Horton was first seen revealing his android creation, dubbed the Human Torch's existence to the world at a press conference in New York City, but the reactionary press dubbed the android a menace. Horton felt pressured into burying the Torch in cement until he could devise a way to control the Torch's flames. However, the Torch was able to escape; Horton was ostracized from the scientific community, and the government impounded his equipment. The Torch learned to control his powers, and cut his ties with his creator.
Horton moved to Boston and created another android named Adam II, who rebelled against his creator. The Torch and his partner Toro came to visit professor Horton, but Adam captured them as well. The Patriot freed Adam's captives, and the All-Winners Squad defeated Adam (at the cost of the second Captain America's life), leading to Adam's destruction in an automobile accident.
In 1955, the Human Torch was believed to have been destroyed, shattering Horton's dreams of glory once more. Horton disappeared from public eye, working as a repairman under the alias "Thomas Raye", and drinking heavily. He married late in life to a woman with a daughter named Frankie, who was given her stepfather's assumed surname. Her mother died soon after the marriage, leading Horton to drink even more.
When Frankie was a young girl, Horton learned of the existence of the Fantastic Four, a member of which team went by the name of the Human Torch. Horton took Frankie to an abandoned chemical company to try to construct a new Human Torch of his own. As Frankie was carrying a drum of chemicals for her father, she fell and the chemicals engulfed her in flames, mutating her into a superhuman being like the Torches. Horton felt responsible for what happened, planting a post-hypnotic suggestion in Frankie that would make her forget what happened and fear fire. Horton was ashamed, and disappeared while Frankie was still in a trance, never to have contact with her again except for the money he sent her regularly.
The android superhero Vision had been duped by Immortus into believing that Horton had created him out of the remains of the original Human Torch. When an international agency capture the Vision and erased his memory, they tracked down the now elderly Horton to force him to reprogram the Vision. Horton, of course, had never worked on the Vision before and did not know how to fix him. When the West Coast Avengers came to rescue the Vision, they instead found him dismantled along with the imprisoned Phineas Horton. Horton was able to help the Avengers find the Torch's resting place, and the Scarlet Witch was able to use her powers to reactivate the android Human Torch. It would later be revealed that this Horton was actually a Space Phantom, used by Immortus to further deceive the Avengers.