual Meeting held at The Homestead in Hot Springs, VA, which hosts the Annual Meeting from 1945 – 1987.
Photo courtesy of Omni Hotels - The Homestead
AGMA Office moves to the Empire Building in Pittsburgh, PA.
August 14, armistice with Japan ends World War II.
Nicknamed the “Flying Banana,” the first practical tandem rotor helicopter, HRP-1, designed by Frank N. Piasecki, makes its first successful flight. The HRP leads to the development of the Boeing Chinook helicopters.
The AGMA Semi-Annual Meeting is held at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago, IL. The Edgewater Beach hosts the Semi-Annual Meeting from 1946 – 1964.
Photo courtesy of the Edgewater Beach Historical Society
Charles Yeager becomes the first man to break the sound barrier flying the experimental Bell X-1 at Mach 1 at an altitude of 45,000 ft.
Earle Buckingham publishes “Analytical Mechanics of Gears.”
William McKinlay at ABA-PGT is the first person in the U.S. to mold gears from nylon.
June 25, North Korea military forces cross the 38th parallel and quickly overrun South Korea.
AGMA hires its first staff engineer, Casimir Kopec.
More than 150 people attend the 35th AGMA Annual Meeting at The Homestead.
John C. Sears replaces Newbold C. Goinas AGMA Executive Secretary.
AGMA Office moves to Washington, DC.
July 27, Armistice signed ending the Korean Conflict.
Francis Crick and James Watson discover the spiral structure of DNA.
Darle Dudley publishes “Practical Gear Design”.
December 1, Rosa Parks refuses to vacate her seat aboard a Montgomery, AL, bus.
February, the U.S. sends military advisors to South Vietnam.
The first helicopter powered by a jet turbine engine, the Bell XH-40, makes its maiden flight.
The first “heavy lift” helicopter, the UH-21 designed by Frank N. Piasecki, makes first nonstop transcontinental helicopter flight.
William Willert patents the reciprocating screw injection machine, which produces plastic gears 50% faster than the old plunger injection method.
The AGMA Engine and Power Takeoff Task Group completes the first draft of an Aircraft Bevel Gear Standard, AGMA 431.01.
AGMA has Cold War Committees known as, “The Radar and Interception Device Control Gear Committee” and “The Rocket and Missile Gear Task Committee.”
Advancements in plastic gear material leads to plastic replacing metal gears in many high volume, small gear applications.
Arrow Gear provides bevel gears for the first vertical take off and landing plane; the Curtiss Wright X-19 tiltrotor aircraft.
Aug. 7, U.S. Congress passes the Gulf of Tonkin resolution which escalates U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
Arrow Gear provides spur & bevel gears for the Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird”, an Air Force high altitude reconnaissance plane known to fly at speeds beyond Mach 3, capable of outdistancing missiles.
AGMA approves first durability and strength ratings for spur and single helical gears.
Publication of the AGMA Company Member’s Management Handbook — a guide to running a profitable gear company.
Kingelnberg markets the first gear involute and lead inspection machine with infinite adjustable base circle.
AGMA 50th Anniversary Meeting, The Homestead, Hot Springs, VA.
Largest machine to ever “walk” the earth, “BIG MUSKIE” (drag line) goes into operation. Big Muskie was built by Bucyrus Erie (now owned by Caterpillar) for Central Ohio Coal and was 22 stories high, and weighed over 13,500 metric tons.
William McKinlay and Samuel Pierson publish, “Accurate Molded Plastic Gears,” the premier manual on plastic gearing.
AGMA holds trade mission to Japan.
March 18 – 19, AGMA holds First Gear Manufacturing Seminar in Chicago, IL.
Introduction of the Harrier Jump Jet, the first practical vertical short takeoff and landing aircraft.
July 20, Neil Armstrong walks on the moon.
Hansen, Sumitomo) made carburized and ground industrial gears into the U.S. market. This is the beginning of smaller, more power dense surface hardened gear drives in the western hemisphere.
Development of computer aided design.
William W. Ingraham replaces John Sears as Executive Director of AGMA.
Falk supplies eight of the largest gear drives built to date to the Ozark Dam Project on the Arkansas River. Each drive weighs 288 tons and operates at 33,800 hp at 514 rpm generator speed.
Hewlett Packard introduces the HP 35, the world’s first pocket calculator with scientific functions. Slide Rule sales take a nose dive!
Martin Cooper, a Motorola researcher and executive, makes the first mobile telephone call from handheld subscriber equipment. The phone measured 23 cm long, 13 cm deep and 4.45 cm wide and provided a talk time of just 30 minutes and took 10 hours to recharge.
Maag develops the first gear inspection machine to independently verify/document gear tooth spacing, profile, leads, and run out.
Pfauter displays the first Numerical Control Hobbing Machine at the EMO Show in Paris.
