Did You Know These Inventions Were Created By Women?
Many of the products you use today wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the women who invented them. Some of these ladies spent years perfecting their ideas. One did so while raising 12 kids. Another fought back after her plan was stolen. Many created devices that are credited with saving lives. Check out the women whose innovative ideas led to some rather extraordinary inventions…The woman who invented Scotchguard was forced to stay outside the textile mill during testing of her invention because women at the time were not allowed inside the building!
Lizzie Maggie Made The Precursor To Monopoly
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Lizzie Maggie, created The Landlord’s Game early in the 20th century. She applied for a patent in 1903. The point of the game was to demonstrate the effects of land monopolism. She self-published the game in 1906. The game was invented prior to Monopoly, and Parker Brothers used her game as a basis for its version in 1935.
While not initially very popular, since its creation, 1 billion people have played Monopoly worldwide. The original game sold for a mere $2 (the classic game now goes for around $15 on Amazon). More than 300 versions exist today.
Kevlar Creator Stephanie Kwolek Didn’t Directly Benefit Financially From Her Invention
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American chemist Stephanie Kwolek was born to Polish immigrants. She started working at DuPont in 1946. In 1965, when she was in her forties, DuPont asked her to identify a group of fibers that could perform in extreme circumstances. Through experimentation, she developed very strong and stiff synthetic fibers.
The substance was five times stronger than steel by weight. One of the most well-known byproducts from her experiment was Kevlar, which is a material common in military and police vests as well as boats, airplanes, and ropes. Her discovery made billions for DuPont, but she didn’t directly benefit from her invention at all.
Patsy Sherman Developed Scotchgard At A Time When Few Women Were Chemists
Chemist Patsy O’Connell Sherman co-invented Scotchgard with Samuel Smith in 1952 while working at the 3M corporation. Sherman noticed that it was difficult to remove fluorochemical rubber that had spilled on an assistant’s shoe. That’s when she realized the substance could be used to protect fabrics from spills.
Scotchgard was born and became America’s top stain repellent and soil remover. She and Smith were granted a total of 13 patents. Interestingly, in the fifties, Sherman, who was one of America’s few female chemists, was forced to stay outside the textile mill during testing of her invention because women at the time were not allowed inside the building.
Did you know a woman invented the first windshield wipers?
No One Was Interested In Mary Anderson’s Windshield Wipers For Many Years
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While some inventions make live easier, others are clearly a necessity. In 1903, a woman named Mary Anderson created windshield wipers. She was inspired after visiting New York City and watching a trolley car driver ride in cold weather with the windows open in order to see better while sleet was falling.
Anderson designed a hand-operated device to clear windshields. No one was initially interested in her invention, and a Canadian company turned down an offer to buy the rights to the device. Her patent expired in 1920. Shortly after, automobiles became increasingly popular, and wipers became standard on all vehicles.
Before creating non-reflecting glass, the next inventor was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in physics from Cambridge.
Katharine Blodgett’s Non-Reflecting Glass Is Used For Eyeglasses, Microscopes & More
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Katharine Blodgett’s father George R. Blodgett was a famous patent attorney for General Electric. He was shot and killed, but his murder was never solved. In 1926, Katharine was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in physics from Cambridge University. Like her dad, she also worked for GE but as an engineer and scientist.
Katharine’s work at GE involved monomolecular coatings. In 1935, she figured out a way to transfer the coatings to glass and metals, enabling people to see better through eyeglasses and camera lenses without glare and distortion. Her work was also used in cinematography.
Grace Hopper Helped Develop Harvard’s Mark 1 Computer & Received The Presidential Medal Of Freedom
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American Grace Hopper American was a computer programming pioneer and United States Navy rear admiral. She was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer. Alongside Howard Aiken, she designed the five-ton piece of technology in 1944. Hopper also invented a program that translated language into computer code.
After Hopper removed moths from the computer, she used the terms “bug” and “debugging,” which are widely used today in computer terminology. In 1959, Hopper and her team developed the programming language COBOL. She received 40 honorary degrees during her lifetime and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Up next: the successful author who invented building blocks to help kids learn how to read.
