“Unmarked by any pomp or ceremony and with a lack of ostentation that seemed totally inappropriate to the importance of the occasion, the one millionth patent was issued on Tuesday, August 8th, 1911. The wheel of chance which decided the recipient of the epoch-making patent—awarded to the patent which happened to be on the top of the pile when the numbering machine passed 999,999—decided in favor of Frank H. Halton, of Cleveland, Ohio, who had applied for exclusive rights to manufacture and sell an improvement on inflated automobile tires. It was fitting that this patent, itself a monument to progress, should have been awarded to an improvement on the automobile.”

Scientific American, August 1911

More gems from Scientific American’s first 175 years can be found on our anniversary archive page.