February 25: Samuel Colt Finally Gets His Shot at Success.

  Today in 1836, Hartford inventor Samuel Colt — after being expelled from school, sailing the seas, and touring as a showman demonstrating the unusual effects of nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas” –received a U.S. patent for the first revolving chamber percussion pistol. This was a dramatically new type of firearm, which would revolutionize the…

February 22: The Great Ice Storm of 1898

  February 22, 1898 marked the third and final day of one of the worst ice storms ever seen in Connecticut. It was a storm for the ages, that decimated the northwest corner of the state not even 10 years after it reeled from the infamous Blizzard of 1888. While the storm brought rain to…

February 21: The World’s First Telephone Directory Had Only 50 Names

  Thanks to Connecticut inventor and innovator George Coy, the city of New Haven can lay claim to a number of “firsts” related to the early development of the telephone. Within two years after Alexander Graham Bell first patented the revolutionary communication device, Coy and his company had implemented a number of innovations — like…

February 2: The World’s First Two-Sided Building

  Today in 1961, the Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance Company unveiled plans for a new corporate headquarters building in downtown Hartford, featuring a bold and revolutionary elliptical design unlike anything the city — or the world, for that matter — had seen before. Designed by the famous modernist architect Max Abramovitz, the new Phoenix Mutual…

January 29: Time Runs Out for Seth Thomas, American Clockmaker

  While Connecticut has been home to many of the greatest names in American clock manufacturing, few have achieved more household recognition than Seth Thomas, whose name is emblazoned on countless clock faces throughout the world. Born in Wolcott, Connecticut in 1785, young Seth received little formal education, instead gaining hands-on experience, as a teenage…

January 21: World’s First Nuclear Submarine Launched at Groton

  On January 21, 1954, hundreds of spectators, including General Dynamics employees, military brass, First Lady Mamie Eisenhower, and scores of reporters gathered along the banks of the ThamesRiver to witness a momentous occasion. At 10:57a.m., the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear submarine, slid off a dry dock at General Dynamics in Groton, Connecticut,…

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 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 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…