List of United States inventions


List of United States inventions

1700s

1731 Sextant
* The sextant is an astronomical instrument that is used to determine latitude for navigation. It does this by measuring angular distances, like the altitude of the sun, moon and stars. The sextant was invented independently in both England and America in 1731. However, since America was part of Britain it is essentially a British invention. The sextant replaced the astrolabe. The word sextant comes from the Latin word meaning "one sixth."

1784 Bifocal Glasses
* Benjamin Franklin is usually credited with the creation of the first pair of bifocals in the early 1760s, though the first indication of his double spectacles comes from a political cartoon printed in 1764. A great number of letters and publications from that time period refer to Dr. Franklin's double spectacles, including his first reference to them in a letter dated August 21, 1784.

1794 Cotton Gin
* Eli Whitney patents his machine to comb and deseed bolls of cotton. His invention makes possible a revolution in the cotton industry and the rise of "King Cotton" as the main cash crop in the South, but will never make him rich. Instead of buying his machine, farmers built bogus versions of their own. Also lead to the increasing want/need for slave labor.

1800s

1801 Steam-Powered Pumping Station * The Fairmount Water Works harnesses steam power to provide water for the city of Philadelphia.

1803 Spray gun
* Dr. Alan de Vilbiss of Toledo, Ohio, invented this device to replace swabs as the method of applying medication to oral and nasal passages.

1805 Self Propelled Amphibious vehicle
* Oliver Evans' "Orukter Amphibolos" dredges the waters near the Philadelphia docks. Its steam-powered engine drove either wooden wheels or a paddle wheel. Evans demonstrated his machine in Philadelphia's Center Square, where he passed the hat for money.

1805 Refrigerator using vapor
* The American inventor Oliver Evans designed the first refrigeration machine in 1805. In 1844, John Gorrie, an American doctor from Florida made a device based on Evans' invention that would make ice in order to cool the air for yellow fever patients. The first electric refrigerator was invented in 1903 by Thomas Moore. The first commercial refrigerator designed to keep food cold was sold in 1911 (by the General Electric Company) and in 1913 (invented by Fred W. Wolf of Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA); these model consisted of a unit that was mounted on top of an ice box. A self-contained refrigerator (with a compressor on the bottom of the cabinet) was invented by Alfred Mellowes in 1916. Mellowes produced this refrigerator commercially (each unit was hand made), but was bought out by W.C. Durant (the president of General Motors) in 1918, who started the Frigidaire Company in order to mass-produce refrigerators in the USA.

1806 Coffee pot
* Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, invented a coffee pot with a metal sieve to strain away the grounds.

1818 Profile lathe
* Thomas Blanchard of Middlebury, Connecticut, builds a woodworking lathe that does the work of 13 men. His invention helps to lower wood prices.

1831 Reaping machine
* The McCormick Reaper, which cut grain much faster than a man with a scythe, failed to catch on. McCormick sold the first unit around 1840; by 1844, only 50 had sold. After taking his operation to Chicago, McCormick prospered. By 1871 his company was selling 10,000 reapers per year.

1833 Lock Stitch Sewing machine
* Walter Hunt invents the first lock-stitch sewing machine, but loses interest and does not patent his invention. Later, Elias Howe secures patent on an original lock-stitch machine, but fails to manufacture and sell it. Still later, Isaac Singer infringes on Howe's patent to make his own machine, which makes Singer rich. Hunt also invents the safety pin, which he sells outright for $400.

1834 Threshing machine
* John Avery and Hiram Abial Pitts invent significant improvements to a machine that automatically threshes and separates grain from chaff, freeing farmers from a slow and laborious process. They were granted a patent on December 29, 1837.

1836 Revolver
* To finance the development of his "six shooter," Samuel Colt traveled the lecture circuit, giving demonstrations of laughing gas. Colt's new weapon failed to catch on, and he went bankrupt in 1842 at age 28. He reorganized and sold his first major order to the War Department during the Mexican War in 1846, and went on to become rich.

