Émile Salmson establised the company that bore his name in a workshop in Paris in 1890. It was initially set-up to make make steam-powered compressors and centrifugal pumps for railway and military purposes. Salmson was then joined by engineers Canton and Unné, so it was renamed Emile Salmson & Cie, and set-about building petrol-powered lifts and motors.
The company became one of the first to make purpose-built aircraft engines, starting before WW1 and continuing into WW2. During the inter-war years, the company looked around for other work and started making car bodies and then complete cars, but despite coming up with an interesting range of cars, automobile manufacture finished in 1957.