- Ranchers everywhere are grateful to Joseph Glidden for his 1873 innovation. His barbed wire made it easier to herd their cattle.
- Have you ever thought where we would be without Whitcomb Judson, a Chicago inventor? While experimenting in 1891 with a gadget that would cut the time required to button and unbutton shoes, the “Clasp Locker and Unlocker for Shoes,” Judson came up with the zipper!
- If you think we’ve always used envelopes, think again! This simple item didn’t come along until 1839. Prior to that, folks simply folded letters both ways and sealed them with wax.
- We take them for granted, but teabags weren’t around until 1904, when American businessman Thomas Sullivan invented them.
- Housewives everywhere were thrilled to see the introductions of the electric washing machine by the Hurley Machine Company in 1906 and the electric food mixer by the Universal Company in 1918.
INVENTIONS – IT WAS HIS IDEA!
- The same gentleman who invented plywood also conceived dynamite. Yet he’s the most famous for the prizes offered every year in his name … Alfred Nobel.
- William Kellogg introduced his creation, Corn Flakes, to the marketplace in 1906.
- Although many would claim the honor of inventing the world’s first electronic computer, a 1973 American court decision officially awarded the achievement to Dr. John Vincent Atanasoff, a professor of physics at Iowa State University. Dr. Atanasoff devised his digital computer with a memory drum in 1942 but was not acclaimed as the “father of American computing” until after years of patent litigation.
- When Edwin Land snapped a photograph of his little daughter while on a family picnic, she pleaded to see the picture immediately and was crushed when told she would have to wait. That incident prompted Mr. Land to invent a camera with processing chemicals embodied inside it that produces photos in 60 seconds. He dubbed this 1947 original idea the Polaroid Land camera—not because the owners took pictures on land—but after himself, of course!
- Listerine antiseptic was not named after its inventor, Dr. Joseph Lawrence, but rather after Dr. Joseph Lister in 1879. When Lawrence originated the formula in his St. Louis laboratory, he dubbed it “Listerine” in honor of the British surgeon, Lister, who led the way in establishing sanitary operation room procedures. Lawrence intended the concoction to be used strictly in the medical profession as an antibacterial; Listerine was not offered to the public for 36 years.
- Internal heart pacemakers have been in use since 1957.
- Famous escape artist Harry Houdini, born Erich Weiss, appropriated his stage name from a 19th Century inventor, Jean Eugene Robert Houdin. One of Houdin’s more interesting inventions was that of an alarm clock with a bell and a lighted candle that came out of the box at the appropriate time.
- Although, the antidepressant Prozac was invented in 1972, it wasn’t cleared for use in the United States until 1987.
- Does the Caesar salad have anything to do with Julius Caesar? No, it was actually the idea of a Tijuana restaurant owner, Caesar Cardini.
- Philadelphia was home to the world’s first coin-operated vending machine, the “Automat,” introduced in 1902.
- What’s that, you say? You can turn up your hearing aid, thanks to that 1901 innovative creation of Miller Reese Hutchinson.
- Masking tape was developed by the 3M Company, a sandpaper-making firm, in 1925. A 3M employee calling on an automobile plant noticed that painters were having difficulty painting the newly-popular two-tone cars. The employee returned to 3M and immediately began work on a product that would make his job easier, and masking tape was born!
- Americans have been munching Baby Ruth candy bars since 1920. Contrary to popular belief, this treat was not named after the famous Yankee slugger, Babe Ruth, but it was named after the daughter of President Grover Cleveland.
- In 1932, Forrest Mars invented the first-ever “chew bar”—the Mars Bar—a confection covered in caramel and chocolate.
- James McNeill Whistler is well known for the painting of his mother entitled “arrangement in Gray and Black No. 1,” more commonly known as “Whistler’s Mother.” James Whistler’s father was also famous in his own right for his innovative addition to the train. What was it? What else—the whistle!
- George Westinghouse is remembered for his accomplishments in the field of electricity, but his first patent, at age 19, was for a rotary steam engine. Westinghouse received 134 patents in 10 years, about one every three weeks. A pioneer in the railroad industry, he had the exclusive patent on compressed air brakes for trains, followed by 20 supplementary patents improving on his railroad brakes. His electrically-controlled railroad signals were the first of their kind.
- Thomas Alva Edison is best remembered for his light bulb and phonograph inventions, yet this genius obtained more than 1,300 other patents over the course of his creative life. During the 1880s, he filed for a patent on the average of every five days. A voting machine, a talking doll, waxed paper, an electric safety lantern for miners, and an electric pen were among his successful items.
- When questioned about the frequency of his inventions, Thomas Edison stated he should have “a minor invention every ten days and a big thing every six months or so.”
- Thomas Edison’s dying breath was saved in a bottle by Henry Ford and can be seen today at the Ford Museum in Greenfield Village, Michigan. Edison’s entire Menlo Park, New Jersey laboratory, reassembled piece by piece, is also on display there.
- When Edison tested his first working light bulb in 1879, it burned for 40 hours.