Henry Steinweg was born in Germany in 1797. At a young age he began building musical instruments. After making a zither he found work with a company making organs. He made his first piano at home and presented it as a wedding gift to his bride, Juliane Thiemer, in 1825.
After the failed German Revolution in 1848, Steinway decided to move his family to America. He changed his name to Steinway and found work in a piano factory. In March, 1853, he established Steinway & Sons in Manhattan. The company prospered and its first upright piano, built in 1866, was especially popular.
All of Steinway's seven children worked in the business. In 1870, one son returned to Germany to open and manage a Steinway factory in Hamburg. Henry Steinway died in 1871.