January 17: Hartford Takes an Electrifying Gamble, and then Gambles Again.

  On January 17, 1901, the Hartford Electric Light Company (HELCO) took a major — and somewhat risky — step into the steam-powered future with the delivery of a huge, innovative, first-of-its-kind steam-turbine-powered generator. The massive 90,000-pound machine arrived on a custom-designed railroad car following a long journey from the Westinghouse Machine Company of Pittsburgh,…

January 10: Legendary Arms Maker Samuel Colt Dies at 47

  Today in 1862, Samuel Colt, a man who had endured years of  failed business ventures before finding both fame and fortune in Hartford, died suddenly  at age 47, one of the richest men in the United States..  In just 15  years,  Colt had created a  record  of innovation in marketing and  manufacturing  whose impact…

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: Cutting-Edge Teamwork Turns A Starr Into A Star

  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 40 miles away. After the sun rose, strange rocks could be found on…

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

  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 fly faster and higher, with less…

November 14: Paul Sperry (and His Dog) Invent 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: Rolling Out the “Best Built Car in America”

  Today 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. Since its founding in 1899, the Locomobile Company, whose headquarters and…

September 1: The Root of Connecticut’s Industrial Greatness

  The largely unknown man at the center of Connecticut’s 19th century industrial greatness – Elisha King Root – died in Hartford today in 1865. Root’s machine tool genius first revolutionized axe production in Collinsville and then made the Colt Firearms Company a worldwide icon of precision manufacturing. Born in western Massachusetts in 1808, Root…

August 29: Wind Power for the Prairies

  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…