Lists

Nine Cool Colorado Inventions — and One Imposter

Colorado celebrated its 140th birthday on August 1. Because it was admitted to the Union on the hundredth anniversary of this country’s declaration of independence, it was quickly nicknamed the Centennial State. But to us, it’s always been Coolorado, the coolest state around, and the thousands of people moving here every month clearly agree.

But what, exactly, makes Colorado so hot? As both a primer for newcomers and a refresher course for natives, we’re sharing more than a hundred cool things about Colorado. We've already dished up ten fascinating facts about this state. Here's another one: Coloradans are very inventive. For proof, take a look at these nine Colorado inventions — and one imposter.
9. The Denver Boot
Thanks to the creation of the Denver Boot, an infernal clamp invented in Denver more than sixty years ago and designed to immobilize parking scofflaws, Denver has been soundly cursed around the world. Clancy Systems currently has a lock on the invention.

8. The Barnes Dance

To make traffic move more smoothly, Denver traffic engineer Henry Barnes came up with diagonal crosswalks downtown. Sadly, after many decades — and the system’s adoption by cities around the world — Denver eliminated the Barnes Dance five years ago.
7. The Denver Square
After the Silver Crash of 1893, those who still had money didn’t want to be too ostentatious about it. The solution was the Denver Square, a variation on what's known as the Foursquare in other parts of the country: two-story brick homes that were efficient and simple outside — and often stunning inside.
 
6. The OtterBox
The prototype of the waterproof, shockproof OtterBox was invented over two decades ago by Curt Richardson. Today the OtterBox — an ideal merger of Colorado’s love of the outdoors and its obsession with the latest technology — continues to be based in Fort Collins, where it keeps coming up with big ideas...and generating big profits.

Keep reading for five more inventions...and an imposter.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun