CONNECTICUT - THE LAND OF MANY FIRSTS
Updated: May 24, 2022
Who would have thought that Connecticut was home to the inventions and discoveries of many useful, random and enjoyable creations? Connecticut doesn’t get enough recognition for the important role it’s played in society.
The state’s nickname “The Constitution State” speaks for itself. In 1639, the first ever constitution was adopted in Connecticut, establishing representative government. The governing structure it lays out can still be seen throughout government today.
LAW SCHOOL (1774)
The first law school in America, Litchfield Law School, was founded in Connecticut and began teaching its first student in 1774. The law school and the founders home were declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965 as the Tapping Reeve House and Law School. The property now acts as a museum and historical society.
COTTON GIN (1794)
Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1794 which greatly increased the speed of removing seeds from cotton fiber. Whitney’s invention played into the hands of
slavery in the south. Whitney never made much from his patented invention due to patent infringement issues. Whitney went to Yale but invented the cotton gin after moving south for a short period after school.
Samuel Colt invented the first revolver in the Western Hemisphere in 1836. Born and raised in Hartford, CT, Colt was fascinated by the functionality of mechanical equipment and machinery such as his father’s firearms or the way a ship’s wheel would operate. On February 25th, 1836, Colt received a U.S. patent for his revolving-cylinder pistol.
The discovery of and use of anesthesia was in Hartford, CT. On December 10th, 1844, a Dentist name Horace Wells attended an event that demonstrated laughing gas (nitrous oxide) at Union Hall. Wells watched performers using the gas and noticed an injury to one of the users who didn’t seem to notice his injury. The very next day, Wells used the gas and had his wisdom tooth pulled. Success!
PAY PHONE (1889)
Remember the pay phone? Time to give Hartford, CT more recognition for it being the location where William Gray came up with the idea. The story says in 1889 Gray became upset when no one let him borrow their phone in order to call the doctor after his wife became ill. Original pay phones allowed for users to pay after their call and was initially based on an honor system.
1939 was the year of the first helicopter (in the western hemisphere.) On September 14th, the first practical helicopter took flight in Stratford, CT. Designed by Igor Sikorsky and built by the Vought-Sikorsky Aircraft Division of the United Aircraft Corporation. To this day, the Sikorsky corporation still holds its name and location in Stratford, CT. The VS-300 Helicopter that was first to take flight can still be viewed today at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
NUCLEAR SUBMARINE (1954)
The world’s first nuclear submarine was invented right here in Groton, CT. (USS Nautilus). The build began in 1952 under the order of Harry Truman and finished completion in 1954 when it was launched into the Thames River in CT. The submarine was 320ft long, held 105 crew members and had a top speed of 26mph. This made detecting the submarine very difficult for enemies. It’s first long journey from New London to San Juan, Puerto Rico took less than 90 hours! You can still visit the Nautilus today in Groton, CT to experience the history first hand.
SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT (1979)
Are you a fan of sports? If so, the year 1979 will mean a lot to you. On September 7th of that year, Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN), launched in Bristol, CT. After a short few months in a Plainville office, ESPN quickly moved and expanded on a large development in Bristol. The company has created an entire industry based on sports news and attracts approximately 115 million viewers a month as of 2021. With over 5,000 employees worldwide, they truly are the entertainment capital for sports.