Inventors and Patents From the City of Northfield, Minnesota

The City of Northfield has a long history of recognizing its citizens as innovators, and this history can be traced back to the founding of the Northfield Business and Technology Center. Throughout the years, many local innovators have filed for patents to protect their creations. Here, you can see which patent applications have been filed by residents of Northfield, Minnesota, as well as those that have been granted by the USPTO.

Clarissa Britain

Clarissa Britain was a successful woman inventor of the Civil War era. In just eighteen months, she secured seven patents. She was born into a well-to-do middle-class family in Brownville, New York. She received an excellent education. She attended the Emma Willard Troy Female Seminary in Troy, New York, in 1838 and graduated in 1839. Her inventions focused on comfort, safety, and efficiency.

Clarissa Britain had several siblings. She attended school with them throughout her life, eventually achieving the qualifications to teach. In 1841, she opened her own school in Michigan. She became the principal of the Niles Female Seminary, but sold it after a few years. She then moved to South Carolina to join her sister. She became a teacher and inventor there.

Britain submitted seven patent applications during her lifetime, while living in St. Joseph, Mo. Her inventions ranged from a floor warmer to a portable ambulance that was used to care for soldiers after they were injured. She was born in Brownville, N.Y., in 1816 and had a father who served in the War of 1812. Britain earned a certificate in teaching and later went on to patent several devices.

Mary Anning began inventing in her mid-forties. In 1863, she secured seven patents, more than any other woman in Michigan. Her patents include a floor heating stove, an ambulance improvement, and a combined lantern and dinner pail. She later went on to receive five more patents.

Samuel Morse

Samuel Morse, Inventor of the Telegraph, was a controversial figure. He was an American who worked as a painter and inventor, but decided to turn his focus to the telegraph. After three months of use, his cable broke three times, but he was able to repair it was successful the fourth time. The first transatlantic telegraph message was sent in 1858, and the first transatlantic cable link was made in 1866. Despite his failures, Morse continued to promote his inventions, and eventually died of pneumonia in 1872. His estate was distributed to charities and artists.

Morse was born in 1791 in Charlestown, Mass. He studied electricity and painting at Yale College. His invention of the telegraph changed the way messages are sent around the world. In 1838, Morse co-invented Morse code, a system that allows people to send a message with a simple code by sending off tones.

Samuel Morse’s invention was the first to be patented, but it took several years before his invention was actually made. He died in 1872 of pneumonia, having spent most of his life working on his invention. He was married to Sarah Elizabeth Griswold.

Samuel Morse was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, as the first of two children of a clergyman. His parents were deeply involved in his education, instilling a strong Calvinist faith in him. After graduating from Phillips Academy, he enrolled at Yale College. There, he was interested in electrical lectures. He decided to build a model of an electric telegraph by the next year.

Although he was poor during his early years, Morse’s social life remained active. He was often among the wealthy and intellectual classes, as well as with religiously conservative and politically conservative people. He had a gift for making friends, and became close friends with the marquis de Lafayette, who backed liberal reform in Europe. His social tastes were also similar to Cooper’s, and he suffered from the American preference for European art.

Martha J Coston

In 1858, Martha Coston was watching fireworks in New York City and she was inspired to create a similar device. She started the Coston Supply Company to manufacture flares that would aid in maritime safety. The company remained in business until the 20th century. She also found a recipe for a brilliant green. Coston’s invention won her a patent in 1871. She served as administrator of Patent No. 23,536, which was used to develop a pyrotechnic night signal system.

Coston was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Although she had little formal education, she became a highly successful entrepreneur. Her patents were granted by the United States government and the Commissioner of Patents. Her life spanned many decades, including the Civil War and the improvement of boating safety.

The United States Navy benefited from Coston’s innovation in pyrotechnic flares. Her company continued to produce flares until the twentieth century. She also invented a night communication system for the Union during the Civil War. She was one of the first women to apply this technology.

Other notable individuals who made their mark on Northfield’s history include William Henry Hamlin (1843-1932) and his wife, Lavina Ann Armpriest. Other famous inventors included Burrel Griffin and Emerson Hardesty.

Lee de Forest

Lee de Forest was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa. His father was a Congregationalist minister. His father eventually took over the presidency of Talladega College, a small, all-black school. The de Forest family faced prejudices, and the white community was highly critical of his efforts to educate blacks. As a child, Lee De Forest was surrounded by blacks and often made friends with them. Lee de Forest was also fascinated with the technologies and machinery that were being invented in the late nineteenth century. As a child, he built a working silver plating apparatus and even built a miniature blast furnace.

De Forest patented more than three hundred of his inventions. His most famous innovation was a three-element vacuum tube, better known as the “Audion.” This was the first practical amplification device and became the basis for television and radio.

Lee de Forest was an inventor who made numerous predictions of the future. He was also an early pioneer in the field of electrolysis. His electrolytic detector of Hertzian waves proved to be a modest success. De Forest then founded the De Forest Wireless Telegraph Company and gave public demonstrations of wireless telegraphy.

Inventors and patents from Northfield include Nikola Tesla, Marconi, and Emil Aschkinass. These inventors all made their fortunes in the Northfield area. Many of these inventions are still being used today.

In addition to his inventions, de Forest was also an active critic of radio entertainment. In 1940, he wrote an open letter to the Narodni asociace provozovatelu. His inventions included a primitive TV camera concept and a jam-resistant radio control.


The rDNA patent was a big deal for the biotechnology industry. The patent gives the inventors the rights to their inventions and includes a thorough public disclosure. This disclosure spurs the diffusion of new ideas and is invaluable to academic researchers. The rDNA patent contains systematic information about the invention, the date of grant, the name of the inventors, and the assignee.

Herb Boyer and Stanley Cohen were two scientists who pioneered the field of genetic engineering. Boyer was born in 1936 in Derry, Pennsylvania, and earned a BS in biology from St. Vincent College in Latrobe. He then earned his MS and PhD from the University of Pittsburgh and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University. In 1966, he accepted a position as an assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and was later a scientist with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In 1976, he co-founded the American biotechnology corporation Genentechin. He served as its Vice President until his death in 1991.

The inventions Cohen-Boyer developed have revolutionized the biotechnology industry. They were key to the development of many drugs, including some for cancer, HIV-AIDS, and diabetes. Their inventions were licensed to 468 companies. The patents spawned a biotechnology industry and created employment opportunities for graduates.

Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer collaborated on genetic engineering and developed a method of cloning genetically engineered molecules into foreign cells. This discovery led to the multibillion-dollar biotechnology industry. The two scientists met at a conference in Hawaii in 1972. They later developed a method for introducing antibiotic-resistant plasmids into bacteria and cloning the genes they carried.

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