January 24: A. C. Gilbert, the Greatest Generation’s Toymaker

  Today in 1961, A. C. “A. Co.” Gilbert, the man whose hands-on-learning toys were the foundation of the American toy industry during the first half of the twentieth-century, died at age 76. A gifted athlete and pole-vaulting gold-medalist at the 1908 London Olympics, Gilbert was also a talented illusionist who financed his Yale medical…

January 10: Legendary Arms Maker Samuel Colt Dies at 47

  Today in 1862, gunmaker Samuel Colt died in Hartford. Though he was just 47 years old, Colt died one of the richest men in the United States. He also left a legacy of manufacturing and innovation that changed the face of Hartford, and  whose impact was felt from Connecticut to the Western American frontier…

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 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 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  fly faster and higher, with less…

December 10: A Stage Show Leads Horace Wells to “Discover” Anesthesia

  On December 10, 1844, Hartford residents were treated to a special performance of famous showman and former medical student Gardner Colton’s “Laughing Gas Entertainment.” Colton had first encountered “laughing gas,” or nitrous oxide, while in medical school and soon found he could make quite a bit of money traveling the country demonstrating its hilarity-inducing…

December 2: The First Successful Permanent Artificial Heart

  Born in 1946, renowned medical scientist Robert Jarvik grew up in Stamford, Connecticut. He. developed an affinity for the medical field at an early age, having frequently accompanied his father, an accomplished physician, to work. As a young man, he became fascinated with the intricate tools his father used during surgeries, and invented a…

November 17: The First Clock Patent in United States History

  Today in 1797, inventor and famous clock manufacturer Eli Terry of Plymouth received the first clock-making patent ever issued in the United States, launching an incredible career in manufacturing that helped make Connecticut the epicenter of quality clock manufacturing for the duration of the 19th century. Born in the eastern division of Windsor in…

November 9: The First Person Buried in New Haven’s Grove Street Cemetery

  In the 1790s, a deadly epidemic of yellow fever swept throughout the eastern United States, hitting densely-populated urban centers like New Haven especially hard. As fever-related fatalities multiplied, the burying grounds located behind the churches on the New Haven green — which had been in operation for nearly 150 years at that point —…

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 20: John Fitch Launches a Transportation Revolution

  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…