Born: 19 July 1814
Died: 10 January 1862
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut
Best known as: Inventor of the Colt revolver
Samuel Colt created the 19th-century handgun, and the successful gun company, which bore his name. Colt was 16 years old and sailing on a ship to India when he carved a model of a single-barrelled pistol with automatically revolving chambers. The design was 'revolutionary' in more ways than one: it turned handguns from single-shot devices into multi-shot machines that were far more useful and deadly in combat. By the time he was 22, Colt had patented a working revolver in France, England and the United States. He began manufacturing them in an assembly-line factory in New Jersey in 1836. The company failed at first, but war with Mexico and expansion into the west required more guns, and Colt built up a new factory in Connecticut. By the beginning of the Civil War, the Colt revolver was one of the standard small arms of the world. Colt died a rich man, and the company is still around today.
Extra credit: The .45 caliber "Peacemaker," the most famous revolver manufactured by Colt's company, wasn't created until 11 years after his death... Before Colt reopened his factory in 1847, he invented a system of submarine mines and a submarine telegraph cable... Colt's guns inspired an old saying: "God created man, Sam Colt made them equal."
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