The AO heritage began in 1826, when William Beecher, a Connecticut farm boy, came to Southbridge, after an apprenticeship in Providence, Rhode Island, where he learned the jeweler's trade. This trade he practiced in Southbridge for seven years before his fateful encounter with a pair of typically crude imported spectacles. 'I can do it better,' said William Beecher to himself and he went to work. The American optical industry was born at that moment. William Beecher fostered an enduring precept for the company that was to grow into the American Optical Company.