ADT Whitney Created Building Blocks So Kids Could Learn Their ABCs
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Poet and writer Adeline Dutton Train Whitney published more than 20 books geared towards young girls. In 1882, she patented wooden blocks with letters of the alphabet on them. The blocks helped children learn their ABCs while having fun at the same time.
Whitney didn’t seriously start writing until her children were old enough to attend school. Her books include Mother Goose for Grown Folks, Faith Gartney’s Girlhood, Hitherto — a Story of Yesterday, Prince Strong’s Outings, We Girls, Holy Tides, Real Folks, The Other Girls, Sights and Insights, Odd and Even, Daffodils, Pansies, Homespun Yarns, and Bird Talk.
Mary A. Delaney’s Retractable Dog Leash Was Developed When Strays Roamed NYC Streets
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Mary A. Delaney submitted the first U.S. dog leash patent in 1908. Not much is known about Delaney except that she lived in New York. She invented a “leading device” that included “certain new and useful improvements,” according to Slate. It featured a drum and spring that allowed the leash’s chain to be released in phases.
Other patents referred to her invention, including a 1940 patent for an adjustable leash. In the early 20th century, pet dogs were increasingly common, and while NYC had leash laws they were not always obeyed, and many strays wandered the city.
Josephine Cochrane Received A Top Award For Her Dishwasher
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Josephine Cochrane wanted a way to protect her china while washing it, so she built a dishwasher in the shed behind her house in Illinois. With the help of mechanic George Butters, Cochrane designed wire compartments that could hold her plates, cups, and saucers.
Cochrane’s machine featured a motor that expelled hot soapy water and used water pressure to clean the dishes. She got a patent on her device in 1886. She received the top prize at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Before long, hotels and restaurants clamored for the device. Dishwashers didn’t become popular in homes until the 1950s.
Nancy M. Johnson’s Ice Cream Freezer Made The Treat Accessible To More People
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Only the privileged enjoyed ice cream until around 1800 when ice houses came into regular use. These houses and a drop in sugar prices enabled the general public to try out the delightful dessert. In 1843, a woman named Nancy M. Johnson from New York invented a hand-cranked ice cream freezer.
The device created delectable ice cream in about 45 minutes and was much easier to use (think of the labor it took to stir the ingredients with a spoon). The machine was very popular and endured around 70 improvements over the years to make it more efficient for people to use.
Bette Nesmith Made Millions After Creating Liquid Paper To Fix Typos
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Bette Nesmith Graham may be best known as the mother of Michael Nesmith, a member of the ’60s singing group The Monkees, but she also invented Liquid Paper. Graham was a typist and commercial artist. She was a single mom who supported herself as an executive secretary and like others understood that erasing mistakes by typewriters was challenging.
She used tempera water-based paint and corrected her typos with it. Her coworkers also started using her concoction, and she marketed “Mistake Out” in 1956 before building her business and changing the name to Liquid Paper. She sold the company in 1979 for $47.5 million.
Maria Telkes’ Solar House Was Groundbreaking
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Mária Telkes, also known as the “Sun Queen,” moved to the United States from Hungary after earning her Ph.D. in physical chemistry. She worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she researched solar energy. Alongside architect Eleanor Raymond, she built the Dover Sun House in Dover, MA, which contained the world’s first solar heating system.
Telkes also made various thermal devices, including one that saved many lives. Her tiny desalination device for lifeboats used solar power and condensation to retrieve potable solar sill. This allowed airmen and seamen to survive when they were trapped at sea. Several American schools are named after the inventor.
Moms everywhere can thank Marion Donovan!
Need Drove Marion Donovan To Create Waterproof Disposable Diapers
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Marion Donovan came from an innovative family. Her father invented an industrial lathe, and she came up with the idea for a waterproof diaper cover. Following World War II, she was frustrated with the mess her daughter’s cloth diapers made on the baby’s clothing and on bed sheets. She took a shower curtain and made a waterproof diaper cover that didn’t chafe or cause a rash.
She got four patents on her idea and eventually sold the diaper to Saks Fifth Avenue. Two years later, she sold her company and patents to the Keko Corporation for $1 million. She also invented other products, including dental floss devices.
