E.W. Bliss was born EIiphaIet WiIIiams Bliss, the son of a physician. He went to work on a farm at ten, showed an early aptitude by making and selling toys for pocket money, and was apprenticed to Charles W. Metcalf, who ran a general machine shop probably in or near Cooperstown, NY. After completing his apprenticeship, Bliss worked in the Syracuse shops of the New York Central railroad and then for the Charles Parker gun factory in Meriden, Conn. He was managing that factory four years later when he enlisted for the first battle of Bull Run.
After the war he returned to Meriden but soon moved to Brooklyn, NY, to serve as superintendent for Andrew Campbell, producing printing presses. Bliss went to New Haven to start his own business, which failed, and in 1867, he returned to Brooklyn and started a partnership with John Mays. After five years, Mays sold his interest to Bliss' cousin, J. H. Williams for $15,000. After another ten years, Bliss bought Williams out for $10,000, forming the E. W. Bliss Co. Later Bliss acquired his principal competitor, the Styles & Parker Press Co., and, at the time of his death, the Bliss factory covered 85 blocks in Brooklyn and employed 13,000 people.