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On this day in 1790, the first U.S. patent was issued to Samuel Hopkins

July 31, 2023

|Recurring Event (See all)

An event every year that begins at 12:00 am on day 31 of July, repeating indefinitely

On this day in 1790, the first U.S. patent was issued to Samuel Hopkins for an apparatus used to make pearlash and potash (types of ash used for soap, leavening, fertilizer, and industry). The patent was signed by both President George Washington and future president Thomas Jefferson.

The U.S. Patent Office had been created earlier that same year, founded on words from Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution: “Congress shall have the power…to promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” Since then, over 10 million patents have been issued. 🔬⚙️💡📞

Did you know? Only one U.S. president, Abraham Lincoln, has held a patent. In 1849, Lincoln received U.S. patent 6,469 for “a manner of buoying vessels.”

From 1836 till 1880, inventors were required to submit a small (no larger than one square foot) working model of their inventions while applying for a patent. These tiny models (often designed to impress the patent examiner) are amazing little machines in their own right.

Patent Office examiners at work, Theo R. Davis (Harper’s Weekly), July 10, 1869

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July 31, 2023
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