1st US Patent

What was the first U.S. Patent filed (post fire)?

I tried putting ‘1’ into the patent number search at the patent office site and got back four blank pages.

The First US Patent:

Another page:


A time travelling device.

You may have a browser issue there. When I searched for 1, I got 4 quicktime pages on J. Ruggles “locomotive and steam engine for rail and other roads”. Publication Number: 00000001 dated July 13, 1836.
There are older patents, dating back to 1790, but the numbering system was started in 1836.

That’s what you get with unintelligent hyphenation: the word “pearlash” is pearl + ash, not pear + lash.

(And I do not believe that Q.E.D. is responsible for the hypenation.)

Thanks Squink. I was looking for the first numbered one.

Still can’t view. Must be my browser like you said.

The US patent page is evil. It works poorly, or at least always has for me. Don’t fret, Folly, with enough creative swearing I always got what I wanted from it.

I believe this site explains things succintly:

I remember that the first patent had something to do with pot ash aka pearl ash which is potassium carbonate. Patent #1 was for a process that either yielded pot ash OR improved on pre-existing methods. The article does not state this specifically.

Please go to that page because it even mentions the inventor:
Samuel Hopkins

You can get a full image of the first patent at www.uspto.gov

If you search for a patent by number, enter “X1” as the number.

The patents issued before the present numbering system have been retroactively number X1, X2, etc.

I just saw an article (on Slash Dot) where the patent office is trying to locate the “X-Patents”. It seems the first 10,000 patents were destroyed in a fire and, so far, about 2800 have been recovered.

Not to be too circular here, but would the first patent be the process of patenting? Something along the lines of “This is a unique idea, and therfore we decalre that all other invetion-esque claims should be filed using this process”. At the very least a “test” or other wise “wild-card” patent? I mean Patents strike me as a monopoly… only one way, source, and outcome.

As a related note, I think Edison showed his intellect not in the invention but more in the recording of ~ “…first recording on a phonograph…Mary/Lamb” on his device before he let it out.

Wasn’t it some star trek book where they had to teach a proto-god how to invent so it could invent inventing ? Or something like that. It’s been awhile.

Anyway. If anyone else has problems viewing patents, they may have to download this guy. Worked for me.


It’s funny you should ask this because my husband and I just passed the historical marker in DT Philly yesterday discussing the first patent. The marker was for Mr. Hopkins’ residence at the time he made the application to George Washington. While reading this historical marker, my husband and I mused as to how the word “patent” even was created - any thoughts?