Colonel Samuel Colt and his Colt Armory launched the second industrial revolution by combining interchangeable parts, precision machining, and the assembly line to create “The American System of Manufacturing.” The Colt revolver changed the military by giving the user the capacity to shoot six bullets without reloading. With its American System of manufacturing, the Colt Armory changed the world.
Sam Colt was born in Hartford in 1814 and died here in 1862. He founded the Colt’s Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company, and built his state of the art factory here in 1855.
Samuel Colt was a legendary marketeer. In addition to the blue onion dome with the colt rampant atop his factory, he traveled the world giving demonstrations of his products and presenting heads of state with personalized Colt firearms. His salesmanship and branding are legendary – in fact, he even trademarked his signature. As a businessman, his loyalty to the bottom line was demonstrated in his willingness to sell arms to opposing sides in several conflicts.
Colt created his ideal industrial community here, complete with worker housing, educational opportunities, a beer garden and a social hall.
After his death in 1862 (at the age of 47) his wife, Elizabeth Colt became sole owner of the complex. She was 35. She owned the company for the next 39 years. While she was not involved in day-to-day operations, she ensured that the company continued on, and that any new managers shared Sam’s philosophy regarding technological innovation.
Manufacturing techniques developed at Colt were used for other products including sewing machines, buttons, bicycles, typewriters and automobiles. The valley between New Haven, CT and Windsor, VT had such a high concentration of metal working industries, it became known as the “Precision Valley.”
Last updated: December 13, 2017