Obed Hussey was born in 1791 to Quaker parents. As a young man, he became a sailor on a whaling ship, but he eventually forsook this career. He moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he created a farming machine known as the reaper in 1833. The reaper was a horse-drawn machine that chopped and collected a farmer's grain. This invention greatly reduced the amount of work for farmers and allowed agriculturalists to plant more land in crops. Hussey was the first man to patent his invention, but he was not the first person to invent such a machine.
Six months after Hussey patented his machine, Cyrus McCormick placed a similar machine on the market. Hussey initially outsold McCormick, as McCormick wanted to perfect his invention before he began to mass-produce them. Once McCormick began producing his machine in large quantities, he quickly drove Hussey out of business. McCormick moved his business to Chicago, Illinois, understanding that he could ship his reapers to more people along railroads than by water routes. He also realized that farming was becoming more popular in the West, and he wanted his business closer to the farmers. Hussey eventually sold his business in 1858 and died two years later.