1836 Combine Harvester
* The first successful combine, a horse-drawn machine requiring a team of twenty horses, was invented in 1836 by Hiram Moore and J. Hascall in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

1837 Telegraph Machine
* Morse built the first American telegraph around 1835 (the telegraph was also being developed independently in Europe). Morse patented a working telegraph machine in 1837, with help from his business partners Leonard Gale and Alfred Vail. Morse used a dots-and-spaces code for the letters of the alphabet and the numbers (Morse Code was later improved to use dots, dashes and spaces: for example E is dot, T is dash, A is dot-dash, N is dash-dot, O is dash-dash-dash, I is dot-dot, S is dot-dot-dot, etc.). By 1838, Morse could send 10 words per minute. Congress provided funds for building a telegraph line between Washington D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland, in 1843. Morse sent the first telegraphic message (from Washington D.C. to Baltimore) on May 24, 1844; the message was: "What hath God wrought?" The telegraph revolutionized long-distance communications.

1840 Paint Tube
* John Rand invents a collapsible metal squeeze tube. The container immediately hits markets in Europe, where it is used to hold and dispense artists' pigments.

1842 Ether Anesthesia
* Crawford Williamson Long, of Jefferson, Georgia, performs the first operation using an ether-based anesthesia, when he removes a tumor from the neck of Mr. James Venable. Long will not reveal his discovery until 1849.

1843 Mechanical Refrigerator
* American John Gorrie produced the first mechanical refrigeration unit in 1842.

1846 Cylinder Printing Press
* Richard M. Hoe creates a revolution in printing by rolling a cylinder over stationary plates of inked type and using the cylinder to make an impression on paper. This eliminated the need for making impressions directly from the type plates themselves, which were heavy and difficult to maneuver.

1857 Passenger Elevator Safety System
* Elisha Graves Otis dramatically demonstrates his passenger elevator at the Crystal Palace Exposition in New York by cutting the elevator's cables as it ascends a convert|300|ft|m|sing=on tower. Otis' unique safety braking system prevents the elevator from falling; his business prospects rise.

1858 Burglar Alarm
* Edwin T. Holmes of Boston begins to sell electric burglar alarms. Later, his workshop will be used by Alexander Graham Bell as the young Bell pursues his invention of the telephone. Holmes will be the first person to have a home telephone.

1859 Oil Well
* Drilling at Titusville, Pennsylvania, "Colonel" Edwin Drake strikes oil at a depth of convert|69.5|ft|m. Prior to that, oil, which had been used mostly as a lubricant and lamp fuel, had been obtained only at places where it seeped from the ground. Western Pennsylvania witnesses the world's first oil boom.

"'1860 Water Tower
* The City of Louisville, Kentucky begins using the first modern water tower, to equalize pressure and allow for clean running water. This was the first major advancement in water technology since the fall of the Roman Empire

1860 Repeating rifle
* B. Tyler Henry, chief designer for Oliver Fisher Winchester's arms company, adapts a breech-loading rifle invented by Walter B. Hunt and creates a new lever action repeating rifle. First known as the Henry, the rifle will soon be famous as simply the Winchester.

1861 Modern Pin Tumbler Lock
* Linus Yale Jr. improved upon his father's original design (patented in 1848) in 1861, using a smaller, flat key with serrated edges that is the basis of modern pin-tumbler locks.

1863 Quad Roller Skates
* James Plimpton of Medford, Massachusetts, gives the world the first practical four-wheeled roller skate. This sets off a roller craze that quickly spreads across the U.S. and Europe.

1865 Web Offset Printing
* William Bullock introduced a printing press that could feed paper on a continuous roll and print both sides of the paper at once. Used first by the Philadelphia Ledger, the machine would become an American standard. It would also kill its maker, who died when he accidentally fell into one of his presses.

