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Willard Legrand Bundy Biography

Willard Legrand Bundy was born on December 8th, 1845 in Otego, New York. He invented and patented an early version of the time recorder, a mechanical device which recorded when workers clocked in and out of work. Encouraged by his brother, Harlow Bundy, Willard entered into business with him, and they founded and incorporated Bundy Manufacturing Company in 1889.  The Bundy Manufacturing Company was extremely successful and grew into one of the major industries in the Binghamton area. Their products were much needed by business and factories, both large and small, since industrialization had turned time into an increment of payment and because the device was considerably more efficient than human time keepers.

Willard served initially as superintendent and, with the company’s success, eventually became responsible for the management of over 135 skilled employees. Bundy Manufacturing Company established offices in principle cities all over the United States. In 1900, Bundy Manufacturing Company merged with several other time recorder companies and became International Time Recorder Company (ITR). ITR truly was an international company and had offices all over the world, including England, France, Germany and Canada. Willard continued to invent and patent time recorders and other mechanisms for both companies.

In 1903, Willard Bundy left the Bundy Manufacturing Company and ITR.  The brothers’ relationship had been tense for several years, beginning when Willard’s son was discharged from the company in 1900. Two years later in March 1902, Willard H. Bundy (the son who had been fired) received a patent for a new time recorder and incorporated the rival Bundy Time Recording Company in Syracuse to manufacture it. Shortly thereafter, Harlow discharged Willard L. Bundy claiming he, and not his son, was the real inventor and had violated his contract with the original Bundy Company. Willard denied the allegations, but left the company in 1903, moving with his wife and his two sons and their respective families to Syracuse, where his sons and Willard’s wife, Esther Decatur Sweet, formally incorporated the Bundy Time Recording Company.

The name was later changed to W.H. Bundy Recorder Company, and they some success and became recognized as one of the major time recorder manufacturers of Syracuse. Both Bundy Manufacturing Company and ITR filed numerous lawsuits against W.H. Bundy Recorder Company from 1903 to 1907, and legal battles ensued over patent rights regarding Bundy Time Recorders, violations of Willard L. Bundy’s contract with the original company, and the use of the Bundy name to sell time recording clocks.

In January of 1907, Willard L. Bundy passed away in his home in Syracuse. His invention forever impacted the workplace, and the concept of using a machine to clock in and out still exists in business all over the world. Although he left, Willard played an undeniable role in the success of Bundy Manufacturing Company both as inventor, founder and employee. The company founded around his invention was renamed International Business Machines in 1924.

If you would like to learn more of Willard Legrand Bundy, please visit the Bundy Museum! You may also read more of W.H. Bundy Recorder Company on the Bundy Blog.


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