4 inventions that brought great to the Granite State

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By Stacy Milbouer

November 16, 2023

From the sublime to the ridiculous, New Hampshire innovators have brought their creativity and genius to make our lives easier, healthier, and in some cases, sillier. Here are four examples of New Hampshire inventions that make our lives so much better.

The Segway

Dean Kamen, of Manchester, is most known for inventing the Segway in the 1990s. The two-wheeled, self-balancing personal transporter travels up to 12.5 miles per hour. But New Hampshire’s version of Thomas Edison has invented so much more that’s improved the lives of people all over the world. He holds hundreds of patents and brought us the first wearable insulin pump in 1976, created a heart stent that could get into smaller arteries and navigate around tight corners in 1999, and the iBot, a self-powered kind of wheelchair that can climb stairs, balance on two wheels, and power through rough terrain. Kamen has used his considerable wealth to champion science and technology programs for young people through programs like FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) competitions for school-age children.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The sewer-dwelling reptiles were hatched in 1984 by artists Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird when they shared a house in Dover. One night they started drawing the turtles at the kitchen table, trying to out-camp each other.  Eastman drew a turtle with nunchucks in its hand, according to an article written by Stacy Milbouer in New Hampshire Magazine. Laird added the words “teenage mutant” to the title to make it that much more ridiculous. “It was a goofy night. It was the dumbest idea we ever had. We were quite positive we wouldn’t sell a single copy.” They sold 3,000 comic books and the rest is rogue-reptile history. Earlier this month, a state historical maker and commemorative manhole cover were installed at 28 Union Street where Eastman and Laird created the quartet according to Ian Lenahan of Foster’s Daily Democrat.

The Concord Coach

In 1827, wheelwright Lewis Downing and carriage builder J. Stephen Abbot built the first Concord Coach which saved the rear ends of early Americans who traveled on rough and rutty roads, according to the Concord Historical Society. Its innovative suspension and leather through braces created a rocking motion for passengers–a big improvement over the steel-spring coaches that made for a bumpy, brutal ride. The coaches became a huge hit in the United States and throughout the world. A historic marker on South Main Street in Concord was installed in 1979 to indicate the spot where it all began.

The first American Alarm Clock

Thank you Levi Hutchins? The Concord clockmaker set up shop on Main Street with his brother after he served in the Revolutionary War. In 1787 he created the first American alarm clock, nested in a 29-by-14-inch pine cabinet with mirrored doors. Because he was an enterprising young Yankee, the 26-year-old Hutchins wanted to get up early and used an extra gear to permanently set the wake alarm at 4 a.m. When a customer bought a clock, they could choose their own time to wake up, but that was it. It could never be changed!

READ MORE: Live Free and Nosh: Discover 5 food-related New Hampshire inventions

 

Author

  • Stacy Milbouer

    Stacy Milbouer is an award-winning journalist and has covered New Hampshire for many publications including the Boston Globe, New Hampshire Magazine, and the Nashua Telegraph.

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