1790 Samuel Hopkins of Pittsford, Vermont becomes the first person to be issued a federal patent in the United States. The invention in question was a method for the ‘making of Pot Ash by a new apparatus and process’.
1809 Mary Dixon Kies is the first woman to be granted a patent by the US Patent Office. She had devised a new technique of weaving straw with silk and thread.
1821 Thomas L Jennings is the first black man to be granted a patent, for the invention of dry cleaning. It is sometimes erroneously assumed that the first African American patent holder was the Henry Blair of Glenross, Maryland, who patented a corn planter in 1834. The confusion arises because, in the only instance of racial specification in the early records, the patent documentation refers to Blair as ‘a colored man’.
1836 The majority of the 10,000-odd patents issued by the US Patent office during the first 46 years of its existence are destroyed in a fire. About 2,800 are eventually salvaged, and given a number ending in an ‘x’. They are now known as X-Patents.