1867 Motorcycle(aka Motorbike)
* The earliest motorcycle was a coal-powered, two-cylinder, steam-driven motorcycle that was developed in 1867 by the American inventor Sylvester Howard Roper. A gas-powered motorcycle was invented by the German inventor Gottlieb Daimler in 1885. His mostly wooden motorcycle had iron-banded wheels with wooden spokes. This bone-crunching vehicle was powered by a single-cylinder engine.

1867 Barbed Wire
* Farmer Henry Rose, invents the product that will close down the open cattle ranges by closing in cattle onto individual plots of privately owned land. I.L. Ellwood and Company's Glidden Steel Barb Wire will dominate the market; by 1890 the open range will be only a memory.

1867 Toilet Paper
* Joseph Gayetty invented toilet paper in 1857. His new toilet paper was composed of flat sheets. Before Gayetty's invention, people tore pages out of mail order catalogs - before catalogs were common, leaves were used. Unfortunately, Gayetty's invention failed. In 1867, Thomas, Edward and Clarence Scott (brothers from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA) were successful at marketing toilet paper that consisted of a small roll of perforated paper . They sold their new toilet paper from a push cart - this was the beginning of the Scott Paper Company.

1870 Pneumatic Subway
* Working in secret to hide his operation from Boss Tweed, who opposes it, Scientific American publisher Alfred Ely Beach builds a pneumatic subway under Broadway in New York. Beach's single subway car, which features upholstered chairs and chandeliers is driven along the convert|300|ft|m|sing=on tunnel by a convert|100|hp blower.

1875 Electric Dental Drill
* George F. Green of Kalamazoo, Michigan invented an electric powered device to drill teeth.

1873 Blue Jeans
* In 1873, Strauss and Jacob Davis, a Nevada tailor, patented the idea (devised by Davis) of using copper rivets at the stress points of sturdy work pants. Early levis, called "waist overalls," came in a brown canvas duck fabric and a heavy blue denim fabric. The duck fabric pants were not very successful, so were dropped early on. His business became extremely successful (and still is), revolutionizing the apparel industry.

1875 Mimeograph
* While using paraffin in an attempt to invent and improve telegraphy tape, Thomas Alva Edison discovers a way to make duplicate copies of documents instead.

1877 Telephone
* The early history of the telephone is a confusing morass of claim and counterclaim, which was not clarified by the huge mass of lawsuits which hoped to resolve the patent claims of individuals. The Bell and Edison patents, however, were forensically victorious and commercially decisive.

1879 Cash Register
* The mechanical cash register was invented (and patented) in 1879 by James Ritty (1836–1918). Ritty was an American tavern keeper in Dayton, Ohio. He nicknamed his cash register the "Incorruptible Cashier," and started the National Manufacturing Company to sell them. When a transaction was completed, a bell rang on the cash register and the amount was noted on a large dial on the front of the machine. During each sale, a paper tape was punched with holes so that the merchant could keep track of sales (at the end of the day, the merchant could add up the holes). John H. Patterson (1844–1922) bought Ritty's patent and his cash register company in 1884. Patterson renamed the Dayton, Ohio, company the National Cash Register Company. Patterson improved Ritty's cash register by adding a paper tape that kept a printed record of all transactions.

1880 Hearing Aid
* R.G. Rhodes improves on the ear trumpet with another primitive hearing aid. The device is a thin sheet of hard rubber or cardboard placed against teeth which conducts vibrations to the auditory nerve.

1881 Maxim Gun
* The first true machine gun was invented in 1881 by Hiram Maxim. The "Maxim gun" used the recoil power of the previously fired bullet to reload rather than being hand powered, enabling a much higher rate of fire than was possible using earlier designs. Maxim's other great innovation was the use of water cooling (via a water jacket around the barrel) to reduce overheating. Maxim's gun was widely adopted and derivative designs were used on all sides during the First World War. The design required less crew, was lighter, and more usable than earlier Gatling guns.

1882 Electric Fan
* Dr. Schuyler Skaats Wheeler invented the two-bladed desk fan, which is produced by the Crocker and Curtis electric motor company.

