Atlas Model Railroad
Atlas Model Railroad Company, Inc. makes scale models in N scale, HO scale, and O scale. The company is based out of Hillside, NJ. They produce a wide variety of locomotives, rolling stock, and vehicles. Atlas is well known for their flex track and codes 55, 80, 83 and 100 track. Atlas also makes structures and bridges.
In 1924 Stephan Schaffan Sr. founded the Atlas Tool Company in Newark, NJ. In 1933 his son, Stephan Schaffan Jr., came to work for his father at the age of sixteen. Steve Jr. built model airplanes as a hobby and frequented a local hobby shop. Being an enterprising young man, he would often ask the owner if there was anything he could do to earn some extra spending money. Tired of listening to his requests, the hobby-store owner threw some model railroad track parts his way and said, "Here, see if you can improve on this".
In those days, railroad modelers had to assemble and build everything from scratch. Steve Jr. created a "switch kit" which sold so well, that the entire family worked on them in the basement at night, while doing business as usual in the machine shop during the day.
Subsequently, Steve Jr. engineered the stapling of rail to fiber track, along with inventing the first practical rail joiner and pre-assembled turnouts and flexible track. All of these products, and more, helped to popularize model railroading and assisted in the creation of a mass-market hobby. The budding entrepreneur quickly outgrew the limitations of a basement and small garage operation. Realizing they could actually make a living selling track and related products, Steve and his father had the first factory built in Hillside, New Jersey at 413 Florence Avenue in 1947. On September 30th, 1949, Atlas Tool Company Inc. was officially incorporated as a New Jersey company.