The first patent was issued on July 31, 1790 but Patent #1 was not issued until July 13, 1836. Prior to July 4, 1836, patents were assigned only by name of patentee and the date of the patent. The Patent Act passed on July 4, 1836 provided a numbering system for issued patents. The name and date patent issued before were then renumbered chronologically with the addition of an X after the number. The first patent ever issued is now 1X.
Senator John Ruggles of Maine who initiated the Patent Act also holds Patent #1. Issued July 13, 1836 this patent is for a traction wheel used in locomotive steam engines. The invention was meant to help locomotives in climbing steep grades.
“A new and useful improvement or improvements on locomotive-engines used on railroads and common roads by which inclined planes and hills may be ascended and heavy loads drawn up the same with more facility and economy than heretofore”