Ransom Eli Olds (June 3, 1864 – August 26, 1950) was a pioneer of the American automotive industry, for whom both the Oldsmobile and Reo brands were named. He claimed to have built his first steam car as early as 1894, and his first gasoline powered car in 1896.
Olds was born in Geneva, Ohio, the youngest son of blacksmith and pattern-maker Pliny Fiske Olds and his wife Sarah Whipple Olds. His parents moved the family to Cleveland, Ohio, when Olds was still a boy. He eventually settled in Lansing, Michigan, where he married Metta Ursula Woodward on June 5, 1889.
He founded the Olds Motor Vehicle Company in Lansing, Michigan, on August 21, 1897. The company was bought by a copper and lumber magnate named Samuel L. Smith in 1899 and renamed Olds Motor Works. The new company was relocated from Lansing to Detroit. Smith became President while Olds became vice president and general manager.