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Zoom Inventors and Inventions
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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
1300's and Earlier 1400's 1500's 1600's 1700's 1801-1850 1851-1900 1901-1950 1951-2000
Clothing Communication Food Fun Medicine Science/Industry Transportation Undersea
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Inventors and Inventions from 1901 to 1950:
The First Half of the Twentieth Century

ADHESIVE TAPE
tapeRichard G. Drew (1899-1980) invented masking tape and clear adhesive tape (also called cellophane tape or Scotch tape). Drew was an engineer for the 3M company (the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing).

Drew's first tape invention was a masking tape made for painters in 1923 (this tape was designed to help painters paint a straight border between two colors). This early masking tape was a wide paper tape with adhesive on only the edges of the tape - not in the middle. Drew made an improved tape called Scotch (TM) Brand Cellulose Tape in 1930. This tape was a clear, all-purpose adhesive tape that was soon adopted worldwide. The first tape dispenser with a built-in cutting edge was invented in 1932 by John A. Borden, another 3M employee.

AIRPLANE
airplaneThe first working airplane was invented, designed, made, and flown by the Wright brothers, Wilbur Wright (1867-1912) and Orville Wright (1871-1948). Their "Wright Flyer" was a fabric-covered biplane with a wooden frame. The power to the two propellers was supplied by a 12-horsepower water-cooled engine. On December 17, 1903, the "Flyer" flew for 12 seconds and for a distance of 120 feet (37 m). The flight took place at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, USA.

For more information on the Wright brothers, click here.

For a cloze activity on the Wright brothers, click here.

AQUALUNG
The aqualung is a breathing apparatus that supplied oxygen to divers and allowed them to stay underwater for several hours. It was invented in 1943 by Jacques-Yves Cousteau (1910 -1997) and the French industrial gas control systems engineer Emile Gagnan. Among the innovations in their device was a mechanism that provided inhalation and exhaust valves at the same level. That summer, the new device was tested in the Mediterranean Sea down to 210 ft (68 m) by Cousteau, Philippe Tailliez, and Frédérik Dumas. This safe, easy-to-use, and reliable device was the first modern scuba system.
Model T carASSEMBLY LINE
Primitive assembly line production was first used in 1901 by Ransome Eli Olds (1864-1950), an early car-maker (he manufactured the Oldsmobile, the first commercially successful American car). Henry Ford (1863-1947) used the first conveyor belt-based assembly-line in his car factory in 1913-14 in Ford's Highland Park, Michigan plant. This type of production greatly reduced the amount of time taken to put each car together (93 minutes for a Model T) from its parts, reducing production costs. Assembly lines are now used in most manufacturing processes.
John Logie BairdBAIRD, JOHN LOGIE
John Logie Baird (1888-1946) was a Scottish inventor and engineer who was a pioneer in the development of mechanical television. In 1924, Baird televised objects in outline. In 1925, he televised human faces. In 1926, Baird was the first person to televise pictures of objects in motion. In 1930, Baird made the first public broadcast of a TV show, from his studio to the London Coliseum Cinema; the screen consisted of a 6-ft by 3-ft array of 2,100 tiny flashlamp bulbs. Baird developed a color television in 1928, and a stereo television in 1946. Baird's mechanical television was usurped by electronic television, which he also worked on.
BAEKELAND, L.H.
BaekelandLeo Hendrik Baekeland (November 14, 1863 - February 23, 1944) was a Belgian-born American chemist who invented Velox photographic paper (1893) and Bakelite (1907), an inexpensive, nonflammable, versatile, and very popular plastic.

For more information on Baekeland, click here.

BAKELITE
Bakelite (also called catalin) is a plastic, a dense synthetic polymer (a phenolic resin) that was used to make jewelry, game pieces, engine parts, radio boxes, switches, and many, many other objects. Bakelite was the first industrial thermoset plastic (a material that does not change its shape after being mixed and heated). Bakelite plastic is made from carbolic acid (phenol) and formaldehyde, which are mixed, heated, and then either molded or extruded into the desired shape.

Bakelite was patented in 1907 by the Belgian-born American chemist Leo Hendrik Baekeland (November 14, 1863 - February 23, 1944). The Nobel Prize winning German chemist Adolf von Baeyer had experimented with this material in 1872, but did not complete its development or see its potential.

Baekeland operated the General Bakelite Company from 1911 to 1939 (in Perth Amboy, N.J., USA), and produced up to about 200,000 tons of Bakelite annually. Bakelite replaced the very flammable celluloid plastic that had been so popular. The bracelet above is made of "butterscotch" bakelite.

BALLPOINT PEN
The first non-leaking ballpoint pen was invented in 1935 by the Hungarian brothers Lazlo and Georg Biro. Lazlo was a chemist and Georg was a newspaper editor.

A ballpoint marker had been invented much earlier (in 1888 by John Loud, an American leather tanner, who used the device for marking leather) but Loud's marker leaked, making it impractical for everyday use. A new type of ink had to be developed; this is what the Biro brothers did. The brothers patented their invention and then opened the first ballpoint manufacturing plant in Argentina, South America.

