Still an active company in the manufacture of high-end precision machine tools, the Moore Special Tool Co. Inc. was founded in 1924 by Richard F.Moore. Mr Moore grew up on a New England farm near Bridgeport in an area not dissimilar in geography to the Jura region bordering Switzerland and France. In both places the rural population had, from necessity, to work hard at making a living; as a consequence, children had to turn their hands to not only learning the skills of farming, but also how to use tools in the repair and maintenance of machinery. In the Jura, with its harsh, isolating winters, time not spent on the land was used to make small, high-quality parts for clocks and watches. The result was the emergence of centres of technical excellence and, later, the manufacture of high-quality machine tools. In New England, a very similar pattern was followed, with keen young men from a practical, hand's-on background helping to fuel the establishment of many high-precision engineering concerns. Professor Joseph Wckman Roe, when describing the background of the famous machinist and inventor Eli Whitney, wrote in his book English and American Machine Tool Builders, "He came from that most excellent school of mechanics, the New England Hill Farms".
In 1915, with WW1 underway, the town of Bridgeport was booming, with the Remington Arms Company building what was to became the General Electric Building and employing 10,000 men - with many in highly-paid, skilled jobs. To take advantage of the situation, Richard's uncle, Ira Moore, a time-served machinist, moved from Hartford and soon found himself foreman in the tool room of the milling department. Helping his 18-year old nephew along, his uncle found him a job at 30 cents an hour in the milling department, where he was to work for two years learning from the experienced men surrounding him. As there was no seniority, vacations, paid holidays, pensions or fringe benefits to lose, in those days it was common to move around from job to job or higher pay, or the experience. So, having worked for six years in several shops, Mr Moore found himself in the toolroom of the Singer Sewing Machine Company where after three years of accumulating further knowledge and skills, started his own business in 1924.
Recalling those early days, Mr Moore wrote, "I bought, second-hand, a late model 14-inch. Hendey Lathe, a Brown & Sharpe Miller, one Producto Drill and one LeBlond Universal Grinder. The only new machine was an American Shaper - all these machines are still around the plant. I hired one toolmaker- one of the best I ever met - and a boy to to run errands and do small production jobs that I could set up for him while I did more skilled operations. I well knew that the efforts of two men could not pay my salary and the $25.00/month rent, so I worked long, 80-hour weeks for a long time."
It was tough-selling and running this small shop with no foreman in charge when I was out. I realized I had to have someone in the shop at all times. It was then that Bill Angell came to me in 1926 and served as my right hand man until he retired in 1957. By 1930, we had 12 workers: one or two boys and the rest tool and die makers. Bill had had a lot of experience and kept discipline at all times and that allowed me to do more selling."
27-year old Moore's first premises were modest, the second floor above a diner on John Street in Bridgeport. Ten years later, with a workforce of 20 men, the Moore Company moved to Remer Street, again on a second floor, this time the landlords being none other than Rudpolph Bannow and Magnus Dannow, the two men who went on to design and manufacture of the well-known Bridgeport milling machine.
A fuller and more detailed account of how the Company's grew can be read in the pages that follow.
One very interesting later development for Moore was their involvement - in conjunction with Dallas Optical Systems - in building ultra-precision, CNC-controlled diamond-turning machines with spindles turning in hydrostatic and, later, air-bearings. These machines (the M-40 was one example) could produce precise contours on X-ray and other types of very large telescope mirrors and also, in the form of a horizontal and vertical lathes, shafts turned parallel and tapered to the very highest standard of accuracy. Designed by the CEO of Dallas Optical Systems, John Casstevens, the Moore Nanotechnology Systems Company build a dedicated facility to produce these and similar machines. Details NASA applications can be found here