Kokomo’s Firsts

It’s Thanksgiving. We have a lot for which to be grateful. We have had some true innovators in our midst over the years. Our “City of Firsts” designation has been well earned. The renovated downtown library has a wonderful display of glass panels depicting many of the reasons for Kokomo being the “First”. This is the list —

First Commercially Built Automobile, 1894. Built by Elwood Haynes. Road tested July 4th, 1894, on Pumpkinvine Pike east of Kokomo.

First Pneumatic Rubber Tire, 1894. First Pneumatic Rubber Tire invented by D.C. Spraker, president of Kokomo Rubber Tire Co. in October 1894. The tire consisted of strips of three-ply rubber, canvas and other wrappings of vulcanized rubber formed around a slender pole.

First Aluminum Casting, 1895. First aluminum casting by William “Billy” Johnson at the Ford & Donnelly Foundry in 1895.

First Automobile Carburetor, 1902. First carburetor developed by George Kingston.

First Stellite Cobalt-based Alloy, 1906. First Stellite Cobalt-based Allow, a wonder metal known for its hardness, corrosion resistance, and ability to withstand extreme temperatures developed by Elwood Haynes in 1906.

First Stainless Steel, 1912. First Stainless steel invented by Elwood Haynes while attempting to satisfy Mrs. Haynes’ demand for tarnish-free tableware.

First American Howitzer Shell, 1918. First American Howitzer Shell used in actual warfare, made by Superior Machine Tool Company.

First Aerial Bomb with Fins, 1918. First aerial bomb with fins invented by Liberty Pressed Metal Company.

First Mechanical Corn Picker, 1920s. First mechanical corn picker developed by John Powell in the early 1920s.

First Dirilyte Golden-Hued Tableware, 1926. First Dirilyte Golden-Hued tableware invented by Carl Molin in 1926.

First Canned Tomato Juice, 1928. First canned tomato juice developed by Walter Kemp, Kemp Brothers Canning Co. at the request of a St. Louis physician searchi8ng for a baby food to use in his clinic.

First Push-Button Car Radio, 1938. First push-button car radio developed by Delco Radio Division of General Motors.

First All-Metal Lifeboars & Rafts, 1947 & 1943. First all-metal lifeboats and rafts manufactured by Globe American Stove Company. Life raft was named, “Kokomo Kid”.

First Signal Seeking Car Radio, 1947. First signal seeking car radio developed by Delco Radio Division of General Motors.

First All-Transistor Car Radio, 1957. First all-transistor car radio developed by Delco Radio Division of General Motors.

Not a bad list for our town. Wonder what happened to all of those companies? Wonder what has happened to innovation in the past 53 years?

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About Kent Blacklidge Ph.D.

As part of a newspaper family who owned a 34,000 daily newspaper in the heart of the Midwest, I have a passion for a strong “Fourth Estate”, the press. Without a diligent and assertive free press, the power would be taken from the people. People have the absolute right to know. After earning a degree in Industrial Management from the Krannert School of Management at Purdue, I spent over 20 years in newspaper management with several as publisher. I am also holder of three graduate science degrees including a Ph.D.. I have a passionate interest in science and the environment. I have little tolerance for ignorance and stupidity.
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