BandageBAND-AID®
Bandages for wounds had been around since ancient times, but an easy-to-use dressing with an adhesive was invented by Earle Dickson (a cotton buyer at the Johnson & Johnson company). Dickson perfected the BAND-AID® in 1920, making a small, sterile adhesive bandage for home use. Dickson invented the BAND-AID® for his wife, who had many kitchen accidents and needed an easy-to-use wound dressing. Dickson was rewarded by the Johnson & Johnson company by being made a vice-president of the company.
bar codeBAR CODE
Bar codes (also called Universal Product Codes or UPC's) are small, coded labels that contain information about the item they are attached to; the information is contained in a numerical code, usually containing 12 digits. UPC's are easily scanned by laser beams. UPC's are used on many things, including most items for sale in stores, library books, inventory items, many packages and pieces of luggage being shipped, railroad cars, etc. The UPC may contain coded information about the item, its manufacturer, place of origin, destination, the owner, or other data. The first "bullseye code" was invented by Norman Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver, from work which they began in 1948. On October 20, 1949, they patented their bullseye code (a series of concentric circles that were scannable from all directions, using regular light). Woodland and Silver patented a new UPC in October 1952; the UPC was also improved and adapted by David J. Collins in the late 1950's (to track railroad cars). UPC's were first used in grocery stores in the early 1970's.
BATHYSPHERE
A bathysphere is a pressurized metal sphere that allows people to go deep in the ocean, to depths at which diving unaided is impossible. This hollow cast iron sphere with very thick walls is lowered and raised from a ship using a steel cable. The bathysphere was invented by William Beebe and Otis Barton (around 1930). William Beebe (1877 - 1962), an American naturalist and undersea explorer, tested the bathysphere in 1930, going down to 1426 feet in a 4'9" (1.45 m) diameter bathysphere. Beebe and Otis Barton descended about 3,000 ft (914 m) feet in a larger bathysphere in 1934. They descended off the coast of Nonsuch Island, Bermuda in the Atlantic Ocean. During the dive, they communicated with the surface via telephone.
BLODGETT, KATHERINE
Kathering J. Blodgett (1898-1979) was an American physicist and inventor who invented a micro-thin barium stearate film that makes glass completely nonreflective and "invisible" (patent #2,220,660, March 16, 1938). Blodgett's invention has been used in eyeglasses, camera lenses, telescopes, microscopes, periscopes, and projector lenses. Blodgett also invented a gauge that measured the thickness of this type of coating (which can be only a few molecules thick), called a "color gauge."
BLOOD BANK
The idea of a blood bank was pioneered by Dr. Charles Richard Drew (1904-1950). Dr. Drew was an American medical doctor and surgeon who started the idea of a blood bank and a system for the long term preservation of blood plasma (he found that plasma kept longer than whole blood). His ideas revolutionized the medical profession and saved many, many lives. Dr. Drew set up and operated the blood plasma bank at the Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, NY. Drew's project was the model for the Red Cross' system of blood banks, of which he became the first director.
BREAD SLICER
The automatic commercial bread slicer was invented in 1927 by Otto Frederick Rohwedder from Iowa, USA (Rohwedder had worked on his machine since 1912). His machine both sliced and wrapped a loaf of bread. In 1928, the bread slicer was improved by Gustav Papendick, a baker from St. Louis, Missouri.
BURBANK, LUTHER
Luther Burbank (1849-1926) was an American plant breeder who developed over 800 new strains of plants, including many popular varieties of potato, plums, prunes, berries, trees, and flowers. One of his greatest inventions was the Russet Burbank potato (also called the Idaho potato), which he developed in 1871. This blight-resistant potato helped Ireland recover from its devastating potato famine of 1840-60. Burbank also developed the Flaming Gold nectarine, the Santa Rosa plum, and the Shasta daisy. Burbank was raised on a farm and only went to elementary school; he was self-educated. Burbank applied the works of Charles Darwin to plants. Of Darwin's The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, Burbank said, "It opened up a new world to me."
CARLSON, CHESTER F.
Chester Floyd Carlson (1906-1968) invented xerography (which means "dry writing" in Greek) in 1938. Xerography makes paper copies without using ink (hence its name). In this process, static electricity charges a lighted plate; a plastic powder (called toner) is applied to the areas of the page to remain white.

Chester F. Carlson was born in Seattle, Washington, USA. As a teenager, Carlson supported his invalid parents by publishing a chemical journal. After attending Cal Tech in physics, Carlson worked at an electronics firm. Carlson later experimented at home to find an efficient way of copying pages. He succeeded in 1938, and marketed his revolutionary device to about 20 companies before he could interest any. The Haloid Company (later called the Xerox Corporation) marketed it, and photocopying eventually became common and inexpensive.

CARVER, GEORGE WASHINGTON
George Washington Carver (1865?-1943) was an American scientist, educator, humanitarian, and former slave. Carver developed hundreds of products from peanuts, sweet potatoes, pecans, and soybeans; his discoveries greatly improved the agricultural output and the health of Southern farmers. Before this, the only main crop in the South was cotton. The products that Carver invented included a rubber substitute, adhesives, foodstuffs, dyes, pigments, and many other products.

