January 10: Samuel Colt, Legendary Gun Manufacturer, Dies at 47

  Today in 1862, gunmaker Samuel Colt died in Hartford. Though he was only 47 years old, Colt died one of the richest men in the United States and left a legacy of manufacturing and innovation that changed the face of Hartford, Connecticut to the Western American frontier and beyond. Internationally recognized for his formative…

January 5: Ezra Warner Invents the Can Opener

  In the early 1800s, responding to Napoleon’s request to find a more efficient way to feed his armies in the field, French inventor Nicholas Appert discovered that heating food stored in glass jars would sterilize it, keeping it safe to eat for long periods of time.  Shortly thereafter, Englishman Peter Durand invented a similar…

December 31: Middletown’s Nathan Starr Arms the Nation

  As a major in the Continental Army, Nathan Starr forged and repaired weapons as part of his service during the Revolutionary War.  After the war was over, Starr returned to his hometown of Middletown, Connecticut, and made a living manufacturing blades of a different sort: mostly agricultural tools like scythes for local farmers. In…

December 19: A Stitch in Time Pays Off for Connecticut Inventor

  While the Industrial Revolution forever changed the way Americans manufactured, bought, and sold everyday goods, fewer inventions had a larger impact on home life for American families than the sewing machine.  While there had been several experimental and industrial models of sewing machines in existence since the earliest years of the 19th century, smaller…

December 14: The First Recorded Meteorite Strike in the United States

  At approximately 6:30am on December 14, 1807, residents of Fairfield County were startled by the sight of a blazing fireball in the early morning sky, followed by the terrifying sound of three loud explosions that could be heard as far as forty miles away.  After the sun rose, strange rocks could be found on…

December 11: The World’s First Jet-Powered Helicopter

  Today in 1951, aerospace engineer Charles H. Kaman’s modified K-225 helicopter took its first test flight in Bloomfield, Connecticut, changing the future of helicopter aviation forever.  As the first helicopter to use a jet engine to power its drive shaft, the K-225 demonstrated a way to make helicopters able to fly faster and higher,…

November 14: Paul Sperry Invents the Boat Shoe

  Today in 1939, New Haven-born sailor-turned-shoemaker Paul Sperry received a patent for one of the most famous and enduring pieces of American footwear: the Sperry Top-Sider, or “boat shoe.” Born in 1895, Sperry’s life revolved around the sea; growing up along the Connecticut coast, he developed a lifelong love for sailing at an early…

November 2: The “Best Built Car in America” Hits the Road

  On this day in 1902, the Locomobile Company of America delivered its first four-cylinder, gasoline-powered car, designed by engineer and former racecar driver Andrew Riker, who personally drove the $4,000 car from Bridgeport, Connecticut to New York City to present it to its new owner. The Locomobile Company, whose headquarters and main factory were…

September 1: Industrial Genius Elisha K. Root Dies in Hartford

  The man at the root of Connecticut’s 19th century industrial greatness – Elisha King Root – died in Hartford on this day in 1865. Root’s machine tool genius revolutionized axe production in Collinsville and the Colt Firearms Company in Hartford an worldwide icon of precision manufacturing. Born in western Massachusetts in 1808, Root became…

August 29: America’s First Self-Regulating Windmill

  During the first half of the 19th century, as thousands of Americans journeyed westward in search of new fortunes, necessity became the mother of invention as would-be farmers were forced to adapt to new climates and topographies that were unlike anything they had ever seen before.  Since the Great Plains generally lacked the forests…

August 27: First Chemotherapy Treatment in the United States

  On this day in Connecticut history, in 1942, physicians at Yale University made medical history as they administered the first use of intravenous chemotherapy as a cancer treatment in the United States.  This medical milestone was the culmination of years of research, including top-secret experiments involving mustard gas that a handful of Yale doctors…

August 20: John Fitch Shows Off America’s First Steamboat

  Today in 1787, Connecticut-born inventor John Fitch successfully sailed America’s first steamboat up the Delaware River in hopes of gathering financial support from influential members of Congress. Born in Windsor, Connecticut in 1743, Fitch displayed an insatiable drive for dabbling in mechanics at an early age.  As a young man, he tried his hand…