The Fox typewriter was named after William R. Fox, president of the Fox Machine Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Mr. Fox was not just a name on the letterhead, however. In 1879, while living in Connecticut, Fox patented what was possibly was the first workable "universal" miter trimmer. About 1880, Fox moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, later to open the Fox Machine Company. When first established, the company's principal products were machines used in the wood working industry, for which many patents were issued, and it was still manufacturing in 1915 when Mr. Fox sold both it and his typewriter company.
In the late 1890s, the Fox Machine Company expanded into typewriter production, enjoying quick success with their upstrike machines. At the time, William Fox was involved in a bitter and long-running feud with a competitor, William Perkins, who formerly had employed Fox. It was an ugly battle. In 1894, Fox teamed up with Glen Barrett, who had been working independently on adding machine and calculator designs, and the two began to work together on a typewriter.
In 1898, the first Fox typewriters were produced and enjoyed quick success due to their speed and several unique design features. In 1902, the Fox Typewriter Company was organized and went on to produce the Fox front-strike typewriter. William Fox sold the company before the Fox portable was produced.