Blanchard, Thomas(1788–1864) inventor; born in Sutton, Mass. A clever tinkerer from early age, he devised an automatic tack-making machine and a lathe for turning gun barrels. Working at the U.S. Arsenal in Springfield, Mass., in 1818 he built a lathe that could automatically produce precision interchangeable parts—an essential step in the direction of mass production. He later designed a steam automobile (1825) and several types of steamboats.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.