Happy 120th Birthday, Chilton!

3 min read

| By Chilton Staff |

James Artman is known as the founder of Chilton Company. Artman was already a publisher when George H. Buzby and C. A. Musselman joined him to establish Chilton Co. on March 31, 1904, in Philadelphia. Celebrating 120 years since its founding, Chilton became a successful publisher and research company—however, it all started with bicycles.

In the 1800s, few could afford a horse and buggy, and even that conveyance would be lucky to travel 20 miles a day—if a road even existed. Hence, the popularity of the bicycle! Bicycles gave more people the freedom to travel and quickly cover more distance than on foot.

Bicycles also literally paved the way for the automobile, as increasing bicycle use led to building more roads. It also brought traffic signs and rules, and even shops where bicyclists could stop for service—precursors of the modern service station.[1]

Artman published the first edition of the Cycle Trade Journal in 1896, illuminating bicycle repair, parts, and new technology. But even before Oldsmobile built the first assembly line in 1903, and before Ford created the model T in 1908, Artman had the foresight to broaden the journal to include “horseless carriages.” In 1899, he added automobiles to his journal, renaming it the Cycle & Automobile Trade Journal. Then in 1904, as the automobile industry boomed, the new Chilton Co. grew with it.

New automobiles sparked a need for magazines and journals, in part to explain to the public how they worked. Early automobiles weren’t for the faint-hearted. They were noisy, smelly, unreliable, and dangerous—and they required constant maintenance. In an early Chilton publication, Artman describes a test drive:

From early automobiles’ rocky beginnings, they have improved immensely over the years. Along with the evolution of the vehicle, Chilton publications have been there to explain things pretty much from the start. Today, Chilton continues its legacy of providing essential information for auto repair and maintenance.

The ChiltonLibrary knowledge base includes both early Chilton manuals in digital form and comprehensive factory service manual information for newer vehicles. Every day, ChiltonLibrary is available online for library users when they need it—for oil changes, brake pads, engine repairs, and more.

As an example, the following ChiltonLibrary excerpt shows the first step of the 2023 Ford F-150 spark plug inspection procedure.

ChiltonLibrary is online for library users 24/7. Not a current subscriber? Spark joy and provide invaluable guidance for car owners by offering ChiltonLibrary. Connect with your Gale consultant or request a free trial.

[1]Bailey, Diana. How the Automobile Changed History. Minneapolis: ABDO Publishing, 2016

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