For more information on Carver, click here. For a cloze (fill-in-the-blank) activity on Carver, click here.

CAT'S EYE ROAD REFLECTOR
The cat's eye road reflector is a simple device that has saved countless lives. These inexpensive glass and rubber reflectors are set on the roadway at regular intervals, and help motorists see where the road is at night. Each of the cat's eyes reflects oncoming light, acting like lights set into the road. This device was invented in 1933 by Percy Shaw, from Yorkshire, England. He invented it after he had been driving on a dark, winding road on a foggy night; he was saved from going off the side of the hill by a cat, whose eyes reflected his car's lights. Shaw's invention mimicked the reflectivity of a cat's eyes. Because of his invention, Shaw was awarded the Order of the British Empire ("OBE") by Queen Elizabeth of England in 1965.
CELLOPHANE
Cellophane is a thin, transparent, waterproof, protective film that is used in many types of packaging. It was invented in 1908 by Jacques Edwin Brandenberger, a Swiss chemist. He had originally intended cellophane to be bonded onto fabric to make a waterproof textile, but the new cloth was brittle and not useful. Cellophane proved very useful all alone as a packaging material. Chemists at the Dupont company (who later bought the rights to cellophane) made cellophane waterproof in 1927.
CELLULAR PHONE
The first automatic analog cellular phone was made in the 1960's. Commercial models were introduced in Japan by NTT on December 3, 1979. They were introduced in Scandinavia in 1981, in Chicago, USA, on October 13, 1983 (by Motorola), and in Europe in the late 1980's. Early mobile FM (frequency modulation radio was invented by Edwin H. Armstrong in 1935) radio telephones had been in use in the USA since 1946, but since the number of radio frequencies are very limited in any area, the number of phone calls was also very limited. Only a dozen or two calls could be made at the same time in an area. To solve this problem, there could be many small areas (called cells) which share the same frequencies. But when users moved from one area to another while calling, the call would have to be switched over automatically without losing the call. In this system, a small number of radio frequencies could accommodate a huge number of calls. This cellular phone concept was devised by a team of researchers at Bell Labs in 1947, but there were no computers available to do the switching. As small inexpensive computers were developed, cell phones could be produced. Motorola holds the US patents for the cell phone. Henry Taylor Sampson and George H. Miley hold a 1968 patent (US patent #3,591,860) on a "gamma electric cell," which is not a component of cellular phones.
CHOCOLATE CHIPS
Ruth Wakefield invented chocolate chips (and chocolate chip cookies) in 1930. Wakefield ran the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. Her new cookie invention was called the "Toll House Cookie." Her original cookies used broken-up bars of semi-sweet chocolate.
COUSTEAU, JACQUES
Jacques-Yves Cousteau (1910-1997) was a French undersea explorer, environmentalist, and innovator. In 1943, Cousteau and the French engineer Emile Gagnan invented the aqualung, a breathing apparatus that supplied oxygen to divers and allowed them to stay underwater for several hours. Cousteau traveled the world's oceans in his research vessel "Calypso," beginning in 1948. (Calypso was a converted 400-ton World War 2 minesweeper; it sank in 1996, after being hit by a barge in Singapore harbor). Cousteau's popular TV series, films and many books [including "The Living Sea" (1963), and "World Without Sun" (1965)] exposed the public to the wonders of the sea.
crayonsCRAYONS
Crayons were invented by Edwin Binney and Harold Smith, who owned a paint company in New York City, NY, USA. Binney and Smith invented the modern-day crayon by combining paraffin wax with pigments (colorants). These inexpensive art supplies were an instant success since they were first marketed as Crayola crayons in 1903.
CROSSWORD PUZZLE
The crossword puzzle, a word game, was invented by Arthur Wynne in 1913. Arthur Wynne was a journalist born in Liverpool, England. Wynne wrote weekly puzzle for the US newspaper called the New York World. The first crossword puzzle by Wynne was a diamond-shaped puzzle that was published in the Sunday New York World on December 21, 1913. The first British crossword puzzle appeared on February 1922; it wass published in Pearson's Magazine.
BandageDICKSON, EARLE
Bandages for wounds had been around since ancient times, but an easy-to-use dressing with an adhesive was invented by Earle Dickson (a cotton buyer at the Johnson & Johnson company). Dickson perfected the BAND-AID® in 1920, making a small, sterile adhesive bandage for home use. Dickson invented the BAND-AID® for his wife, who had many kitchen accidents and needed an easy-to-use wound dressing. Dickson was rewarded by the Johnson & Johnson company by being made a vice-president of the company.
baby with diaperDISPOSABLE DIAPER
The disposable diaper was invented in 1950 by Marion Donovan. Her first leak-proof diaper was a plastic-lined cloth diaper. Donovan then developed a disposable diaper. She was unsuccessful at selling her invention to established manufacturers, so she started her own company.
baby with diaperDONOVAN, MARION
Marion Donovan (1917-1998) was an American mother, inventor, and architect who invented the disposable diaper in 1950. Her first leak-proof diaper were fast-selling "Boaters," plastic-lined cloth diapers (diapers lined with pieces cut from a shower curtain, and later with surplus parachute nylon). Donovan then developed a completely disposable diaper. She was unsuccessful at selling this invention to established manufacturers, so she started her own company, which she later sold. Donovan produced many other consumer-based inventions and held more than a dozen patents
DREW, CHARLES RICHARD
Dr. Charles Richard DrewDr. Charles Richard Drew (1904-1950) was an American medical doctor and surgeon who started the idea of a blood bank and a system for the long-term preservation of blood plasma (he found that plasma kept longer than whole blood). His ideas revolutionized the medical profession and have saved many, many lives.

