Today, we solute shoe making machine inventor Jan Ernst Matzeliger.  Jan was born in Paramaribo, a trading post started by the Dutch, the capital and largest city of Suriname.  His father was a Dutch engineer and his mother a black Surinamese slave.


When Jan was 19, he moved to Philadelphia working as a sailor.  By 1877, his English had gotten much better, so he decided to move to Massachusetts where took a machinery shop.  Growing up, Jan had some interest in mechanics in his native country, so a job like this was right up his alley.

After a while, he went to work in a shoe factory.  At the time, no machine could attach the upper part of a shoe to the sole. This had to be done manually by a person called a "hand laster" whom was so skilled that one of them could produce 50 pairs in a ten-hour day.

However, Jan had a better and even faster way to make shoes.  Five years later, Jan invented and obtained a patent for his 1883 invention "shoe making machine.  Jan's machine could produce between 150 to 700 pairs of shoes a day, cutting shoe prices across the nation in half.


Sadly, he would never see the full profit or success of his invention because he died a short time later of tuberculosis.  In recognition of his accomplishment, he was honored on a postage stamp on September 15, 1991.

Also, on this day in history: In 1947 Percival Prattis became the first African American news correspondent admitted to the House and Senate press gallery in Washington, DC.  He worked for "Our World" in New York City.  Also, in 1996 B.B. King guest starred on the hit CBS T.V. show "Touched By an Angel" and in 1999 Ice T spoke to the students of the University of Toledo about a life of crime not being all it is cracked up to be.

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