May 13: Hartford’s Pope Company Debuts Electric Automobile in 1897

  On this date in 1897, outside his factory in Hartford, successful bicycle manufacturer Albert Augustus Pope unveiled what he considered to be the future of the automobile industry: the battery-powered Columbia Motor Carriage.  It was the first demonstration of a mass-produced electric car in American history. Weighing in at 1800 pounds and reaching a…

May 7: Edwin Land, Inventor & Founder of Polaroid

  Today in 1909, Edwin Land, a self-taught inventor and co-founder of Polaroid who revolutionized the way the world experienced photography, was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. After graduating from the Norwich Free Academy in southeastern Connecticut (which later named their library after their famous alumnus), Land attended Harvard University for one year before dropping out…

April 25: Winchester Takes Aim At The Rifle Industry.

  In early 1857, businessman Oliver Winchester bought a controlling interest in a struggling Connecticut firearms company from two inventors by the name of Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson (who would soon move to Massachusetts to found a second and successful eponymous firearms venture of their own).  With access to machine tools, raw materials, and…

April 22: Noah Webster Calls for Environmental Sustainability – in 1817!

  On this day in 1817, Noah Webster’s visionary essay on environmental sustainability, which he modestly titled “Domestic Consumption,” was published on the front page of the Connecticut Courant.  Born in what is now West Hartford, Connecticut and a graduate of Yale College, Webster is best known to history as the creator of the first American…

April 13: Eli Terry, Revolutionary Inventor and Clockmaker

  Eli Terry, the man who revolutionized clock manufacturing and whose timepieces have been featured in millions of American homes, was born in South Windsor (then a part of East Windsor), Connecticut on this day in 1772. Terry was a mechanical engineering prodigy who set his ambitions into motion at an early age, apprenticing himself…

April 12: Invention of the Portable Typewriter

  On this day in 1892, George Canfield Blickensderfer of Stamford patented the first successful portable typewriter, one of the most transformative examples of Yankee ingenuity to ever come from the Constitution State. Blickensderfer’s machine used a radical, minimalist design that contained up to 90% fewer parts than the heavier, more complicated desk typewriters that…

April 10: David Humphreys Brings the Sheep That Shaped New England

  Have a merino wool scarf or sweater that you absolutely love? You can probably thank Connecticut native David Humphreys for that. David Humphreys, born in Derby in 1752, was one of the most accomplished Connecticut men of the Early Republic.  A Yale graduate, he served under General Israel Putnam in the Revolutionary War and,…

April 3: The Sewing Machine Patent Wars

  Inventor and longtime Connecticut resident Elias Howe Jr. may not have invented the first sewing machine, but he was the first person to obtain a U.S. patent for one in 1846.  Howe’s success in patenting his novel “lockstitch” sewing machine, which was the first to feature the automatic thread feed that remains a crucial…

March 30: Helicopter Pioneer Igor Sikorsky Arrives in United States

  One of Connecticut’s greatest immigrant success stories began on this day when Russian-born Igor Sikorsky first arrived on American shores.   While Sikorsky is best known as the inventor of the world’s first practical helicopter and the founder of the Sikorsky Aircraft manufacturing company headquartered in Stratford, Connecticut, he first made a name for himself…

March 28: Aquaculture Comes Out Of Its Shell.

  By the time the U.S. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries first assigned a resident scientist to study Connecticut’s shellfish industry in the 1920s, Connecticut residents had been harvesting oysters and clams from the waters of Long Island Sound for hundreds of years.  Created in the late 19th century, the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries’ mission was…

March 27: Staffordville Dam Burst Causes Cascading Chaos

  During the second half of the nineteenth century, as more and more mills and factories popped up along the banks of the Willimantic River’s northern branch in eastern Connecticut, a number of factory owners banded together to form the Stafford (or Staffordville) Reservoir Company with the aim of regulating the flow of water that…