Quick: name a famous inventor. Is it a man? Women continue to fight hard to gain recognition as inventors. Scientific fields and patenting usually favor the dudes, but women created a lot of things that make our modern lives easy and efficient. We were inspired by Mental Floss's list of inventions by ladies and wanted to share them (and add a few), so take a look at twenty five items to be thankful for, and give these women a big round of applause!
1. The First Computer
Grace Hopper, with the help of colleague Howard Aiken, constructed the first computer in 1944. It was so huge it filled up an entire room. She also designed the device that enables computers to interpret language into code, and she had a big part in creating the first programming language.
2. The Foldaway Bed
In 1885, Sarah Goode became the first African American woman to receive a patent. Her invention? The cabinet bed, folding bed that made for a comfy night’s sleep and maximum square footage!
3. White Out
In 1958, Bette Nesmith Graham patented something she used in secret: liquid paper. She used white paint to cover her own errors, and eventually perfected a formula similar to the one we use today.
Josephine Cochrane saw that her staff struggled with hand-washing dishes, and in 1886, she invented and patented the first dishwasher.
Elizabeth Magie set out to create an educational board game used to teach economic theories about renting, tax-paying, and land-grabbing. She completed it in 1906, and decades later, it was sold to Parker Brothers and given the title Monopoly. Magie only made five hundred dollars off of her brilliant invention.
In 1951, Marion Donovan created and patented the waterproof diaper cover. She sold it to Keko Corporation for one million dollars and it was then used to design the disposable diapers we use today.
7. ABC Blocks
In 1882, Adeline Whitney (who, sadly, was an anti-suffrage activist) created alphabet blocks to help children learn how to spell.
8. The APGAR Test
OB anesthesiologist Dr. Virginia Apgar began testing the vital signs of newborns in 1952. We still use the test today to detect if children need immediate medical attention after birth.
9. Handy Retractable Dog Leashes
Want a leash that gives your pup amble sniffing room? In 1908, Mary Delaney invented those awesome leads that can be adjusted according to your doggie’s desires.
10. Solar Houses
With the help of architectural wiz Eleanor Raymond, Maria Telke, a biophysicist, invented the solar house using salt that contained sulfuric acid. Dover house, as it was called, stayed warm and cozy for three years.
11. Invisible Glass
GE’s first lady scientist, Katharine Blodgett, invented the distortion and glare-free glass we use in cameras and glasses in 1935 by placing a monomolecular coating over glass and metal.
In 1952, Patsy Sherman’s lab assistant accidentally spilled some fluorochemical rubber on a shoe. When the chemist found it wouldn’t come off, she figured out that it repelled liquids, and Scotchguard was born.
13. Paper Bags
In 1968, Margaret Knight worked in a cotton mill, and she engineered a machine that was able to mold paper bags with flat bottoms to allow for maximum packing space.
14. Foot-Pedal Trashcans
Lillian Gilbreth made waste-disposal a lot less inconvenient when she added the foot pedal to trashcans in the early 1900s. She also added handy shelved to the inside of fridge doors.
15. Windshield Wipers
In 1903, Mary Anderson made it possible for all of us to drive in the rain and snow when she invented the windshield wiper. Skeptics doubted her, thinking it would be dangerous to drive with the wipers, but she certainly showed ’em all.
Chemist Stephanie Kwolek accidentally invented the bullet-proof material in 1966 while designing lighter car tires. Kevlar now makes up police vests and other lightweight yet impenetrable tools.
17. Signal Flares
Widow Martha Coston found her late husband’s notebook, and it contained plans for signal flares. She spent ten years working with scientists to make her husband’s dream come true, and now we can easily communicate with the ground while traveling on water or air.
18. Submarine Telescopes
In 1945, Sarah Mather invented the telescopes and lamps used on-board submarines today.
19. Circular Saws
Tabitha Babbitt, a weaver, designed a circular saw and attached it to a spinning wheel. Unfortunately, the invention was frowned upon by her Shaker community, but it is still widely used.
20. Chocolate Chip Cookies
Lodge owner Ruth Wakefield ran out of baking chocolate one day, so she broke up a chocolate bar, hoping it would melt and mix with the rest of the cookie. It didn’t, and the delish chocolate chip cookie was born!
21. Fire Escapes
Anna Connelly patented the external staircase in 1897. It caught on like wildfire!
The opinions expressed on the BUST blog are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of BUST Magazine or its staff.
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