Timeline:  Owens-Illinois and the Glass Industry in Toledo 

 Illinois Glass Works, Alton, Illinois

1818:  New England Glass Company is founded in East Cambridge, Massachusetts.


August 28, 1873: Illinois Glass Company is founded in Alton, Illinois, by William Eliot Smith and Edward Levis Sr.


1878:  William L. Libbey takes over operations of the New England Glass Company, and brings his son, Edward Drummond Libbey, into the business.


1887:  Edward Drummond Libbey visits Toledo and decides to move the New England

Glass Company to the city.


1888:  New England Glass Company moves to Toledo.


August, 1888:   Michael Owens begins work at the new factory and becomes a supervisor three months later.


1890:  New England Glass begins production of electric light bulbs for Edison General Electric.


1892:  New England Glass changes its name to the Libbey Glass Company.


1893:  Libbey Glass constructs a model glass plant at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago and makes Libbey glass tableware the most famous in the world.


December 17, 1895: E. D. Libbey partners with Owens to found the Toledo Glass Company.                          


1897:  Edward Ford decides to leave Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. to open a new plate glass factory near Toledo. Construction on the new plant in Rossford, Ohio, started the following year.


1899:  Irving W. Colburn experiments with the creation of a sheet-glass machine.


An early edition of the Owens Bottle Machine, courtesy of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library1899:  Michael Owens designs a wheel-mounted bottle machine (Machine Number Two) and produces experimental bottles.


1899:  Plate glass production at Ford's Rossford plant begins; the Edward Ford Plate Glass Company is incorporated on November 11. 


1902:  Owens completes work on the first fully successful automatic bottle-blowing machine, Machine Number Four.  On September 3, 1903, the Owens Bottle Machine Co. opens for business with the former machine's successor, Machine A. This marked the first use of the automatic bottle-making machine created by Michael J. Owens with the help of engineer William Emil Bock.


1904:  The American Flint Glass Workers Union headquarters moves to Toledo.


August, 1906:  The Colburn Machine Glass co. is formed.  The company installs drawing machines at two factories in 1908 but the company goes bankrupt in 1911 before the technology is perfected.


1907:  The first machine-blown glass tumblers are produced.


1907:  The Nicholas Building becomes headquarters for Libbey Glass and the Owens Bottle Machine Co.


1908:  The Owens Bottle Machine Company begins to produce glass containers.


1912:  Improved AR type bottle machine with 10 arms introduced.


1912:  The Toledo Glass Company buys Colburn's patents; Colburn is hired soon after.


1913:  The Owens Bottle Machine Company is commended by the National Child Labor Committee, proclaiming that the Owens machine has done more to eliminate child labor than any legislative efforts.


November, 1913:  The Toledo Glass experimental plant refines the Colburn process and on Thanksgiving (November 25) the first draw of sheet glass at Toledo Glass Co. takes place.


An early edition of the Owens Bottle Machine, courtesy of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library1916:  The Libbey-Owens Sheet Glass Company is organized.


1916:  Owens Bottle Machine Company stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.


1919:  The Owens Bottle Machine Company changes its name to the Owens Bottle Company.


1920:  Edward Ford dies; son George Ross Ford takes over as president and treasurer of Edward Ford Plate Glass Company.


December 27, 1923:  Michael Owens dies.


November 13, 1925:  Edward Drummond Libbey dies.


1926:  The Ford Plate Glass Company obtains a license for the Bicheroux process for casting plate glass through water-cooled rollers.


1929:  The Owens Bottle Co. acquires the assets of Illinois Glass Co. of Alton, Illinois, and renames itself the Owens-Illinois Glass Co., making it the largest glassThe Ohio Bank Building, the home of Owens-Illinois from 1930-1982 company in the world.


1930:  The Edward Ford Plate Glass Company and the Libbey-Owens Sheet Glass Company merge to form Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass Company.


1932:  O-I Glass develops a vacuum packing machine (for coffee) and begins producing plastic closures.


1933:  O-I displays new materials such as glass fibers and glass block at Chicago Century of Progress World's Fair.


1935:  Owens-Illinois moves into the former Ohio Savings Bank and Trust Co. building on Madison Avenue.


1935:  O-I Glass acquires Libbey Glass Co., which becomes a subsidiary and later an operating division (1943).


1938:  O-I and Corning Glass Works form Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp.


1939:  Owens-Illinois Glass Co., Corning Glass Co., and Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. set up exhibits at New York World's Fair.


1946:  O-I acquires Kimble Glass and begins production of television picture tubes.


1953:  O-I helps establishes Keep America Beautiful, a non-profit, anti-litter organization.


1954:  The company's corporate name changes to Owens-Illinois, Inc.


mid 1950's:  O-I experiments with plastics.  In 1958 the company makes the first blown plastic containers using high density polyethylene and opens its first foreign glass container plant in Cuba.


1959:  Owens-Illinois is named one of the 30 Dow Jones industrial average stocks.


1960:  Libbey-Owens-Ford's new headquarters building opens in downtown Toledo.


1968:  Owens-Illinois surpasses $1 billion in annual sales for the first time.


1968:  Libbey Glass celebrates its 150th anniversary.


1976:  William Niehous, vice president and general manager of Owens-Illinois de Venezuela, is kidnapped from his home by revolutionaries.  He is rescued almost three-and-a-half years later.


1982:  Owens-Illinois opens its new world headquarters building in downtown Toledo at One SeaGate. Plans for the Seagate Center


1983:  The American Society of Mechanical Engineers designates the Owens Bottle Machine as an International Historic Engineering Landmark.


1985:  Glassmaking operations of Libbey-Owens-Ford are acquired by Pilkington Ltd.; LOF's other divisions are split off and become TRINOVA Corp.


1987:  Owens-Illinois becomes privately owned after being acquired by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, which bought the company for $3.66 billion.


1988:  O-I buys Brockway Glass, Inc.  This merger gives the company 40 percent of the nation's glass container market.


1991:  The firm again offers publicly traded stock.


1993:  Libbey Glass is spun off as a separate company.


1995:  O-I's plastics and closures division becomes a billion-dollar business for the first time.


2000:  Worldwide shipments of glass containers by the company and its affiliates reach a record of approximately 100 million per day.


2002:  O-I shares fall $3.71, or 21 percent, in two days in April as investors react to the firm's announcement of a $475 million accounting charge to increase its asbestos-liability reserve.  (The increase in the reserve is the second in two years.)


May 2003:  The company announces the possibility of moving from downtown Toledo when its lease expires at One SeaGate in 2006.


September 3, 2003:  Owens-Illinois celebrates its 100th anniversary with 34,000 employees and $5.6 billion in annual sales.            


September 2006:  Owens-Illinois, Inc. moves into its new headquarters building in Perrysburg.  


Last Updated: 7/1/19