1882 Electric Iron
* The electric iron was invented in 1882 by Henry W. Seeley, a New York inventor Seeley patented his "electric flatiron" on June 6, 1882 (patent no. 259,054). His iron weighed almost 15 pounds and took a long time to warm up.

1882 Fountain Pen
* Lewis E. Waterman was an American inventor and insurance salesman who developed a relatively leak-proof fountain pen; he patented his new invention in 1884 and revolutionized writing. Before his fountain pen, pen tips had to be tipped into ink after every few words. Waterman put an ink reservoir in the pen above the pen's metal nib (point).

1885 Skyscraper
* After the Great Fire of 1871, Chicago has become a magnet for daring experiments in architecture. William Le Baron Jenney completes the 10-story Home Insurance Company Building, the first to use steel-girder construction; more than twenty skyscrapers will be built in Chicago over the next 9 years.

1885 Dr. Pepper
* Formulated by German pharmacist Charles Alderton in Morrison's Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Dr. Pepper was introduced nationally in the United States at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition as a new kind of cola, made with 23 flavors.

1886 Coca-Cola
* Dr. John Stith Pemberton (1830–1888) was an American pharmacist, soldier, and inventor. He invented Coca-Cola on May 8th, 1886 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. He had invented many syrups, medicines, and elixirs before, including a very popular drink called French Wine of Coca, which contained French Bordeaux wine, coca leaves, and caffeine (from the kola nut). Sadly enough, Coca-Cola originally included trace amounts of powder cocaine; which gave it its name and propelled its popularity through addiction.

1887 "Platter" Record
* Edison's tube recording system produces distorted sound because of gravity's pressure on the playing stylus. Emile Berliner, a German immigrant living in Washington, DC, invents a process for recording sound on a horizontal disc. The "platter" record is born.

1888 Revolving Door
* The revolving door was invented in 1888 by Theophilus Van Kannel of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. in high-rise buildings, regular doors are hard to open because there is a slight vacuum caused by air flowing upwards through stairwells, elevator shafts, and chimneys. Van Kannel's new type of door was easy to open in tall building (and also saved heat in the winter). Van Kannel patented the revolving door on August 7, 1888.

1888 Electric Motor
* Nikola Tesla, a Serb immigrant, invented the first working electric motor in 1888. One day while touring a city park, he was suddenly struck by inspiration and proceeded to draw his revolutionary design in the sand. With the use of electromagnets, the design used electrical energy to produce mechanical energy. Several magnets inside were propelled against each other by alternating the currents, forcing a turbine to revolve in the center and produce mechanical energy which could be transformed into any myriad of uses.

1891 Escalator
* Jesse W. Reno, introduces a new novelty ride at Coney Island. His moving stairway elevates passengers on a conveyor belt at an angle of 25 degrees. The device will be shown at the Paris Exposition of 1900, where it is called the escalator.

1891 Ferris wheel
* The Ferris wheel was invented by the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania bridge-builder George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. (1859–1896) . The first Ferris wheel was opened on June 21, 1893 at the Chicago World's Fair.

1891 Radio
* Although a contending topic, Nikola Tesla is generally regarded by many, as well as the United States Supreme Court; to be the original inventor of effective radio transmissions and many of the patents concerning radio, such as; reliable radio frequencies, many of the principles of radio, and effective transmission of long-distance signals.

1892 Tractor The first gasoline-powered tractor was made in 1892 by John Froehlich, a blacksmith from Iowa.

1895 Volleyball
* William G. Morgan invented a game known as Mintonnette in 1895 while studying at a YMCA in Holyoke, Massachusetts. It was later re-named volleyball by Alfred S. Halstead.

1896 Automatic Hat
* James Boyle, of Washington, invents a hat that tips automatically. Later died in 1897, because of caused radiation.

1897 Cotton Candy (aka Fairy Floss)
* Cotton candy is a soft confection made from sugar that is heated and spun into slim threads that look like a mass of cotton. It was invented in 1897 by William Morrison and John C. Wharton, candymakers from Nashville, Tennessee.

