Michael Joseph Owens

Michael Joseph Owens
Born (1859-01-01)January 1, 1859
Mason County, West Virginia, US
Died December 27, 1923(1923-12-27) (aged 64)
Toledo, Ohio, US

Engineering career

Projects automated production of glass bottles
Awards Elliott Cresson Medal (1915)

Michael Joseph Owens (January 1, 1859 December 27, 1923) was an inventor of machines that could automate the production of glass bottles.[1]


He was born in Mason County, West Virginia on January 1, 1859. He left school at the age of 10 to start a glassware apprenticeship at J. H. Hobbs, Brockunier and Company in Wheeling, West Virginia.

A ten-arm owens automatic bottle machine, ca 1910, photo by Jacob Riis.

In 1888 he moved to Toledo, Ohio and worked for the Toledo Glass Factory owned by Edward Drummond Libbey. He was later promoted to foreman and then to supervisor. He formed the Owens Bottle Machine Company in 1903. His machines could produce glass bottles at a rate of 240 per minute, and reduce labor costs by 80%.[2]

Owens and Libbey entered into a partnership and the company was renamed the Owens Bottle Company in 1919. In 1929 the company merged with the Illinois Glass Company to become the Owens-Illinois Glass Company.[3][4]

He died on December 27, 1923.[5]



  1. "Michael Joseph Owens". The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. Retrieved 2013-08-06.
  2. "Hall of Fame -- Inventor Profile: Michael Joseph Owens". National Inventors Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
  3. "Michael Joseph Owens". Today in Science. Retrieved 2012-09-27. Michael Owens was a glass manufacturer who invented an automatic glass bottle manufacturing machine that revolutionized the industry. His mechanization of the glass-blowing process eliminated child labor from glass-bottle factories, which he had himself experienced from the age of ten. [...]
  4. "The American Society of Mechanical Engineers Designates the Owens "AR" Bottle Machine As An International Historic Engineering Landmark" (PDF). ASME. May 17, 1983. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
  5. "Michael J. Owens Dead. His Inventions Revolutionized Methods of Bottle Making". New York Times. December 28, 1923. Retrieved 2011-11-20.

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