Robert Gair, cardboard box inventor

Robert Gair, a Scottish-born immigrant, invented the folding carton in 1890 in Brooklyn. He was a printer and paper bag maker in the 1870s. He invented the paperboard folding carton by accident: a metal ruler normally used to crease bags shifted in position and cut the bag. Gair found that by cutting and creasing paperboard in one operation, he could make prefabricated cartons. He ultimately got into the corrugated fiberboard shipping container business in the 1900s.   Before cardboard, he served in the Civil War and returned to NYC to open a paper factory on Reade Street in Manhattan. He moved to Brooklyn after his cardboard became popular and he needed… Read More

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Gustav A. Mayer, oreo cookie inventor

Gustav A. Mayer was a New York businessman, confectioner and inventor who is credited with the Oreo cookie and the sugar wafer. Mr. Mayer learned the confectioner’s trade in his native Germany before coming to the United States at age 19 in the late 1850s. The Nabisco plant he worked from is the current home of the Chelsea Market, which was recently purchased by Google. Mr. Mayer designed decorative cookie molds, allowing for cookies to be uniform and decorative. This technique was also used to create Christmas tree ornaments. He lived in a beautiful Italianite home in Staten Island which  may… Read More

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Alfred M. Butts, inventor of Scrabble

Alfred M. Butts,  as a jobless architect in the Depression invented the enduringly popular board game Scrabble. Although its sales eventually approached 100 million sets, Scrabble languished for nearly two decades, rejected by major game manufacturers as unmarketable. Mr. Butts was a fan of chess, crosswords and jigsaw puzzles. Working in his fifth floor walk-up in Jackson Heights, Queens, he designed the new game to be based on knowledge, strategy and chance. He lined the original playing board into small squares and cut the 100 lettered wooden tiles by hand. First players of the game included his wife and family friends. Mrs.… Read More

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James Bogardus, inventor and architect

James Bogardus (March 14, 1800 – April 13, 1874) was an American inventor and architect, the pioneer of American cast-iron architecture, for which he took out a patent in 1850. He was born in the town of Catskill, New York and was a descendant of the Rev. Everardus Bogardus, the second clergyman in New Netherlands. At the age of fourteen, Bogardus quit school to start an apprenticeship at a watchmaker. He began inventing early in his life and by the age of 28 had patented a cotton spinning machine, an engraving machine for bank notes, and a milling machine for… Read More

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Eliphalet Williams Bliss, manufacturer, inventor

Eliphalet Williams Bliss (April 12, 1836 – July 21, 1903) was a manufacturer and inventor who established the E. W. Bliss Company of Brooklyn. His company supplied the US Navy with Whitehead and Bliss-Leavitt torpedoes, as well as projectiles for its naval guns during the Spanish–American War, World War I and World War II. He was born in NY and attended public school. Eventually he moved to Connecticut to work at a gun factory. After fighting in the Civil War, he married and moved back to Brooklyn where he worked for a printing company. In 1867, Bliss founded the machine… Read More

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