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Sypher, Obadiah Lum (10 October 1833–18 August 1907), antique dealer and furniture manufacturer, was born in Flushing, New York, the son of Abraham Sypher, a miller, and Abigail Ann Lum. Soon after Obadiah’s birth, the family moved to the township of Blooming Grove, in Orange County, New York, a region where large crops of wheat were grown and ground in gristmills along the streams. As the American West opened to farming, gristmills in New York became unprofitable, however, so they were shut down or redesigned for other uses. In 1850 Obadiah was living with his father and working as a miller. But in 1860 he was no longer living at home, and by 1863 he had moved to Manhattan, where he was working as a clerk in a furniture store owned by Daniel Marley. It is not known how Sypher became associated with Marley. It is possible that there was a connection through ...

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Tupper, Earl Silas (28 July 1907–03 October 1983), inventor, was born in Berlin, New Hampshire, the son of farmers. Soon after his birth the family moved to a farm in Massachusetts where young Tupper enjoyed buying and selling vegetables. After graduating from high school in 1926, Tupper turned his hobby into a small mail-order business for household items such as combs and toothbrushes. During this time the self-described “ham inventor and Yankee trader” found another area in which to tinker—chemical engineering. Tupper’s self-taught skills led him to Du Pont, where he worked as an engineer during the 1930s. While at Du Pont, Tupper became fascinated by plastic, an interest that continued through the remainder of his life....