August 14: Were the Wright Brothers Wrong?

  One of the most controversial events in aviation history took place in Fairfield, Connecticut today in 1901, as inventor Gustave Whitehead is thought by many to have executed a half-mile-long flight in his Flying Machine No. 21 at a height of 50 feet off the ground — over two years before the Wright Brothers…

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…

July 14: A Tale of Two Tape Measures

  On July 14, 1868, Alvin Fellows of New Haven, Connecticut received a patent for his unique spring-loaded, locking tape measure design. While Fellows certainly wasn’t the first to conceive of using demarcated strips of metal tape as a measuring tool, his unique design featured significant improvements over previous tape measures and was the first…

July 12: Buckminster Fuller’s Car of the Future

  R. Buckminster Fuller, the inventor, architect, author, and futurist best known for his popularization of the geodesic dome, was one of the most prolific public intellectuals of the early 20th century. In the early 1930s, Fuller coined the word “Dymaxion” — a portmanteau of the words “dynamic,” “maximum,” and “tension” — and applied it…

May 24: The First Steam-Powered Ship to Cross the Atlantic

  Today in 1819, yet another chapter in Connecticut innovation was launched when Moses and Stevens Rogers of New London set sail on the first steam-powered ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Steam-powered technology was still in its infancy in 1818, when sea captain and entrepreneur Moses Rogers convinced investors in Georgia to finance his…

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…

May 5: Mary Kies Becomes First Woman to Receive a U.S. Patent

  On this day in 1809, Mary Kies of Killingly, Connecticut became the first woman in American history to obtain a patent.  Kies’ invention was described as “a new and useful improvement in weaving straw with silk or thread.” Little is known about Kies or the specifics of her patent, which was destroyed in 1836…

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 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…