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Frank Holton was a professional trombone player with the famous John Philip Sousa in the 1890's, but his income wasn't enough to support his family. He started a side-business of selling Slide Oil. That still wasn't enough so he began repairing and selling used instruments. He also experimented with design improvements and in 1898 he created his first instrument, a 'Holton Special' trombone. Within 10 years, he had 100 employees making several different types of instruments. At first, Holton produced more expensive professional instruments, but by 1929 they successfully started to produce affordable student models as well. The company still exists today, as part of Conn-Selmer.