1896 Zipper
* Whitcomb L. Judson was an American engineer from Chicago, Illinois, who invented the a metal zipper device with locking teeth in 1890. Judson patented his "clasp-locker" on Aug. 29, 1893; later in 1893, he exhibited this new invention at the Chicago World's Fair. He never succeeded in marketing his new device. The zipper was improved by the Swedish-American engineer, Gideon Sundbach, and was named by the B.F. Goodrich company in 1923. Judson died in 1909, before his device became commonly used and well known.

1900s

1901 Safety razor
* King Camp Gillette, former traveling hardware salesman of Fond du Lac, invents double-edged safety razor. By the end of 1904, he will have sold 90,000 razors and 12,400,000 blades, but he will die in 1932 with his dream of a utopian society organized by engineers unrealized.

1901 Assembly Line Production
* Primitive assembly line production was first used in 1901 by Ransome Eli Olds (1864–1950), an early car-maker (he manufactured the Oldsmobile, the first commercially successful American car). Henry Ford (1863–1947) used the first conveyor belt-based assembly-line in his car factory in 1913-14 in Ford's Highland Park, Michigan plant. This type of production greatly reduced the amount of time taken to put each car together (93 minutes for a Model T) from its parts, reducing production costs.

1902 Air Conditioner
* Willis Carrier manufactured the world's first mechanical air conditioning unit in 1902.

1903 Airplane
* The Wright brothers are generally credited with building the world's first successful human flight in a powered aeroplane and making the first controlled, powered and heavier-than-air human flight on December 17, 1903. In the two years afterward, they developed their flying machine into the world's first practical fixed-wing aircraft. The brothers' fundamental breakthrough was their invention of "three axis-control," which enabled the pilot to steer the aircraft effectively and to maintain its equilibrium. This method has become standard on fixed wing aircraft of all kinds. From the beginning of their aeronautical work, the Wright brothers focused on unlocking the secrets of control to conquer "the flying problem," rather than on developing more powerful engines as some other experimenters did.

1903 Crayons
* Crayons were invented by Edwin Binney and Harold Smith, who owned a paint company in New York City, NY, USA. Binney and Smith invented the modern-day crayon by combining paraffin wax with pigments (colorants). These inexpensive art supplies were an instant success since they were first marketed as Crayola crayons in 1903.

1905 Windshield Wipers
* The windshield wiper was invented by Mary Anderson in 1903 to help streetcars operate safely in the rain. In 1905 she patented her invention, which allowed the car operator to control the external, swinging arm wipers from within the car.

1905 Popsicle (aka Icy Pole)
* The popsicle was invented by 11-years-old Frank Epperson in 1905. Epperson (1894-?) lived in San Francisco, California. Epperson had left a fruit drink out overnight (with a stirrer in it), and it froze, making a new treat. His frozen treat was originally called the Epsicle. Epperson got a patent on his "frozen ice on a stick" many years later, in 1923. The Epsicle was later renamed the popsicle. Epperson also invented the twin popsicle (with two sticks so it could be shared by two children), Fudgsicle, Creamsicle and Dreamsicle.

1908 Tea Bags
* Tea bags were invented by Thomas Sullivan around 1908. The first bags were made from silk. Sullivan was a tea and coffee merchant in New York who began packaging tea sample in tiny silk bags, but many customers brewed the tea in them (the tea-filled bag was placed directly into the boiling water where the tea brewed, instead of the traditional way of brewing loose tea in a teapot). Later tea bags were made of thin paper.

1911 Self Starter
* Charles F. Kettering, who developed the electric cash register while working at National Cash Register, sells his electric automobile starters to the Cadillac company. This device increases the popularity of the gasoline-powered car, which no longer needs to be started with a hand crank.

1921 Wirephoto
* The first electronically-transmitted photograph is sent by Western Union. The idea for a facsimile transmission was first proposed by Scottish clockmaker Alexander Bain in 1843.