For more information on Dr, C. R. Drew, click here.

EDISON, THOMAS ALVA
lightbulbEdison Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) was an American inventor (also known as the Wizard of Menlo Park) whose many inventions revolutionized the world. His work includes improving the incandescent electric light bulb and inventing the phonograph, the phonograph record, the carbon telephone transmitter, and the motion-picture projector.

Edison's first job was as a telegraph operator, and in the course of his duties, he redesigned the stock-ticker machine. The Edison Universal Stock Printer gave him the capital ($40,000) to set up a laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey, to invent full-time (with many employees).

Edison experimented with thousands of different light bulb filaments to find just the right materials to glow well, be long-lasting, and be inexpensive. In 1879, Edison discovered that a carbon filament in an oxygen-free bulb glowed but did not burn up for quite a while. This incandescent bulb revolutionized the world.

For more information on Edison, click here.

ELION, GERTRUDE
Gertrude Belle Elion (January 23, 1918 - February 21, 1999) was a Nobel Prize winning biochemist who invented many life-saving drugs, including 6-mercaptopurine (Purinethol) and 6-thioguanine (which fight leukemia), Imuran, Zovirax, and many others. Elion worked at Burroughs-Wellcome (now called Glaxo Wellcome) for decades (beginning in 1944) with George Hitchings and Sir James Black, with whom she shared the Nobel Prize. She is named on 45 patents for drugs and her work has saved the lives of thousands of people.
ENIAC
ENIAC stands for "Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer." It was one of the first all-purpose, all-electronic digital computers. This room-sized computer was built by the physicist John William Mauchly (Aug. 30, 1907 - Jan. 8, 1980) and the electrical engineer John Presper Eckert, Jr. (April 9, 1919 - June 3, 1995) at the University of Pennsylvania. They completed the machine in November, 1945.

For more information on ENIAC, click here.

FARNSWORTH, PHILO T.
Philo Taylor Farnsworth (1906-1971) was an American inventor. Farnsworth invented many important components of the television, including power, focusing systems, synchronizing the signal, contrast, controls, and scanning. He also invented a radar system, a cold cathode ray tube, a new type of baby incubator, and the first electronic microscope. Farnsworth held over 300 patents.
Model T carFORD, HENRY
Henry Ford (1863-1947) was an American engineer and industrialist who used the first conveyor belt-based assembly-lines in his car factory, revolutionizing factory production. Ford manufactured affordable cars and paid high wages to his factory workers, allowing workers to buy the cars they made. After early work as a machinist, Ford built a gasoline engine in 1893. In 1896, Ford built a "horseless carriage," which he called the "Quadricycle," which means "four wheels" (others, including Charles Edgar and J. Frank Duryea, Elwood Haynes, Hiram Percy Maxim, and Charles Brady King had built earlier "horseless carriage"). In 1899, Ford formed the Detroit Automobile Company (which was later called the Henry Ford Company and then the Cadillac Motor Car Company). Ford introduced the Model T in October 1908; it was a great success (every Model T was painted black). Ford introduced conveyor belt-based assembly-line factory production and a $5 daily wage in 1913-14 in Ford's Highland Park, Michigan plant (primitive assembly line production had been started in 1901 by Ransome Eli. Olds, another early car-maker). This type of production greatly reduced the amount of time taken to put each car together (93 minutes for a Model T) from its parts, reducing production costs.
GABE, FRANCES
Frances Gabe (actually, Frances G. Bateson) (1915-) invented and patented the self-cleaning house. Gabe, who lives in Newberg, Oregon, USA, disliked housework intensely. She designed and lives in a house in which each room has a 10-inch square, "Cleaning/ Drying/ Heating/ Cooling" device on the ceiling. To clean a room, all you have to do is push a button in a room, and the cleaning unit sends a powerful spray of soapy water around the room. It then rinses and blow-dries the room. Each room has a slightly-sloping floor, so the water would drain well. Frances stored valuable objects (and things that should not get wet) under glass. The house also has self-cleaning sinks, bathtubs and toilets. Her cupbord doubles as a dishwasher and her clothes are cleaned, dried and stored while hanging in the closet. Gabe holds 68 patents. Frances said, "Housework is a thankless, unending job, a nerve-tangling bore. Who wants it? Nobody! With my jaw set hard I was determined there had to be a better way!"
GAS MASK
The gas mask was invented by Garrett Morgan, an African-American inventor. Morgan used his gas mask (patent No. 1,090,936, 1914) to rescue miners who were trapped underground in a noxious mine. Soon after, Morgan was asked to produce gas masks for the US Army. For more information on Garrett Morgan, click here.
GEIGER COUNTER
The Geiger counter (sometimes called the Geiger-Muller counter) is a device that detects ionizing radioactivity (including gamma rays and X-rays) - it counts the radioactive particle that pass through the device. The German nuclear physicist Hans Wilhelm Geiger (Sept. 30, 1882- Sept. 24, 1945) developed the device from 1908-12. At that time, Geiger was an assistant to the British physicist Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937). [Geiger's work helped Rutherford discover that radioactive elements can transform into other elements and that atoms have a nucleus]. In 1928, the Geiger counter was improved by the German physicist E. Walther Muller.
GEOLOGIC TIME SCALE
A geologic time scale is a diagram that details the history of the Earth's geology, noting major events like the formation of the Earth, the first life forms and mass extinctions. The first geologic time scale was proposed in 1913 by the British geologist Arthur Holmes (1890 - 1965). Holmes was also the first person to realize that the Earth was billions of years old (not millions, as had been previously believed). For a geologic time scale, click here.
GODDARD, ROBERT
Robert Hutchings Goddard (October 5, 1882-August 10, 1945) was an American physicist and inventor who is known as the father of modern rocketry. In 1907, Goddard proved that a rocket's thrust can propel it in a vacuum. In 1914, Goddard received two U.S. patents: for liquid-fueled rockets and for two- to three-stage rockets that use solid fuel. In 1919, Goddard wrote a scientific article, "A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes," describing a high-altitude rocket; it was published in a Smithsonian report. Goddard's many inventions were the basis upon which modern rocketry is based.

