Idea Design Studio Looks Back on First US Patents

History has a way of repeating itself and the team at Idea Design Studio wants inventors to learn from the past. In 1790, the US Government passed the first patent law, but only three patents were granted that year. By 1836 there were almost 10,000 patents issued. Idea Design Studio take a look at some of the very first patents issued.

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  • Samuel Hopkins of Vermont was issued the first patent for his invention that improved “the making of Pot ash and Pearl ash by a new apparatus and Process.”


  • Patent number two was granted to Joseph Sampson’s invention that aided in the “manufacturing of candles.” He continued to work with candles, later on contributing to the invention of the continuous wick.


  • The automated flour mill, invented by Oliver Evans was number three, also in 1790. Later on he also patented the Oruktor Amphibolos, a whimsical looking dredge.


  • In 1971, patent number 4 was granted to Francis Bailey, who printed the first copy of the Articles of Confederation, and invented “punches of type.”


  • Aaron Putnam’s invention improved the distilling process, just before the Whiskey Rebellion, and for that he was granted patent number 5. Thought what Putnam was distilling was not included in the paperwork.


  • A pile driver for bridges, patented by John Stone in 1791, saved several hundred man hours.


  • Patents 7 through 10 covered inventions all by the same man, Samuel Muliken. His inventions included a “machine for threshing grain and corn,” braking hemp, cutting and polishing marble, and raise a nap on cloths.


Idea Design Studio enjoys looking back through the first few patents issued. Although when the first patents were housed in a new, fire-resistant building, they were ultimate destroyed by fire. These first patents are collectively referred to as ‘X-patents’ and barebones records are relied upon for historical significance.

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