1921 BAND-AID
* Bandages for wounds had been around since ancient times, but an easy-to-use dressing with an adhesive was invented by Earle Dickson (a cotton buyer at the Johnson & Johnson company). Dickson perfected the BAND-AID in 1920, making a small, sterile adhesive bandage for home use. Dickson invented the BAND-AID for his wife, who had many kitchen accidents and needed an easy-to-use wound dressing. Dickson was rewarded by the Johnson & Johnson company by being made a vice-president of the company.

1923 Masking Tape
* Richard G. Drew's (1899–1980), an employee of the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M), first first tape invention was a masking tape made for painters in 1923 (this tape was designed to help painters paint a straight border between two colors). This early masking tape was a wide paper tape with adhesive on only the edges of the tape - not in the middle.

1924 Gas Chamber Execution
* In an effort to make capital punishment more humane, the State of Nevada introduces death by gas chamber. Convicted murderer Gee John takes 6 minutes to die.

1926 Liquid-Fueled Rocket
* On March 16, 1926 at Auburn, Massachusetts, Professor Robert H. Goddard successfully launched the first liquid fueled rocket in history, which used liquid oxygen and gasoline as propellants. A maximum altitude of just 41 feet was achieved during a short 2.5 seconds of flight, but it was an important demonstration that liquid-fueled rockets were possible.

1927 Bread Slicer
* The automatic commercial bread slicer was invented in 1927 by Otto Frederick Rohwedder from Iowa, USA (Rohwedder had worked on his machine since 1912). His machine both sliced and wrapped a loaf of bread. In 1928, the bread slicer was improved by Gustav Papendick, a baker from St. Louis, Missouri.

1928 Bubble Gum
* Bubblegum was invented by Frank Henry Fleer in 1906, but was not successful; the formulation of Fleer's "Blibber-Blubber," was too sticky. In 1928, Walter E. Diemer invented a superior formulation for bubble gum, which he called " Double Bubble."

1929 Frozen Food
* Clarence Birdseye offers his quick-frozen foods to the public. Birdseye got the idea during fur-trapping expeditions to Labrador in 1912 and 1916, where he saw the natives use freezing to preserve foods.

1930 Scotch Tape (aka Cellotape, sticky tape)
* Richard D. Drew's second tape invention was a clear cellulose tape called Scotch (TM) Brand Cellulose Tape. This tape was a clear, all-purpose adhesive tape that was soon adopted worldwide. The first scotch tape dispenser with a built-in cutting edge was invented in 1932 by John A. Borden, another 3M employee.

1930 Bathysphere
* A bathysphere is a pressurized metal sphere that allows people to go deep in the ocean, to depths at which diving unaided is impossible. This hollow cast iron sphere with very thick walls is lowered and raised from a ship using a steel cable. The bathysphere was invented by William Beebe and Otis Barton (around 1930). William Beebe (1877–1962), an American naturalist and undersea explorer, tested the bathysphere in 1930, going down to convert|1426|ft|m in a 4'9" (1.45 m) diameter bathysphere. Beebe and Otis Barton descended about 3,000 ft (914 m) feet in a larger bathysphere in 1934. They descended off the coast of Nonsuch Island, Bermuda in the Atlantic Ocean. During the dive, they communicated with the surface via telephone.

1930 Chocolate Chip Cookie
* Ruth Wakefield invented chocolate chips (and chocolate chip cookies) in 1930. Wakefield ran the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. Her new cookie invention was called the "Toll House Cookie." Her original cookies used broken-up bars of semi-sweet chocolate.

1931 Particle accelerator
* First accelerator built at the current Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory site, then known as the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory ("Rad Lab" for short)

1931 Radio Astronomy
* While trying to track down a source of electrical interference on telephone transmissions, Karl Guthe Jansky of Bell Telephone Laboratories discovers radio waves emanating from stars in outer space.

