|A shield to protect the face during snow storms. (Canada, 1939)|
Interesting Strange Inventions of the Past
Many inventors were people who seemed to be unlikely prospects: they were women, they were African-American, they were too young/old, their profession was something else, etc. But inventors create inventions where they see a need.
- Gary Burghoff (M*A*S*H*’S “Radar”) developed a device that attracts fish toward a boat.
- Philo Farnsworth (age 14) had the first idea for the television set, or “image dissector.”
- Benjamin Franklin (age 83) invented bifocals.
- Hedy Lamarr (1940’s screen actress), co-invented a “secret communication system” that is a basis for today’s “frequency-hopping spread spectrum” method of transmitting radio signals.
- Chelsea Lanmon (age 5) invented a diaper that contains a wipe and a powder puff.
- Stephanie Kwolek (chemist with DuPont) discovered Kevlar, the fiber used in bullet-proof vests.
- Abraham Lincoln patented a process in 1849, “Buoying Vessels Over Shoals,” which was lifting a boat over sand bars or through shallow water without losing cargo.
- Elijah McCoy (African -American) had 50 patents involving lubrication systems for steam engines.
- Garrett Morgan (African-American) invented a type of breathing device and a traffic signal.
- Marjorie Stewart Joyner (African-American) invented a “permanent-waving machine” for “Madam C. J.” Sarah Breedlove Walker, who created a business empire manufacturing and selling African-American hair care and beauty products.
If you have an idea for an invention, don’t let anything discourage you! The Government Documents Department is a Patent and Trademark Resource Center as well, containing information relating to patents, trademarks, and copyrights.
“If it’s a good idea… go ahead and do it. It is much easier to apologize than it is to get permission.” – Grace M. Hopper, inventor of the COBOL computer language
Submitted by Michelle Andrews
Government Documents Department