Baxter D. Whitney purportedly invented the rotary surface planer in 1837, which was introduced to the market in 1846. He made only single- and double-sided surface planers, avoiding the planer-matcher and four-sided planer markets controlled by the Woodworth patent monopoly.
Image courtesy Newman Machine Co.
Around 1857 a fixed-knife planer and a fixed-knife scraper were introduced that produced a better surface than the roughly scalloped surface of the rotary planers of the day (their wooden frames and crude bearings were insufficiently rigid to create a reasonably smooth surface using a cylindrical cutter-head).
From "A Treatise on the Construction and Operation of Wood-Working Machines" by John Richards, 1872.
Baxter Whitney died in 1915, aged 98. After the son, W. M. Whitney, died in 1953, the family sold the company to Newman Machine Company in 1955.
Many machines are branded, simply, "Whitney".
The Whitney section of the owwm.com wiki contains additional material on Whitney, including how to date your Whitney machine based on its serial number, plus there is a history of the Baxter D. Whitney Company reprinted from the January, 1957, issue of The Wood-Worker.
- Chandler Jones' "Planers, Matchers & Molders in America" gives a history of the company.
- A 1920 ad in The Wood-Worker shows their new direct-drive vertical boring machine.
- A three-page ad in 1955-56 Hitchcock's Wood Workers Digest Directory (HWWDD, published in 1954) introduces a new six-roll single surfacer and a new spindle shaper. An ad in 1964 HWWDD makes no mention of Newman. There was a line of vocational machinery that was distributed by Yates-American.