1935 Parking Meter
* The parking meter was invented by Carl C. Magee of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA. The first parking meter was installed in Oklahoma City. Magee holds a patent (#2,118,318) for a "coin controlled parking meter," filed on May 13, 1935 and issued on May 24, 1938.

1937 Chair Lift
* James Curran build a chair lift for the Dollar Mountain resort in Sun Valley, Idaho. Dollar Mountain follows with an order for six more.

1937 Photocopier
* Xerography (which means "dry writing" in Greek) is a process of making copies that was invented in 1938 by Chester Floyd Carlson (1906–1968). Xerography makes copies without using ink (hence its name). In this process, static electricity charges a lighted plate; a plastic powder (called toner) is applied to the areas of the page to remain white. Carlson marketed his revolutionary device to about 20 companies before he could interest any. The Haloid Company (later called the Xerox Corporation) marketed it, and photocopying eventually became common and inexpensive.

1938 Nylon
* A team of researchers working under Wallace H. Carothers at E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company invents a plastic that can be drawn into strong, silk-like fibers. Nylon will soon become popular as a fabric for hosiery as well as industrial applications such as cordage.

1942 Defibrillator
* Dr. Claude Beck develops a device for jump-starting the heart with a burst of electricity.

1944 Aerosol Spray Can
* The first aerosol can (a can than contains a propellant [a liquefied gas like flurocarbon] and has a spray nozzle) was invented in 1944 by Lyle David Goodloe and W.N. Sullivan. They were working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and were trying to find a way to spray and kill malaria carrying mosquitos during World War II for the soldiers overseas.

1945 Microwave Oven
* Cooking food with microwaves was discovered by Percy Spencer on October 8, 1945, while building magnetrons for radar sets at Raytheon. He was working on an active radar set when he noticed a strange sensation, and saw that a peanut candy bar he had in his pocket started to melt. Although he was not the first to notice this phenomenon, as the holder of 120 patents, Spencer was no stranger to discovery and experiment, and realized what was happening. The radar had melted his candy bar with microwaves. The first food to be deliberately cooked with microwaves was popcorn, and the second was an egg (which exploded in the face of one of the experimenters).

1947 Cellular Phones (aka Mobile Phones)
* Early mobile FM (frequency modulation radio was invented by Edwin H. Armstrong in 1935) radio telephones had been in use in the USA since 1946, but since the number of radio frequencies are very limited in any area, the number of phone calls was also very limited. Only a dozen or two calls could be made at the same time in an area. To solve this problem, there could be many small areas (called cells) which share the same frequencies. But when users moved from one area to another while calling, the call would have to be switched over automatically without losing the call. In this system, a small number of radio frequencies could accommodate a huge number of calls. This cellular phone concept was devised by a team of researchers at Bell Labs in 1947, but there were no computers available to do the switching. As small inexpensive computers were developed, cell phones could be produced. Motorola holds the US patents for the cell phone.

1947 Polaroid camera
* Dr. Edwin H. Land introduces a new camera that can produce a developed photographic image in sixty seconds. Land will follow in the 1960s with a color model and eventually receive more than 500 patents for his innovations in light and plastics technologies.

1947 Scrabble
* The word game Scrabble was developed by Alfred Mosher Butts in 1948. James Brunot did some rearranging of the squares and simplified the rules. A copyright was granted on December 1, 1948. Alfred Butts had been an architect, but lost his job in 1931 (during the depression). He then began developing games, including Lexico, Criss-Crosswords, and them Scrabble. After about 4 years of paltry sales, Scrabble became a hit.

1948 Video Game
* The patent for a Cathode-Ray Tube Amusement Device was first filed on January 25, 1947 by Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann, and was issued on December 14, 1948. Eight vacuum tubes were used to simulate a missile firing at a target, and the device featured knobs to adjust the curve and speed of the missile.1949 Radiocarbon dating
* In 1949, Willard F. Libby invented the procedure for carbon-14 dating.

