Brown & Sharpe was founded in 1833 on South Main Street in Providence, Rhode Island by David Brown and his son Joseph R. Brown. The elder Brown retired in 1841, and the younger Brown formed a partnership with Lucian Sharpe in 1853, giving the company its name.

The early years were full of innovations and inventions, including the first automatic machine for graduating rules (1850) and the precision Gear Cutting and Dividing Engine (1855).

Brown & Sharpe was one of the best-known and most influential machine tool builders and was a leading manufacturer of instruments for machinists (such as micrometers and indicators). Its reputation and influence were such that its name is often considered to be inseparably paired with certain industrial standards that it helped establish, including:

The American wire gauge (AWG) standards for wire;
The Brown & Sharpe taper in machine tool spindle tapers; and
The Brown & Sharpe worm threadform for worm gears.

In 2001, the Brown & Sharpe group is bought by the Swedish Hexagon AB group. However, the manufacturing group of Brown & Sharpe was not bought. All precision measurement products of Brown & Sharpe were already manufactured under the Tesa brand, and production (by Tesa) could be done elsewhere.

The Brown&Sharpe TESA brand is the global market leader in the field of height gauges and a pioneer thanks to its wide range of instruments, including calipers, micrometers, dial gauges, lever-type dial test indicators and inductive probes. TESA is a true benchmark for the inspection of incoming goods, as well as for production workshops and quality assurance laboratories.

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