R. E. Olds founded Olds Motor Works in 1897 and was the first to conceive of a small, affordable car. His creation, known as the Curved Dash Olds, was released in 1901. This car went on to become the best-selling car in America between 1903 and 1905. When Olds received pressure from the board of directors in 1904 to drop the Curved Dash in favor of building larger, more expensive cars, he quit.
He lost no time in starting a new car company, REO, based on his own initials. Not one to back down from a fight, the first year’s models released by REO included cars that competed directly with Oldsmobile. REO was so successful that their cars outsold those of Oldsmobile in 1906.
However, when Henry Ford released the Model T in 1908, everything changed. REO made changes in their offerings to remain competitive, but eventually they ceased manufacturing autos during the Great Depression. Afterwards, REO concentrated solely on the manufacture of commercial vehicles.