Samuel Colt (July 19, 1814 – January 10, 1862) was an American inventor and industrialist. He was the founder of Colt's Patent Fire-Arms Manufacturing Company (now known as Colt's Manufacturing Company), and is widely credited with popularizing the revolver. Colt's innovative contributions to the weapons industry have been described by arms historian James E. Serven as "events which shaped the destiny of American Firearms." In 2006, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Samuel Colt was born in Hartford, Connecticut, to Christopher Colt, a farmer who had moved his family to Hartford when he changed professions and became a businessman, and Sarah Colt née Caldwell, who died before Samuel was seven years old. Christopher Colt was remarried two years later to Olive Sergeant. The Colt family included eight siblings: five boys and three girls. Two of the sisters died in childhood and the other committed suicide later in life, but Samuel's brothers were a huge part of his professional life. One brother, John C. Colt, killed a creditor in 1841 in New York City and was found guilty of the murder, but committed suicide on the day of execution.
Colt was indentured to a farm in Glastonbury at age 11, where he did chores and attended school. At Glastonbury, he was introduced to the Compendium of Knowledge, a scientific encyclopedia that he preferred to read rather than doing his Bible studies. This encyclopedia contained articles on Robert Fulton and gunpowder, both of which provided motivation and ideas that would influence Colt throughout his life. While reading the Compendium, "he discovered that Robert Fulton and several other inventors had accomplished things deemed impossible—until they were done". Later, after hearing soldiers talk about the success of the double barreled rifle and the impossibility of a gun that could shoot five or six times, Colt "decided he would be an inventor and create the 'impossible' gun".