Have you ever had a “lightbulb moment?” That’s when you get such a brilliant idea that a figurative light goes off in your mind. Imagine, the struggling inventors who were dreaming up things before the light bulb. Did they have a “candle moment?” A “torch moment?” Everything we use was invented by somebody else. If that someone was smart enough, then they got a patent protecting their work from infringement. Ask for famous inventors and the big three of Edison, Bell, and Ford. Three powerhouse inventors to be sure, but you’re going to have to add some women to that list, and it might just surprise you what these industrious inventors invented.
The Windshield Wiper
Most inventions are born out of necessity, and the windshield wiper is no different. It was during a road trip from Alabama to NYC that Mary Anderson came up with the idea. She watched countless motorists pull over to wipe snow off their windshields before she decided there must be a better way. Mary was awarded her windshield patent in 1905. Next time it rains, and you flip on those wipers, say, “Thanks, Mary.”
The Fire Escape
It’s one thing to invent an item that makes life easier and quite another that can literally save lives. Anna Connelly came up with the idea for an “external staircase” and was issued a patent in 1887. From that moment to today, fire escapes are part of many building codes. Feels like a no-brainer!
The Disposable Diaper
Well, of course, it would take a mom to come up with the idea that would forever revolutionize the way babies get their diaper changed. It was Marion Donovan who created the waterproof Boater in 1951. It was still a cloth diaper but came encased with an outer shell. That original model was made from the same material as shower curtains. Marion sold the rights to her first patent for a million bucks. She then went on to create a total disposable diaper that paved the way for Pampers, Huggies and all rest. On behalf of grateful moms and dads everywhere, we salute you, Marion Donovan.
The Circular Saw
Back in the early 1800s, Tabitha Babbitt would watch lumberjacks struggle with the two-man pit saw that they needed to laboriously pull back and forth to cut. “Well, that’s just silly,” she no doubt said. Why not a circular saw? Tabitha built a prototype using her spinning wheel. Ironically, being a member of the Shaker community, Tabitha wasn’t able to file a patent, but that didn’t stop the men from using her invention. No matter what, she gets the credit.
The Chocolate Chip Cookie
Imagine you were a guest at the Toll House Inn back in 1930. Owner and operator Ruth Wakefield was whipping up a batch of her famous chocolate cookies but ran out of powdered baker’s chocolate. Instead, she broke up a chocolate bar and tossed that into the dough thinking the chocolate would just all melt away. It didn’t, and the Toll House Cookie was born. That would be the same Toll House Cookie recipe everyone uses to this day.
How many times have you seen a hero in the movie get shot only to bounce up thanks to a bulletproof vest? In reality, those vests have saved countless of lives of police officers and soldiers. Those folks and the rest of us owe a debt of gratitude to Stephanie Kwolek. She was the one who mixed the chemical compounds that would become Kevlar. She would go on to have 28 other patents issued in her name. Mighty impressive.