Day By Day

Thursday, February 25, 2010

This Day In History

Today is "Pistol Patent Day" honoring the memory of Samuel Colt, inventor of the revolver, who patented his design on this day in 1836. Colt's "Paterson Pistol" [named after its place of manufacture, Paterson, N.J.] was the first practical repeating firearm. That was only the first of Colt's innovations. At his factory he took steps toward establishing an assembly line mode of manufacture and also pioneered the concept of interchangeable parts. Additionally he developed a waterproof cable that could carry telegraph signals and an underwater mine that could be used to protect harbors. All in all, a highly productive career.

And on this day in 1901 a group of investors headed by J. P. Morgan and Elbert Gary, founded U. S. Steel, the world's first billion-dollar corporation. It was formed from the merger of Andrew Carnegie's steel holdings with those of the National Steel Company and at its founding it made two-thirds of the steel produced in the United States.

The founding of U. S. Steel was a high point in the first great wave of corporate consolidation that swept through the American economy. Between 1895 and 1904 more than 1800 separate firms were merged into 157 consolidated corporations. Many of the great corporations that dominated the American economy through the Twentieth Century were established at this time. This wave of incorporation transformed the nation's economy, from one characterized by personally-owned and managed firms into one dominated by vast corporations in which ownership was dispersed among numerous stockholders and operations were controlled by professional managers.

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