In case you didn’t know, August is National Inventors Month, started in 1995 by the United Inventors Association, the Academy of Applied Science and Inventors Digest Magazine as a way to promote the image and contributions off inventors. Connecticut inventors have and continue to play a huge role in the “inventiveness” of our country. Every three minutes nationwide a patent is granted to an inventor by the US Patent Office and in Connecticut last year about 1500 patents were granted to Connecticut inventors.
So, between all this hoopla over inventors month, I now present to you my top ten Connecticut Inventors and their inventions, in no certain order. Feel free to disagree, I’m sure I’ll change my mind soon enough……
1. William Gray-modern baseball catchers chest protector(1883), a version of a catchers mask(1896). Can you tell I used to play catcher in Little League? He also invented the pay telephone…..
2. David N. Mullaney. The “Wiffleball”(1953) Because nothing feels better than crushing a “Wiffleball” in your backyard like Babe Ruth.
3. Louis Lassen. The Hamburger (1895). A great burger is an American tradition. No ketchup allowed!
4. Whomever invented the Steamed Cheeseburger. Heaven between a bun. The best are served at Ted’s in Meriden.
5. Gustave Whitehead. I’m pretty convinced he flew in Connecticut before Orville and Wilbur did in Kitty Hawk.
6. Igor Sikorsky. Another aviation pioneer, flew first helicopter in 1939. All these early aviation guys are heroes to me. Check out pics of Sikorsky flying in his open cockpit helicopter, wearing nothing but a suit and top hat!! These guys had guts….
7. David Bushnell. Inventor of the submarine From Saybrook Connecticut. His submarine, the “Turtle” was basically a one man, self propelled creation that was invented and used, unsuccessfully, in the American Revolution. Over 200 years ago! In the Revolutionary War!! Amazing…..The Connecticut River Museum has a great recreation of his sub.
8. Benny Capalbo. Speaking of subs, Benny invented the sub sandwich in New London Connecticut. Salami, provolone, lettuce, tomato, salt, pepper, olive oil. More heaven between a bun so to speak…..Update: I had a GREAT one the other day at Nardelli’s in Waterbury.
9. Samuel Colt. Inventor of the Revolving Pistol. We’ve got a huge collection of his stuff here at the museum so I guess he should be in here. Figured out mass production way before Henry Ford.
10. PT Barnum. I’m not a big circus guy but he did some amazing things and lived a remarkable life. His three ring circus is legendary. Plus he had a great quote “Build it and sell the hell out of it, then they will come”.