Tonight millions of Americans will enjoy firework shows in celebration of Independence Day. Millions more may even set off a few firecrackers and bottle rockets in their backyards. Many of these pyrotechnics can trace their origins to designs patented decades ago. Patents for fireworks and other pyrotechnics are found in the U.S. Patent Classification under 102/335. Firecrackers specifically are found under 102/361. The oldest patent in this subclass was issued on August 7, 1883 to Jinta Hirayama of Yokohama, Japan (US 282,891). Hirayama's invention, described as "day-light fireworks", consisted of a shell packed with powder and paper cutouts of birds, animals and people. Once lit, the shell would explode and shower the immediate area with paper confetti.
Happy 4th of July!