Founded in 1795 by Johann Jacob Rieter (1762–1826), the company initially produced textile products. In 1806, as Napoleon imposed the Continental Blockade to prevent trade between Continental Europe and the United Kingdom, it became impossible for Rieter to get spare parts for its British textile machinery. As a consequence, the company started to produce spare parts themselves, and in 1810 the first self-designed textile machine left its workshop.
In 1982, Rieter acquired the British textile machinery company Ernest Scragg & Sons Ltd.
In 2011, the automotive products division, formerly Rieter Automotive, separated from Rieter and became a new corporation; Autoneum.