December 11: The World’s First Gas Turbine-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,…

December 10: Horace Wells “Discovers” 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, and 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 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 9: 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 —…

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 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…

August 11: A New Haven Piano Maker Patents the Automatic Fire Sprinkler System

  As the Industrial Revolution fueled the growth of American cities at an unprecedented rate during the 19th century, the risk of urban fires increased in turn — especially in an era that preceded building and fire codes.  In response to the increase in fire-related damage claims, insurance rates for inner-city businesses skyrocketed in the…

July 23: Joseph Schick Patents a New Safety Razor

  On this day in 1929, former U.S. Army Colonel Joseph Schick, then residing in Stamford, Connecticut, patented a new type of safety razor that made shaving quicker, easier, and more affordable, and fueled the creation of one of America’s most recognizable personal hygiene brands. Born in 1877, Schick served in both the Spanish-American War…

July 21: Testing the World’s First Military Submarine — in 1776

  While Connecticut has been home to an outsized share of American innovators and creative geniuses, few of them have had as long-lasting an impact as David Bushnell, inventor of the Turtle — the world’s first combat submarine. Born in Saybrook in 1740, Bushnell decided at age 30 to sell his share of the family…