April 30, Last U.S. personnel evacuated from the roof of the U.S. Embassy in South Vietnam..
Höfler produces the earliest known tooth grinding machine with on-board pitch testing capability.
June 5 – 8, Astronaut Neil Armstrong attends AGMA Annual Meeting at The Homestead, Hot Springs, VA.
AGMA office moves to Arlington, VA.
AGMA Semi-Annual meeting renamed the Fall Technical Meeting.
Annual Meeting at the Homestead features keynote speaker General Alexander Haig, Supreme Commander NATO.
Gears often heat treated by gas carburizing to increase hardness and durability.
Introduction of Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Gear Cutting Technology.
Development of finite element analysis in the 1980s revolutionized the design process and optimization of gearing.
Advances in technology led to pinion stand reducers for the metal rolling industry – at lower cost and requiring less foundation space.
AGMA begins participating in Technical Committee 60 of ISO, which administers ISO gear standards development.
Overland conveyor belts get longer, requiring higher torque gear drives like this one from Horsburgh & Scott.
Debut of the IBM PC.
Publication of AGMA Standard 218, which acknowledges surface hardened gears as an improvement for many applications.
Debut of Gear Technology Magazine.
Höfler delivers a gear grinding machine to Cincinnati Gear with the first complete on-board measuring system.
AGMA office moves to Alexandria, VA, Rick Norment hired as AGMA Executive Director.
First “Gear Expo” tabletop exhibit held in Chicago.
AGMA Annual Meeting is NOT held at The Homestead, instead held in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Introduction of the 6-axis CNC/ CAM cutting machines is a huge gear manufacturing innovation, allowing for electronic transfer of design data, minimum overall process time, and increased accuracy and repeatability.
AGMA approves 2001-B88 as more comprehensive durability and strength gear design practice to include more specific factors related to material cleanliness, accuracy, surface condition, and hardness processing type to rate gears.
November 9, Berlin Wall falls.
Quantum Computer Services (later renamed America On Line) debuts an internet messaging service that announces, “You’ve Got Mail!”.
Advent of Lead Correction Technology in Gear Manufacturing.
Increasingly gear designers are capitalizing on the economic advantages of powder metallurgy. Powder metal gears are found in automobiles, outdoor power equipment transmissions, office equipment, power hand tools, and appliances.
A popular method of large gear set verification is the red paste dye contact check.
Nelson Mandela is set free after 27 years of imprisonment.
Joe Franklin hired as AGMA President.
December 26 With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the flag of the Soviet Union is lowered from the Kremlin, and replaced by the flag of pre-revolutionary Russia.
75th Annual Meeting at the Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida.
Gear Expo established as the leading Gear Show in the U.S.
First AGMA hands-on education program, the AGMA Training School for Gear Manufacturing, debuts in Chicago, IL.
AGMA Foundation established to fund AGMA’s work in ISO.
Liebherr introduces dry hobbing.
First commercial use of isotropic superfinished gears.
Windows ’95 debuts and quickly becomes the world’s most popular desktop operating system.
Ebay is founded in San Jose, CA.
Mitsubishi introduces the first computer programmable lead guide gear shaping machine.
AGMA launches its website, www.agma.org.
Tiger Woods wins his first Masters Tournament.
Mitsubishi introduces “Superdry” the first high speed gear hob tool for dry cutting.
AGMA publishes the first edition of its Gear Rating Suite to provide ratings based on ISO 6336.
Donald R. McVittie receives AGMA’s first Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Euro is introduced into world financial markets.
September 11, Al Queda conducts simultaneous attacks with passenger planes on U.S. soil.
Oct. 7, U.S. launches Operation Enduring Freedom in response to 9/11 attacks.
AGMA Gear Quality Standard 2000-A88 replaced by 2015-1-A01 in 2001, and 2015-2-A06 in 2006.
Linda Doshi elected as the fourth AGMA Foundation Board Chair, first (and only) woman to hold this position.
Gears in Space! The U.S. launches twin Mars Rovers, “Spirit” and “Opportunity” with titanium gears from Forest City Gear.
Debut of Gear Solutions Magazine.
March 19, Operation Iraqi Freedom topples Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 21 days of combat operations.
AGMA publishes the first standards for Wind Turbine Gearbox design.
Leslie Hennessey elected to serve as AGMA Board Chair, first (and only) woman to hold this position.
First AGMA Annual Meeting held in conjunction with ABMA.
First Gear Expo held in conjunction with the ASM Heat Treating Society.
Falk (Rexnord) produces one of the largest ring gears ever made for a U.S. gold mine. The gear teeth are cut on a 12 meter Maag machine, 43.5 feet outside diameter, 250,000 pounds, operating on SAG mill at 24,000 hp.
AGMA celebrates its 100th Anniversary!
Funding for this website was provided by a grant from the AGMA Foundation. To support the AGMA Foundation’s grants and scholarship programs visit www.agmafoundation.org.