Famous Inventions

Famous Inventions

Date: November 13, 2007

Over seven million patents have been issued in the United States alone, but some inventions in history stand out from all the rest. This article will explore some of the world’s most famous inventions and the people responsible for them.

We begin our journey into historic inventions at the beginning of the alphabet: with adhesives!

The first known use of adhesives dates all the way back to 4000BC. That’s when archeologists say clay pots were first used with primitive glue made out of tree sap. It is also a known fact that ancient Greeks used adhesives for carpentry using ingredients like egg whites, milk, cheese, and grains. Romans used beeswax for glue.

The first patent for glue, however, was issued in 1750 in Great Britain. That particular patent protected a glue mixture made from fish.

How about air conditioning? It has been around for so long that we can hardly imagine life without it, but AC is only about 90 years old. In 1921, Willis Haviland Carrier patented the centrifugal refrigeration machine. They called him “the father of cool”; Carrier’s refrigeration machine was the first practical way of cooling large spaces.

Most of us cannot picture going without the ballpoint pen in our daily lives. But until 1938, everyone did! That’s when a Hungarian journalist named Laszlo Biro invented the first ever ballpoint pen. Biro noticed that the ink used for newspapers dried very quickly, leaving the paper smudge-free. He thought to himself that a pen with the same ink would be very useful, but he had a problem: the thicker ink would not flow from a regular pen’s nib. Biro’s solution? He outfitted his pen with a ball bearing in the tip to facilitate the flow of ink.

Bar codes are used in just about every store imaginable. But until 1952, all ringing up of goods was done by hand, with registers or pencil and paper. That’s the way it was until Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver invented the barcode method of automatic identification and data collection. Although today’s barcodes are mostly rectangular, the original design was a circle, often described as a bull’s eye symbol. It was made up of concentric circles layered one atop the other, each in a uniquely identifiable way.

The cash register is a universally recognized symbol of American capitalism and wealth. Until 1883, however, they simply did not exist. That’s when James Ritt and John Birch got a patent for inventing what they nicknamed the “incorruptible cashier.” It was the first known working, mechanical cash register in existence.

The people to make cash registers famous, however, were the folks at National Cash register Company. That was the name John H. Patterson gave to the operation after buying both the patent and the company from Ritty and Birch.


The world would sure be a lot less pleasant without deodorant, and it was not until 1888 that it was finally brought out to the masses. The original deodorant was created by an unknown genius from Philadelphia, and it was recognized as the first product made specifically to prevent odors. However, the late 1940’s is when deodorant truly took off. That was the year when Helen Barnett Diserens grafted this new deodorant concept onto technology from ballpoint pens to make rollable deodorant applicators.

As for spray deodorant, the first aerosol model was launched in 1965.

We’ll round out our tour through the valley of inventions with everybody’s favorite creation: firearms!

 The first known gun was called the “puckle gun.” It was invented by James Puckle of London, England in 1718. However, the puckle gun was a far cry from the advanced weaponry we know today. The puckle gun was so big that it had to be mounted on a tripod and had only one barrel. It did have a multishot revolving cylinder which allowed the weapon to fire nine shots per minute. If that doesn’t seem too impressive, consider that the standard soldier’s musket could be loaded and fired just three times in one minute. The puckle gun marked the beginning of a glorious period of innovation in firearms. Revolvers, rifles, and everything in between followed from this one early puckle gun. 

In closing, the inventors of today have an awful lot to measure up to. With so many amazing and life-changing inventions already on the books, they have their work cut out for them in trying to outdo the greats of the past!