After many years of failed attempts and public ridicule, Goddard's first successful rocket was launched on March 16, 1926 from a relative's farm in Auburn, Massachusetts. It was a liquid-fueled 10-ft. rocket that he called Nell. The flight lasted 2 1/2 seconds; the rocket flew a distance of 184 feet and achieved an altitude of 41 feet.

Goddard soon moved to Roswell, New Mexico, where he developed more sophisticated multi-stage rockets, rockets with fins (vanes) to steer them (1932), a gyro control device to control the rocket (1932), and supersonic rockets (1935). In 1937, Goddard launched the first rocket with a pivotable motor on gimbals using his gyro control device. Altogether, Robert Goddard had 214 patents.

For more information on Goddard, click here.

HOLMES, ARTHUR
A geologic time scale is a diagram that details the history of the Earth's geology, noting major events like the formation of the Earth, the first life forms and mass extinctions. The first geologic time scale was proposed in 1913 by the British geologist Arthur Holmes (1890 - 1965). Holmes was also the first person to realize that the Earth was billions of years old (not millions, as had been previously believed). For a geologic time scale, click here.
HYDE, IDA HENRIETTA
Henrietta HydeIda Henrietta Hyde (1857-1945) was an American physiologist who invented the microelectrode in the 1930's. The microelectrode is a small device that electrically (or chemically) stimulates a living cell and records the electrical activity within that cell. Hyde was the first woman to graduate from the University of Heidelberg, to do research at the Harvard Medical School and to be elected to the American Physiological Society.
JANSKY, KARL
Karl Gothe Jansky (1905-1949) was an American radio engineer who pioneered and developed radio astronomy. In 1932, he detected the first radio waves from a cosmic source - in the central region of the Milky Way Galaxy.
KOOL AID
The powdered drink Kool-Aid was invented in 1927 by the chemist Edwin Perkins of Nebraska Omaha. Perkins started a company in 1914 that sold perfume and calling cards; it was called the Perkins Products Company. Originally located in Hendley, Nebraska, they moved to Hastings, Nebraska (about 90 miles west of Lincoln) in 1920, and expanded their product line to include spices, medicines, more toilet preparations, and other household items.

Kool-Aid was originally a liquid called "Fruit Smack," and was sold in a 4-ounce bottles. It was later renamed Kool-Ade (and later, Kool-Aid), and sold in powdered form in packets. The seven original Kool-Aid flavors were: Cherry, Lemon-Lime, Grape, Orange, Root Beer, Strawberry, and Raspberry. The Kool-Aid factory later moved to Chicago, Illinois, and was bought by General Foods Corporation in 1953.

LAND, E. H.
Edwin Herbert Land (1909-1991) was an American physicist and inventor who developed the first modern light polarizers (which eliminate glare) and other optical devices, investigated the mechanisms of color perception, and developed the instant photography process (the Polaroid camera). Land established the Polaroid Corp. in 1937.
LIFE SAVERS
The candy called "Life Savers" was invented in 1912 by Clarence Crane, a chocolate maker from Cleveland, Ohio. His original Life Saver was a life-preserver-shaped peppermint candy called "Pep-O-Mint." Crane designed it as a summer candy - one that would not melt in the summer heat. He bought a pill-making machine to make the candies, and then punched a hole in the middle. Since they looked like little life preservers, he called them Life Savers. In 1913, he sold the rights to his candy to Edward Noble for only $2,900. Noble then sold Life Savers in many flavors, including the original peppermint. There are now 24 flavors; they are manufactured in Holland, Michigan.
LINCOLN LOGS
Lincoln Logs are a popular children's toy building set that consists of interlocking notched logs. Children can easily make log cabins and other structures from the tiny wooden logs.

