Eight Cool Things Women Invented
See the man in the picture to the left? He was an amazing human being who always encouraged me to think outside of the box and it was twelve years ago that I stood in Leo’s wood shop and shared with him my idea to make sensor activated windshield wipers. What we didn’t know until we did a little research is that a man named William Torbet came up with the idea before I did and patented it in 1989.
Fast forward to 2011 and one of my best friends bought a new car with sensor activated windshield wipers and she couldn’t stop herself from calling to shriek with excitement that the idea I’d thought I was the first to come up with at the time had actually come to life.
While I missed out on the chance to be the next great inventor, there are several women who saw their inventions come to life and change the world we live in.
1. Mary Kies was the very first American woman to earn a patent in her own name. In 1809, she came up with a way of weaving straw into hats that turned out to be big business for New England. With that little piece of paper with her name on it, Mary paved the way for other lady inventors to take credit for their ideas.
2. If you’ve ever played a game of Monopoly, you’ve got Elizabeth Magie to thank. Elizabeth created a game called The Landlord Game and on March 23, 1902 she applied for a patent. It was granted to her on January 5, 1904. Parker Brothers eventually recreated Elizabeth’s game as Monopoly.
3. Tabitha Babbitt was one smart cookie who realized after watching men use a pit saw that there had to be an easier way to cut down a tree. So, Tabitha created a prototype of the what would become the circular saw. She attached a circular blade to her spinning wheel so that every movement of the saw produced results. But, because she was a shaker, she didn’t apply for a patent for the saw. But at least she continues to be given credit all these years later.
4. Anyone who’s ever had to use a fire escape can thank Anna Connelly who invented the emergency exit in 1897. Other fire escapes had been invented before Anna’s, but hers was the one that ended up being the basis for modern fire escapes because of its exterior staircase.
5. When we talk about an amazingly inventive woman, we can’t leave out Stephanie Kwolek who not only invented Kevlar, the stuff they make bullet proof vests out of, but managed to secure 28 patents during the 40 years she worked with DuPont. Stephanie made such a big impact with her inventions that she was inducted into the Inventors’ Hall of Fame.
6. They’re ooey, gooey, delicious and were created by a woman named Ruth Wakefield. I’m talking about Toll House chocolate chip cookies. As the story goes, Ruth and her husband bought a tourist lodge named the Toll House Inn and got people buzzing with the amazing desserts she made and served to travelers who stopped by her place. One day, Ruth wanted to make Butter Drop Do cookies, but she was out of baker’s chocolate. So, she reached for a semi sweet chocolate bar that Andrew Nestle (of the Nestle Chocolate Company) had gifted her and broke it into pieces and substituted the recipe with it. Because the recipe was so good, sales of Nestlé’s semi sweet chocolate shot through the roof so Andrew struck a deal with Ruth- Nestle would print Ruth’s recipe on their packaging and Ruth would get a lifetime supply of Nestle chocolate.
7. Josephine Cochrane was a woman whose servants broke her good china on a regular basis while washing them after meals. Tired of her good china being broken, Josephine decided to something about it and in 1886 she received a patient for a machine she invented to wash dishes. It would become known as the dishwasher. Most households scoffed at Josephine’s idea, but she was able to sell it to hotels and restaurants and eventually the invention took off with every day people in every day homes.
8. If you’ve ever had to wash dirty cloth diapers, you know the “ahhh” moment of getting to use a disposable diaper and you have Marion Donovan to thank. The disposable diaper started with a sewing machine and a shower curtain and Marion took to the streets to sell her invention in 1949, but it wasn’t until Saks Fifth Avenue started carrying her waterproof diaper that success found Marion. Two years later Marion sold her company and patent to Keko Corporation for a million dollars.