The National Carbon Company was founded in 1886 by the former Brush Electric Company executive W. H. Lawrence, in association with Myron T. Herrick, James Parmelee, and Webb Hayes, son of U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes, in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1890, National Carbon merged with Thomson-Houston, Standard Carbon, and Faraday Carbon.
The American Chemical Society designated the development of the Columbia dry cell battery as a National Historic Chemical Landmark on September 27, 2005. The commemorative plaques at Energizer in Cleveland and at Energizer headquarters in St. Louis read:
In 1896 the National Carbon Company (corporate predecessor of Energizer) developed the six-inch, 1.5 volt Columbia battery, the first sealed dry cell successfully manufactured for the mass market. The Columbia, a carbon-zinc battery with an acidic electrolyte, was a significant improvement over previous batteries, meeting consumer demand for a maintenance-free, durable, no-spill, inexpensive electrochemical power source. Finding immediate use in the rapidly expanding telephone and automobile industries, the Columbia launched the modern battery industry by serving as the basis for all dry cells for the next sixty years.