Self-educated builder who reinvented the mandolin at the end of the 19th century, turning the gourd-shaped "potato bugs" into flat top and back models. Born Chateagay, New York in 1856. By 1881 he was in Kalamazoo, Michigan, working as a shoe clerk. With both love for woodworking and music, and thoughts of instrument design, his research convinced him that the best properties for sound vibration came from unbent, unstressed, carved wood. He applied violin construction ideas, including carved tops and backs instead of flat ones, to guitars and mandolins. They became an hit when introduced in 1894. His instruments from this era are known for their star-and-crescent logos, inlaid butterfly pickguards, beautiful filigree, and warm, full tone. He incorporated his company as the Gibson Mandolin Guitar Co, Ltd. in 1902.