Lincoln Logs were invented in 1916 by John Lloyd Wright (1892-1972), an architect and one of the five children of the world-famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. John patented his toy in 1920, and sold the logs through his toy company, the Red Square Toy Company. Playskool bought the rights to Lincoln Logs in 1943.

radioMARCONI, GUGLIELMO
Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) was an Italian inventor and physicist. In 1895, Marconi promoted and popularized the radio (wireless telegraphy), building machinery to transmit and receive radio waves. His first transmission across an ocean (the Atlantic Ocean) was on December 12, 1901. Marconi won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1909.
MECHANICAL PENCIL
The mechanical pencil was invented in 1915 by Tokuji Hayakawa (November 3, 1894-June 24, 1980). His first mechanical pencil was called the "Ever-Ready Sharp Pencil." Hayakawa had owned a metalworking shop in Tokyo, Japan, and in 1942, expanded his company and renamed it the Hayakawa Electric Industry Co.,Ltd. It was later called the Sharp Corporation (1970), and Hayakawa was appointed chairman.
MESTRAL, GEORGE DE
George de Mestral was a Swiss engineer who invented Velcro in 1948. While hiking, he had noticed that burrs (burdock seeds) stuck to his clothing extraordinarily well. The burrs had hook-like protrusions that attached themselves firmly to clothing. Mestral used this same model to develop Velcro, which consists of one strip of nylon with loops, and another with hooks. Mestral patented Velcro in 1957. It was originally used mostly for fastening clothes, but is now used to fasten many other things.
MICROELECTRODE
Henrietta HydeIda Henrietta Hyde (1857-1945) was an American physiologist who invented the microelectrode in the 1930's. The microelectrode is a small device that electrically (or chemically) stimulates a living cell and records the electrical activity within that cell. Hyde was the first woman to graduate from the University of Heidelberg, to do research at the Harvard Medical School and to be elected to the American Physiological Society.
MICROWAVE OVEN
The microwave oven was invented as an accidental by-product of war-time (World War 2) radar research using magnetrons (vacuum tubes that produce microwave radiation). In 1946, the engineer Dr. Percy LeBaron Spencer, who worked for the Raytheon Corporation, was working on magnetrons. One day at work, he had a candy bar in his pocket, and found that it had melted. He realized that the microwaves he was working with had caused it to melt. After experimenting, he realized that microwaves would cook foods quickly - even faster than conventional ovens that cook with heat. The Raytheon Corporation produced the first commercial microwave oven in 1954; it was called the 1161 Radarange.

For more on the microwave oven, click here.

MOBILE
calder fakeMobiles are airy, hanging sculptures that move with the wind. Alexander Calder (1898-1976), an American sculptor, invented the mobile in the early 20th century. His mobiles eventually became famous worldwide.

For more information on Calder and his art, click here.

MORGAN, GARRETT
MorganGarrett Augustus Morgan (March 4, 1877 - August 27, 1963), was an African-American inventor and businessman. He was the first person to patent a traffic signal. He also developed the gas mask (and many other inventions). Morgan used his gas mask (patent No. 1,090,936, 1914) to rescue miners who were trapped underground in a noxious mine. Soon after, Morgan was asked to produce gas masks for the US Army.

For more information on Morgan, click here.

PARKING METER
The parking meter is a device for generating money from a parking spot. When you put money in the meter, you are allowed to park for a given amount of time - after that, you can be given a parking ticket.

The parking meter was invented by Carl C. Magee of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA. The first parking meter was installed in Oklahoma City. Magee holds a patent (#2,118,318) for a "coin controlled parking meter," filed on May 13, 1935 and issued on May 24, 1938.

POLAROID CAMERA
The Polaroid camera is a camera that develops the photograph while you wait (one-step photography ). It was invented by Edwin Herbert Land (1909-1991), an American physicist and inventor who also investigated the mechanisms of color perception, developed the first modern light polarizers (which eliminate glare), and other optical devices. Land established the Polaroid Corp. in 1937.
POPSICLE
The popsicle was invented by 11-years-old Frank Epperson in 1905. Epperson (1894-?) lived in San Francisco, California. Epperson had left a fruit drink out overnight (with a stirrer in it), and it froze, making a new treat. His frozen treat was originally called the Epsicle. Epperson got a patent on his "frozen ice on a stick" many years later, in 1923. The Epsicle was later renamed the popsicle. Epperson also invented the twin popsicle (with two sticks so it could be shared by two children), Fudgsicle, Creamsicle and Dreamsicle.
Q-TIPS
The Q-tip was invented in the 1920's Leo Gerstenzang (a Polish-born American). His wife had used a toothpick with cotton stuck on the end to clean their baby's ears, and Leo invented Q-tips to replace her jury-rigged invention. Gerstenzang's original Q-tips consisted of a wooden stick swathed in cotton at both ends; much later, the wood was replaced by white cardboard. Gerstenzang started the Infant Novelty Company to sell Q-tips (which he then called Baby Gays); in 1926, he changed the name of his product to Q-Tips® Baby Gays. The Q stood for "quality". Eventually, the name changed to Q-tips. Doctors today advise that you should not use Q-tips to clean inside your ears. Q-tips, however, have many other uses, including cleaning small areas (like jewelry or the space between computer keys), applying glue, spreading paint, etc.
RADAR
The first practical radar system was invented in 1935 by the Scotish physicist Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt (April 13, 1892-December 5, 1973). He developed radar to help track storms in order to keep aircraft safe. His invention eventually helped the allies win World War 2 against the Germans.

