THE RELATIVELY UNKNOWN MAKERS
Behind 15 Everyday Items WE ALL TAKE FOR GRANTED
Christopher Latham Sholes (1876)
The QWERTY Keyboard The Wisconsin-based newspaper editor and printer developed a piano-like typewriter that was prone to jams. He and colleagues played with the placement of each letter for years to prevent such breakdowns, until E. Remington and Sons adjusted his design into the modern QWERTY layout.
Patent No. 182,511
Josephine Cochrane – The Dishwasher
Patent No. 355,139
Designing her model in her shed in !Hines with the help of her friend George Butters, the wealthy woman wanted to create a dishwasher that would clean her china fast enough to let her host more parties. Her dishwasher was the first to use water pressure and was a hit at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
4.0 Seth Wheeler \
Joseph C. Gayety – Toilet Paper Rolls (1891)
Patent No. 459,516
While Joseph C. Gayety sold the first packaged toilet paper in medicated sheets, the modern roll is the invention of Seth Wheeler of Albany, NY. (People have hotly debated the “over” or “under” rule of how to hang a roll of toilet paper, but the original design is “over.”)
Windshield Wipers 5 — -e The single Alabama native didn’t dr ve. She invented the wipers after being stuck in the back of a st eetcar when it was snowing in NYC, watching the driver have to get out and repeatedly wipe off the windshield.
Garrett Morgan – 1923
The Three-Light Traffic Signal Garrett Morgan The African-American inventor from Cleveland created the three-position traffic signal after witnessing a horrible accident.
Patent No. 1,612,867
Ilk “Surgical Dressing” (aka the Band-Aid) His wife Josephine frequently cut and nicked herself, and he wanted to create strips of tape and gauze that would help her heal faster. She thought it was absolutely brilliant and insisted he show it to his boss — James Johnson (of Johnson & Johnson).
Patent No. 1,760,820 Adhesive Tape (aka Scotch Tape) The banjo-player-turned-engineer’s first attempt at painters’ tape 116 ior was an utter failure. One of the painters said to take the tape “back to those Scotch bosses of yours” (meaning stingy). The tape improved, and the name stuck.
Bread-Slicing Machine (1932)
Patent No. 1,867,377
Otto Frederick The phrase “the best thing since sliced bread” is not as old as one migh Rohwedder think! Rohwedder created the commercial bread-slicing-and-wrapping ,…. machine, but he was forced to sell the rights during the Great Depression, after which the Wonder Bread brand took off.
Joseph B. Friedman (1937)
The Bendable Straw
Patent No. 2,094,268
Friedman also made improvements to the fountain pen and optometry, but the Flexible Straw Corporation was his biggest success, thanks to his sister, Betty Friedman, who was in charge of sales and distribution.
The Ballpoint Pen While John J. Loud invented a ballpoint pen that was too rough to work on letters 50 years earlier, the Hungarian Jewish journalist received the patent for the first commercially successful ballpoint pen before fleeing the Nazis during World War II.
Patent No. 2,390,636
Pull-Tab Soda Cans
Patent No. 3,549,949
About 150 billion cans have his patented easy-open can tops. He Erma) C. Frau came up with the idea after he was forced to open a beer with a 1 car bumper at a family picnic.
Marie Van Britten Brown
Patent No. 3,482,037
Home Security System The Queens, NY, native worked as a nurse while her husband Albert worked as an electronics tech. They had irregular hours, so she was frequently home alone and felt unsafe. Her patent used television surveillance and remote controls.
Robert V. Plath – 1970
X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System (aka the Computer Mouse)
After realizing all he really wanted was “a steady job, getting married, and living happily ever after,” he reasoned that he should focus on making the world a better place, and he thought computers might be the way. DARPA funded his research, but he never received any royalties for the invention of the mouse.
The Northwest Airlines pilot working out of a garage in Florida changed the art of trekking through airports forever.
Patent No. 5,391,062
Spinning Toy (aka Fidget Spinner)
The Florida-based inventor has not made a penny off of the modern Fad, since she could not afford the $400 fee to renew her patent in 2005. “But for me, I’m just pleased that something I designed is something that people understand and really works for them.”