Invention History

Invention HistoryOn a day to day basis we take thousands of inventions for granted. This article discusses some of history’s everyday inventions.

Superglue or Krazy Glue was originally rejected by its discoverer, Dr. Harry Coover, in 1942 for being “too sticky”. Coover realized the usefulness for the material in 1958.

Hippocrates, also known as the father of modern medicine, lived sometime between 460 B.C. and 377 B.C. and left behind historical records of treatments for relieving pain. He believed that a powder made from the bark and leaves of a willow tree could heal headaches, pain and fevers. Scientists later discovered that the compound salicin, found in willow plants, was the reason for the pain relief.

The first patent for a bar code, issued to Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver in 1952, was intended as a solution for automatic reading of product information during checkout. The solution was a series of concentric circles, not the series of parallel lines we know today.

The bikini bathing suit was named after the site of atomic bomb testing, the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Its inventors, Jacques Heim and Louis Reard referred to it as “The world’s smallest bathing suit.”

Ancient Greeks, Ancient Mayans, North American Indians, and American Settlers all had their own form of what we now know as chewing gum. William Finley Semple was the first to patent a chewing gum in 1869. In 1871, Thomas Adams patented a machine with the ability to manufacture the confection. Frank Henry Fleer was the first to invent “bubble gum” in 1906. He called it Blibber- Blubber, later to become Double Bubble.

Created by a pharmacist from Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. John Pemberton in 1886, the original formula Coca Cola contained extracts of cocaine and kola nut.

Marvin Stone patented a spiral winding process for manufacturing the first paper drinking straws, in 1888. Before paper straws, rye grass straws were used for drinking beverages.

Grammar school dropout, Chester Greenwood, invented earmuffs in 1873 at the age of 15. While testing a new pair of ice skates, he became irritated with trying to protect his ears from the cold using a scarf.

Barely visible marks left when contact was made between a person’s hand and a surface, known as fingerprints, were first observed in the 19th century. Letters by Henry Faulds and William James Herschel were published in the British scientific journal describing the uniqueness of fingerprints, in 1880.

In 1899, the first police car was used in Akron, Ohio. Police cars became the basis of police transportation in the 20th century.

Harry Wasylyk invented the green plastics garbage bag, made from polyethylene, in 1950. Originally intended for commercial use, Union Carbide manufactured the first green garbage bags for home use in the 1960’s, under the name Glad Garbage bags.

Albert J. Parkhouse created a coat hanger in 1903, inspired by a clothes hook patented in 1869 by O. A. North. Parkhouse bent a piece of wire into two ovals and twisted the ends together to form a hook. Thomas Jefferson invented the early wooden coat hanger.

Although it is not known who invented the first ice cube tray, John Gorrie, an American physician, built a refrigerator in 1844, to make ice in order to cool the air for his patients with yellow fever. It is speculated that Gorrie may have also created the ice cube tray because it has been documented that his patients received iced drinks.

In 1920, Joe Cartledge the Owner and founder of the Guelph Elastic Hosiery Company invented the first jock strap or athletic supporter. The jock strap was marketed under the name Protex.

While having a drink in a pub in England, post World War II, Craven Walker noticed a fascinating lamp made of a cocktail shaker. Walker purchased the lamp, determined to make a better version. With negative initial reactions from retail merchants, the “Psychedelic Movement” made the Lava Lamp’s popularity soar.

“…starts from nothing, grows possibly a little bit feminine, then a little bit masculine, then breaks up and has children. It’s a sexy thing.” – Craven Walker

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