The White Sewing Machine Company in Cleveland, Ohio, was established around 1870 and became second only to Singer as the largest sewing machine manufacturer in the world. Thomas White's sons Rollin, Windsor and Walter, began making steam cars in 1900 and sales to the public began the following year. In appearance the first Whites looked very much like other American steam cars such as the Locomobile, but there were technical differences, notably the use of a 'semi-flash' boiler which White preferred to be known as a generator. For 1902 horizontal-tube condensers were fitted to the cars, which increased their range, and in 1903 the engines were placed under a front bonnet and transmission was by propeller shaft to a bevel-geared back axle. In external appearance Whites from 1903 onwards looked much like petrol cars of the period.
The firm introduced a range of petrol cars in 1910, based on the French Delahaye, and steam car production was phased out in the following year. White passenger car production continued until 1918, when truck manufacture took precedence.