Jan Ernst Matzeliger
Born September 15 1852 – Died August 24 1889
Jan Matzeliger invented the automatic shoe lasting machine, mechanizing the complex process of joining a shoe sole to its upper, and revolutionizing the shoe industry..
Matzeliger was born in Surinam (now Dutch Guiana) and was self-educated. He immigrated to the United States at age twenty, and ran a shoe-stitching machine for a manufacturer in Lynn, Massachusetts. Observing the hand lasters at the factory, he resolved to mechanize the one remaining manual bottoming process. With reference books and a secondhand set of drafting instruments, Matzeliger worked on his own time after long days at the factory. He built his first model out of wooden cigar boxes, elastic, and wire. After two years, his prototype was complete.