Saturday, September 4th, 2004

Bridgeport Firsts


First in Flight


Gustave Whitehead Web Site


Electric Socket operated by a pull chain

was patented on August 11, 1896, by Harvey Hubbell of Bridgeport, Connecticut who manufactured the sockets in Bridgeport.

Handheld Rocket Launcher

was developed by Captain Skinner and C.N. Hickman and was produced on June 14, 1942 by the General Electric Company. It was nicknamed the Bazooka after a crude wind instrument used by comedian Bob Burns. It weighed 12 pounds and was operated by a 2 man team. It fired two foot rocket about 300 yards. The first 5000 bazookas were completed within 30 days and were used in WWII mainly against tanks.

Helicopter commercially designed

the S-51, a four passenger helicopter was designed and built by Sikorsky Aircraft of Bridgeport. It made its initial flight on February 16, 1946. It cruised at 80 miles an hour and had a range of 150 miles.


Steam Car

was invented in 1866 by Henry Alonzo House. It was driven through the streets of Bridgeport and surrounding towns for several months.


Trading Stamp

was originated in 1891 by Thomas Alexander Sperry who in 1896 organized the Sperry and Hutchinson Company of Bridgeport. Trading stamps were issued as an incentive to customers. The more a customer spent the greater the number of stamps he received. Books of stamps, S & H green stamps, could then be exchanged for free merchandise.


First school for dental hygienists

was established by dentist Alfred Fones in 1913. In 1905, Dr. Fones trained his office assistant (and cousin), Irene Newman, to clean teeth and perform other preventive treatments on children. She became the world's first dental hygienist. The benefits of periodic dental prophylaxis quickly became apparent.
Dr. Fones launched a program to make oral prophylactic treatment available to Bridgeport schoolchildren. At the same time, he established a school for dental hygienists. The first classes took place in a garage behind his carriage-house office at 10 Washington Avenue in Bridgeport.



First Subway Store

It was the summer of 1965 when a young 17 year-old-kid started one of the world's greatest restaurant chains. Fred DeLuca of Bridgeport, CT had just graduated from Central High School and was looking for a way to make enough money to go to college. Fred was working at a hardware store, but the pay wasn't sufficient to pay for college. One day that summer, at a backyard barbecue, Fred spoke with a friend of the family named Dr. Peter Buck. Buck told Fred to open up a submarine sandwich shop in his hometown. This would eventually lead to success. A partnership was formed between the two when Dr. Buck loaned Fred $1000 to open up "Pete's Super Submarines" in August of 1965.

First dirigible to carry a man

was invented by Charles F. Ritchel of Bridgeport who designed and had built in 1878 a crude hand-powered dirigible. A rubberized cylindrical gas bag made at the Goodyear Rubber Company in Naugatuck supported a brass frame work made at Folansbee Machine Shop in Bridgeport on which the aeronaut sat. The aeronaut turned by hand a drive gear that drove a small propeller which could also be moved directionally to pull the dirigible to the desired course.

The craft was able to ascend 200 feet. After much flying of the small dirigible inside one of the Centennial Exposition buildings at Philadelphia, Ritchel brought it to Hartford where on June 12, 1878 Ritchelís fly-weight aeronaut, Mark Quinlan, took off from the baseball field behind Coltís Armory. A sizable crowd of spectators watched Quinlan sail over the armory, turn over the Connecticut River, return and land at the starting point to shake Ritchelís hand.

World's First Private Toll Line

On April 15, 1878 the world's first private telephone toll line was connected between Bridgeport and Black Rock.

World's First Daily UHF TV Station

December, 29, 1949 - KC2XAK of Bridgeport, Connecticut becomes the first Ultra high frequency (UHF) television station to operate a daily schedule.