Radar is short for RAdio Detection And Ranging. Radar is used to locate distant objects by sending out radio waves and analyzing the echos that return. Radar can determine where a distant object is, how big it is, what shape it has, how fast it's moving and in which direction it's going. Radar is now used to watch developing weather patterns, to monitor air traffic, to track ships at sea, and to detect missiles.

radioRADIO
The radio was invented by Nikola Tesla. The radio was promoted and popularized by Guglielmo Marconi in 1895. The first radio transmission across an ocean (the Atlantic Ocean) occurred on December 12, 1901.
radiotelescopeRADIO TELESCOPE
A radio telescope is a metal dish that gathers radio waves from space. Radio astronomy involves exploring space by examining radio waves from outer space. Radio astronomy was pioneered by Karl G. Jansky, who in 1932 first detected radio waves from a cosmic source - in the central region of the Milky Way Galaxy. One example of a radio telescope is the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico.
SALK, JONAS
Jonas Salk (1914-1995) was a research physician who formulated a vaccine against the devastating disease polio. Poliomyelitis, also called infantile paralysis, had crippled thousands of children during an epidemic that hit the world during the 1940's and 1950's. It is estimated that one of every 5,000 people (mostly children) fell victim to polio. Some victims were totally paralyzed and need to live in "iron lungs" (a large apparatus that helped the patient breathe). Salk's developed his vaccine in 1947, while working at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School. The vaccine was made from killed polio virus. In 1955, after many trials of the new vaccine, the vaccine was made public, and put an end to the polio epidemic. Salk wrote many books, including: "Man Unfolding" (1972), "The Survival of the Wisest "(1973), "World Population and Human Values: A New Reality" (1981), and "Anatomy of Reality" (1983). When Salk died, he had been working on a vaccine for the AIDS virus.
SCHMIDT-CASSEGRAIN TELESCOPE
A Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope (SCT) is a wide-angle reflecting telescope with a correcting lens that minimizes spherical aberration and a concave mirror that receives light and focuses an image. A second mirror reflects the light through a gap in the primary mirror, allowing the eyepiece or camera to be mounted at the back end of the tube. The Cassegrain telescope (named for the French sculptor Sieur Guillaume Cassegrain) was developed in 1672; the correcting plate (a lens) was added in 1930 by the Estonian astronomer and lens-maker Bernard Schmidt (1879-1935).
SCRABBLE®
scrabble boardThe word game Scrabble® was developed by Alfred Mosher Butts in 1948. James Brunot did some rearranging of the squares and simplified the rules. A copyright was granted on December 1, 1948. Alfred Butts had been an architect, but lost his job in 1931 (during the depression). He then began developing games, including Lexico, Criss-Crosswords, and them Scrabble®. After about 4 years of paltry sales, Scrabble® became a hit.
SLINKY TM
The Slinky TM was invented by the engineer Richard James (1914-1974) in 1943. This spring-toy came about by accident as James was developing springs to support sensitive equipment on ships. James invented a manufacturing machine that could make a Slinky TM from 80 feet of steel wire in 10 seconds. His wife Betty James (1918- ) named the Slinky TM and runs the company that produces it.
SPRAY CAN
scissorsThe forerunner of the aerosol can was invented by Erik Rotheim of Norway. On November 23, 1927, Rotheim patented a can with a valve and propellant systems - it could hold and dispense liquids.

The first aerosol can (a can than contains a propellant [a liquefied gas like flurocarbon] and has a spray nozzle) was invented in 1944 by Lyle David Goodloe and W.N. Sullivan. They were working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and were trying to find a way to spray and kill malaria carrying mosquitos during World War II for the soldiers overseas. The "clog-free" spray valve was invented by Robert H. Abplanal in 1953.

The first spray paint was invented by Edward H. Seymour in 1949. Seymour's wife Bonnie had given him the idea of an aerosol applicator for paint. The first spray paint he developed was aluminum colored. Seymour formed the company, Seymour of Sycamore, Inc. of Chicago, USA, which is still in operation.

SundbachzipperSUNDBACH, GIDEON
The zipper was improved by the Swedish-American engineer, Gideon Sundbach, in 1913. Sundbach was also successful at selling his "Hookless 2." Sundbach sold these fasteners to the US Army, who put zippers on soldiers' clothing and gear during World War I.

The word zipper was coined by B.F. Goodrich in 1923, whose company sold rubber galoshes equipped with zippers. Goodrich is said to have named them zippers because he liked the zipping sound they made when opened and closed.

