The Hippo


May 27, 2020








Segway PT
New Hampshirite Dean Kamen unveiled the first Segway PT on Good Morning America in 2001. The 12-miles-per-hour electric, two-wheeled, self-balancing transportation device boasted high efficiency and zero emissions, and today, you can find it on college campus (UNH bought some in 2008 for police), among security personnel (Mall Cop, anyone?) and in places rich with tourists, both on and off roads. Gunstock incorporated Segway PT tours along with its summer lift rides and treetop/zipline excursions, and so did the Smithsonian Institution. The company is currently based in Bedford.
Kamen already had entrepreneurial success when he devised the Segway (which had previously been known by the names “Ginger” and “IT”). Segway PT actually stemmed from the balancing technology he used in the iBOT wheelchair, sometimes nicknamed “Fred Upstairs” (after Fred Astaire) because it could climb stairs. (“Ginger,” then, came from Ginger Rogers.)
Kamen is the inventor of many other medical products, including water purification systems and the first drug infusion pump. Kamen passed off leadership of Segway Inc. in 2009 but still runs DEKA Research & Development Corporation, which, based in Manchester, consists of nearly 400 engineers, technicians and support staff and, according to a recent interview with Katie Couric about the “Luke Arm” (an extremely advanced robotic prosthesis, named after Luke’s in Star Wars), more than 400 patents.
“Even though I’ve spent my whole life building medical products — the Segway itself was a notion of a medical product — the day it came out, I’m forever known as the Segway guy,” he said in an interview with Couric in August. 

Latex Love
Putting Dixville Notch on the map

By Hippo Staff

Nationally, inventor Neil Tillotson is best-known as the guy who, from the 1960s until his death at age 102 in 2001, was the first in the country to vote in the presidential primaries and elections.

When he died, he was memorialized in a New York Times article, but his presence was even more impactful in his small New Hampshire hometown. He put Dixville Notch on the map, not just through its first-in-the-nation status — he had it incorporated for voting purposes when, after relocating there in the 1960s, he learned the closest polling place was 50 miles away — but also for the infrastructure he built there.
He started the Tillotson Rubber Company in 1931 in Massachusetts. His rubber career had started with the Hood Rubber Company, which is where he first worked and discovered the uses for natural liquid rubber, which could be made without heavy machinery. But Hood was uninterested in latex, as it had already invested in hardened rubber technologies.
Tillotson’s first products were latex balloons, first unveiled at a parade. The products had hand-painted cats on them, and Tillotson knew they had promise when he saw a girl pull one down and kiss it.
In the 1960s, his company developed the first latex medical glove (elastic, one-size-fits-all). His sons, Rick and Tom, became involved with the business, and Tillotson bought The Balsams hotel in Dixville Notch, then moved Tillotson Rubber Company’s operations to northern New Hampshire. Employees, according to, affectionately called him “Mr. T.” 
“Very few people around here can say they haven’t either worked there or had a relative work there. It was impactful in that way,” said Wayne Frizzell, president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce.
Tillotson Rubber was a major employer of area New Hampshirites, and when it, along with the Balsams, closed in 2010, Frizzell said people were devastated. Rick has since started a new company called Tillotson Performance Polymers, and while it doesn’t boast nearly the size of his father’s empire, its presence is encouraging.
“To see them back up and running, even on a smaller scale, is huge. There were still some of those employees around, all whom are very loyal to the Tillotson family,” Frizzell said. 
The Tillotson family continues to be integral to the North Country culture; the Tillotson Center for the Arts, for instance, is a 172-seat theater Rick and his wife Linda spearheaded with the help of the surrounding community. 
As seen in the October 9, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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