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Samuel Colt
(1814 - 1862)

picture of Samuel Colt

Samuel Colt was the inventor of the famous Colt .45 revolver and an early advocate of nitrous oxide anaesthesia.

While still a teenager, Colt developed an obsession with firearms and explosives. He attended Amherst Academy. When only sixteen, he designed a fireworks display for the Fourth of July celebrations. Unfortunately, the school building burned to the ground. Fearing expulsion, Colt left.

At the age of eighteen, Colt became a travelling salesman. He toured New England hawking nitrous oxide. "Dr" Colt was an astute marketer. His credentials soon multiplied and inflated: he became "Professor Coult" of "Calcutta, London and New York". As profits grew, Colt used his income from "laughing gas" sales to build new prototypes of revolver, notably his "six shooter".

Colt went on to build firearms factories based on high-speed, automated production. He sold weapons to both sides in the Crimean War (1854-56). Colt skillfully promoted the gun culture that endures in America to this day.

The story of anaesthesia and its antecedents has few moral heroes.


Utopian Surgery
Refs and Further Reading
Anaesthesia and Anaesthetics