TEABAG
Tea bags were invented by Thomas Sullivan around 1908. The first bags were made from silk. Sullivan was a tea and coffee merchant in New York who began packaging tea sample in tiny silk bags, but many customers brewed the tea in them (the tea-filled bag was placed directly into the boiling water where the tea brewed, instead of the traditional way of brewing loose tea in a teapot). Later tea bags were made of thin paper.
TESLA, NIKOLA
Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) was a Serbian-American inventor who developed the radio, fluorescent lights, the Tesla coil (an air-core transformer that generates a huge voltage from high-frequency alternating current), remote-control devices, and many other inventions; Tesla held 111 patents. Tesla developed and promoted the uses of alternating current (as opposed to direct current, which was promoted fiercely by Thomas Edison and General Electric). Tesla briefly worked with Thomas Edison. The unit of magnetic induction is named for Tesla; a tesla (abbreviated T) is equal to one weber per square meter.

For a page on Tesla, click here.

bar codeUNIVERSAL PRODUCT CODE
Universal Product Codes (also called UPC's or bar codes) are small, coded labels that contain information about the item they are attached to; the information is contained in a numerical code, usually containing 12 digits. UPC's are easily scanned by laser beams. UPC's are used on many things, including most items for sale in stores, library books, inventory items, many packages and pieces of luggage being shipped, railroad cars, etc. The UPC may contain coded information about the item, its manufacturer, place of origin, destination, the owner, or other data. The first "bullseye code" was invented by Norman Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver, from work which they began in 1948. On October 20, 1949, they patented their bullseye code (a series of concentric circles that were scannable from all directions, using regular light). Woodland and Silver patented a new UPC in October 1952; the UPC was also improved and adapted by David J. Collins in the late 1950's (to track railroad cars). UPC's were first used in grocery stores in the early 1970's.
VELCRO
George de Mestral was a Swiss engineer who invented Velcro in 1948. While hiking, he had noticed that burrs (burdock seeds) stuck to his clothing extraordinarily well. The burrs had hook-like protrusions that attached themselves firmly to clothing. Mestral used this same model to develop Velcro, which consists of one strip of nylon with loops, and another with hooks. Mestral patented Velcro in 1957. It was originally used mostly for fastening clothes, but is now used to fasten many other things.
WALKER, MADAME C. J.
Madame C. J. WalkerMadam C. J. Walker (December 23, 1867 - May 25, 1919) was an inventor, businesswoman and self-made millionaire. Sarah Breedlove McWilliams C. J. Walker was an African-American who developed many beauty and hair care products that were extremely popular. Madam Walker started her cosmetics business in 1905. Her first product was a scalp treatment that used petrolatum and sulphur. She added Madam to her name and began selling her new "Walker System" door-to-door. Walker soon added new cosmetic products to her line. The products were very successful and she soon had many saleswomen, called "Walker Agents," who sold her products door to door and to beauty salons.

For more information on Madame C. J. Walker, click here.

WAKEFIELD, RUTH
Ruth Graves Wakefield (1905-1977) invented chocolate chips (and chocolate chip cookies) in 1930. Wakefield ran the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. Her new cookie invention was called the "Toll House Cookie." Her original cookies used broken-up bars of semi-sweet chocolate. Her cookbook, "Toll House Tried and True Recipes," was published in 1940.
WINDSHIELD WIPER
The windshield wiper was invented by Mary Anderson in 1903 to help streetcars operate safely in the rain. In 1905 she patented her invention, which allowed the car operator to control the external, swinging arm wipers from within the car. Windshield wipers became standard equipment on cars a decade later. Anderson was from Alabama, USA.
WRIGHT BROTHERS
airplaneThe first working airplane was invented, designed, made, and flown by the Wright brothers, Wilbur Wright (1867-1912) and Orville Wright (1871-1948). Their "Wright Flyer" was a fabric-covered biplane with a wooden frame. The power to the two propellers was supplied by a 12-horsepower water-cooled engine. On December 17, 1903, the "Flyer" flew for 12 seconds and for a distance of 120 feet (37 m). The flight took place at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, USA.

For more information on the Wright brothers, click here.

For a cloze activity on the Wright brothers, click here.

XEROGRAPHY
Xerography (which means "dry writing" in Greek) is a process of making copies that was invented in 1938 by Chester Floyd Carlson (1906-1968). Xerography makes copies without using ink (hence its name). In this process, static electricity charges a lighted plate; a plastic powder (called toner) is applied to the areas of the page to remain white. Carlson marketed his revolutionary device to about 20 companies before he could interest any. The Haloid Company (later called the Xerox Corporation) marketed it, and photocopying eventually became common and inexpensive.
ZamboniZAMBONI, FRANK J.
Frank J. Zamboni (1901-1988) was an inventor and mechanic who invented the Zamboni Ice Resurfacing Machine in 1949. His machine is used in ice rinks to resurface marred ice. In 1939, Zamboni and his brother Lawrence built a 20,000-square-foot enclosed ice skating rink in Paramount, California, USA. Resurfacing the ice was a major problem, and took many men and assorted equipment. In 1942, Zamboni transformed a tractor to scrape and smooth the ice in a single pass. After years, he perfected his it, releasing his "Model A Zamboni Ice Resurfacer" in 1949, (patent #2,642,679). The Olympic medal-winner Sonja Henie was one of his first customers.

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