Hoe was born in New York City. He was the son of Robert Hoe (1784–1833), an English-born American mechanic who, with his brothers-in-law, Peter and Matthew Smith, established a steam-powered manufactory of printing presses in New York City, which Richard joined at fifteen. He became a senior member of his father's firm in 1833. On his father's death, he became head of the R. Hoe & Company.
In 1843, Richard invented a lightning press," and "Hoe's Cylindrical-Bed Press," and was later developed into the "Hoe web perfecting press."
In 1870 he developed a rotary press that printed both sides of a page in a single operation. Hoe's press took a roll of paper five miles long, which was put through the machine at the rate of 800 feet (240 m) a minute. As the sheets came out, they were passed over a knife which cut them apart, and then they were then run through an apparatus which folded them for the mail or for carriers. These completely printed and folded newspapers were delivered as quickly as the eye could follow them.
Early on, Hoe added the production of steel saws to his business and introduced improvements to their manufacture. In 1837, he visited England and obtained a patent for a better process of grinding saws. In connection with his factory, Hoe established an apprentice's school where free instruction was given.
Hoe lived with his wife, Mary, on a vast 53-acre (210,000 m2) estate, called Brightside, in the
- An illustration of the Hoe web perfecting press.
- Old House on the Property of West Farms, Residence of R.M. Hoe by D.J. Kennedy, Historical Society of Pennsylvania