The lightbulb was created by Thomas Edison, the automobile was produced by Henry Ford and the first practical telephone was created by Alexander Graham Bell. We all know about these male inventors and their creations that are still utilized today, but we hear very little about the women inventors who changed the course of history with a simple idea.
Here are some of the women-curated inventions that you might not know:
While the automobile was changing the world of transportation, inclement weather conditions became a growing problem for daily drivers. After noticing the number of drivers who had to constantly stop their vehicles to manually clear their windshields while driving, Mary Anderson came up with the windshield wiper and patented it in 1903. Not steering too far from its modern-day adaptation, the first windshield wiper consisted of a lever on the inside of the car that controlled a spring-loaded rubber blade placed on the car’s windshield.
The Feeding Tube
In the aftermath of World War II, physical therapist Bessie Blount Griffin found herself with a new clientele of amputee soldiers. One of the most common struggles for her patients, regardless of their circumstances, was mobility in eating. To make the process of feeding oneself easier, Griffin created an electric tube that would release a small serving of food when bitten down on. A part of this invention was patented in 1948 and went on to turn into the feeding tubes of today; granting thousands of individuals over the years the ability to feed themselves independently.
The Ironing Board
In the 1890s, form-fitting outfits were all the rage, but pressing the wrinkles out of them was a tedious process. Using two chairs and a plank of wood, these outfits were pressed harshly on the board of wood to take out wrinkles. But dressmaker Sarah Boone wanted to find an easier way. In 1892, Boone patented the ironing board—a more convenient and storage-friendly way to press clothing. With a narrow end for sleeves, padding to protect the wood and collapsible legs for easy storage, the ironing board has maintained its same basic design for over well over a century. This invention was even more incredible from Boone as she had just recently learned to read and write after being freed from slavery just a few years prior. Her self-taught skills in reading and writing were used to apply for her patent.
Wireless Device Communication
Though she was famous for her film career throughout the 1940s, Hedy Lamarr continues to be a prominent figure, being responsible for one of the most used devices of today. Without any official training, Lamarr was a self-taught inventor who dabbled in many projects throughout her life. Her most successful invention was a frequency-hopping technology that could guide torpedoes in combat without being detected. She received her patent for this device during the World War II and set the groundwork for the technology that eventually led to the wireless communication devices we use today, including Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth.
As many of us know, the convenience of a dishwasher is a difficult luxury to give up once you’ve experienced it. For this, we have Josephine Cochrane to thank for creating a device that made dishwashing easier for her servants. Patented in 1886, the first dishwasher was a hand-powered device that used high pressure water, a boiler and a wheel to quickly wash dishes on the device’s wire rack. While the device is now automated, the basic concept of the dishwasher has changed very little.
Alexander Graham Bell may have invented the telephone, but Shirley Ann Jackson was the one who created the modern day touches we love about our phones today. The first Black woman to earn her doctorate degree from MIT, Jackson became directly responsible for the invention of fiber-optic cables which link communication systems around the globe to each other. Her work in theoretical physics also greatly contributed to touch-tone dialing and caller ID, both of which are used on a daily basis today.
Home Security Systems
A nurse from New York, Marie Brittan Brown often had a vastly different schedule than her electronics technician husband, Albert Brown. Wanting a sense of safety and way to see who was at the front door when she wasn’t home, Marie came up with the modern-day home security system that allowed homeowners to watch over their property. The system included peepholes, two-way microphones, monitors, a sliding camera, a remote that unlocked the door and an emergency button that could call for security or police officers. The Browns had their invention patented in 1969, with aspects of the original model still being used in home security systems today.
Sources: Simple Most, Revolt, Wikipedia, Mental Floss