Tabitha Babbitt Built A Circular Saw & Other Useful Devices
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Sarah “Tabitha” Babbitt lived in the Harvard Shaker community and was a toolmaker and inventor. It’s believed she created the first circular saw in 1813 using water power to help cut lumber. There’s still some dispute whether she was the innovative mind behind the device.
Babbitt did not patent the circular saw, so two French men did so three years later when they learned about the product she made. Babbitt is also credited with creating the process that made false teeth and improving the spinning wheel head. She, alongside Eli Whitney, also developed a process for making “cut nails.”
Lillian Moller Gilbreth Made A Foot Pedal Trash Can & A Famous Film Was Made About Her Life
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Lillian Moller Gilbreth was a really incredible person. A psychologist and engineer, she raised 12 children and designed various kitchen and household appliances. She made life easier for people by improving everyday objects. She built shelves inside refrigerator doors and made can openers more efficient.
Gilbreth also invented a foot pedal for a trash can — a simple yet very effective improvement in the kitchen. She and her husband Frank were efficiency experts. Two of their kids wrote the books Cheaper by the Dozen (1948) and Belles on Their Toes (1950) about their lives. Both books were eventually turned into films.
Sarah Mather’s Underwater Telescope & Lamp Helped Identify Warships & Other Objects
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A woman named Sarah Mather helped make the deep-sea telescope more effective. Little is known about this inventive woman. An aquascope was initially used to view objects under water for survey work and to view reefs, boat moorings, and other objects and natural habitats. In 1845, Mather improved the underwater telescope.
The telescope allowed the user to inspect the hull from above the water and survey the ocean depths. Her invention featured a camphine lamp in a glass globe. Users could then monitor outside activities, including nearby warships, torpedoes, or other underwater craft. Mather’s daughter later improved upon her mother’s invention.
Margaret Knight Invented A Paper Bag Machine & Her Idea Was Stolen
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Margaret Knight is known as “the most famous 19th-century woman inventor.” She initially worked at a cotton mill before holding other jobs in her 20s, such as home repair and engraving. In 1867 she moved from New Hampshire to Massachusetts to work at Columbia Paper Bag Company.
She invented a machine that created the paper bags we’re all familiar with in grocery stores today. A man named Charles Annan stole her idea and patented the device. She sued him and won in 1871. She and a partner went on to launch the Eastern Paper Bag Co. She made several other inventions, including a numbering machine.
Anna Connelly’s Fire Escape Saved Numerous Lives
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Following the Civil War, women were allowed to register patents. Anna Connelly was one of the first to do so. She designed a way to make buildings safer. Her idea was to add exterior platforms and staircases for people to use in case of an emergency. This not only helped people get safely away from danger — it also aided firefighters who needed to bring water to specific areas of a building.
Connelly’s invention was particularly effective because the fire escapes were added to the outside of buildings and costly remodeling wasn’t necessary. Her invention led to New York City’s first building codes, which required two exits for people so they had more options for leaving a building during an emergency.
Martha Coston Followed Through On Her Husband’s Signal Flare Idea Following His Death
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Martha Coston continued her late husband Franklin’s work and invented the Coston flare, used for signaling at sea. He created chemical formulas for signal flares but died of chemical exposure in 1848. Shortly after, Martha’s mom and two of her children died. Then she discovered her husband’s work on flares.
She spent almost 10 years developing a flare signaling system with the help of chemists and other experts. She received a patent in 1859, which named her the administratrix and her deceased husband the inventor. Her system featured different color combinations and allowed ships to signal each other and the shore.
Sarah E. Goode’s Folding Cabinet Bed Was The Precursor To The Murphy Bed
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Sarah Elisabeth Goode received a U.S. patent in 1885. She was the second African-American woman to do so. She lived in Chicago with her husband, who was a stair builder and upholsterer. She ran a furniture store, and after the Civil war she invented a folding cabinet bed.
Goode built the bed to save space — a necessity for people who resided in tiny living quarters. The bed, when folded up, resembled a desk. It also included storage. The aim was to balance the weight of the folding cabinet bed so it could easily be folded and unfolded. Her design was developed 15 years before the Murphy bed.