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Rufus Porter

[1792-1884] Artist, musician, teacher, inventor, and founder of Scientific American magazine. 


Rufus Porter was ahead of his time in several ways. Porter began his artistic life as a decorative painter. He moved on to portraits and later began painting the murals that made him famous. He painted what he knew — landscapes depicting the farms around Bridgton, Maine, his childhood home, and seaport scenes of Portland, Maine, where he lived and studied as a young man.

Porter patented inventions that were useful in the home, on the farm, and in the factory. The design for his revolving rifle cylinder, sold to Samuel Colt, helped revolutionize the munitions industry. He designed and promoted airships that could fly people across the continent, although they were never built in his lifetime. View an extensive list of his known patents and inventions here.

He founded Scientific American magazine in 1845 to encourage innovation in American arts and sciences. This pioneering attempt at progressive journalism often included clarion calls to clear the way for a bright and promising future. Porter set a tone of excitement for an approaching age where thought and action led the way out of a dark and restrictive past.

Only known photograph of Rufus Porter
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