1950 Disposable Diaper (aka Nappies)
* The disposable diaper was invented in 1950 by Marion Donovan. Her first leak-proof diaper was a plastic-lined cloth diaper. Donovan then developed a disposable diaper. She was unsuccessful at selling her invention to established manufacturers, so she started her own company.

1953 Heart-lung machine
* Dr. John H. Gibbon performs the first successful open heart surgery in which the blood is artificially circulated and oxygenated by a heart-lung machine. This new technology, which allows the surgeon to operate on a dry and motionless heart, greatly increases surgical treatment options for heart defects and disease.

1953 Apgar Scale
* The Apgar scale is a standardized scale that is used to determine the physical status of an infant at birth. This simple, easy-to-perform test was devised in 1953 by Dr. Virginia Apgar (1909–1974), a professor of anesthesia at the New York Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. The Apgar scale is administered to a newborn at one minute after birth and five minutes after birth. It scores the baby's heart rate, respiration, muscle tone, reflex response, and color. This test quickly alerts medical personnel that the newborn needs assistance.

1953 MASER
* Charles H. Townes, J. P. Gordon, and H. J. Zeiger built the first maser at Columbia University in 1953.

1955 Nuclear Submarine
* The Nautilus, the first nuclear submarine, revolutionizes naval warfare. Conventional submarines need two engines: a diesel engine to travel on the surface and an electric engine to travel submerged, where oxygen for a diesel engine is not available. The Nautilus, the first nuclear sub, can travel many thousands of miles below the surface with a single fuel charge.

1957 Polio Vaccine
* Dr. Jonas Salk develops a polio vaccine using strains of polio too weak to cause infection but strong enough to activate the human immune system.

1959 Integrated Circuit
* Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments filed a patent for a "Solid Circuit" made of germanium on February 6, 1959. The integration of large numbers of tiny transistors into a small chip was an enormous improvement over the manual assembly of circuits using discrete electronic components.

1960 Combined oral contraceptive pill
* On May 9, 1960, the FDA announced it would approve Enovid 10 mg for contraceptive use, which it did on June 23, 1960, by which time Enovid 10 mg had been in general use for three years during which time, by conservative estimate, at least half a million women had used it

1960 Laser
* Working at Hughes Research Laboratories, physicist Theodore H. Maiman creates the first laser. The core of his laser consists of a man-made ruby -- a material that had been judged unsuitable by other scientists, who rejected crystal cores in favor of various gases.

1963 Artificial Heart
* Dr Robert Jarvik with the help of generous contributions from many benefactors created the first prototypes for a working artificial heart. The first working one was patented in 1963, but the same device was only first successfully used and proved in 1982, when the patient lived for 112 days with the heart implanted. The second patient lived 620 days.

1964 Operating System
* IBM rolls out the OS/360, the first mass-produced computer operating system. Using the OS/360, all computers in the IBM 360 family could run any software program. Already IBM is a giant in the computer industry, controlling 70% of the market worldwide.

1965 Minicomputer
* Digital Equipment introduces the PDP-8, the world's first computer to use integrated circuit technology. Because of its relatively small size and its low $18,000 price tag, Digital sells several hundred units.

1970 Optical Fiber
* Corning Glass announces it has created a glass fiber so clear that it can communicate pulses of light. GTE and AT&T will soon begin experiments to transmit sound and image data using fiber optics, which will transform the communications industry.

1972 Calculator
* Jack St. Clair Kilby (November 8, 1923 – June 20, 2005) is a Nobel Prize laureate in physics in 2000 for his invention of the integrated circuit in 1958 while working at Texas Instruments (TI). He is also the inventor of handheld calculator and thermal printer.

1974 Product Barcode
* The first shipments of bar-coded products arrive in American stores. Scanners at checkout stations read the codes using laser technology. The hand-punched keyboard cash register takes one step closer to obsolescence.

1979 Human-Powered Flight
* Cyclist Byron Allen crosses the English Channel in a pedal-powered aircraft called the Gossamer Albatross. The flight takes 2 hours, 49 minutes, and wins a £100,000 prize for its crew, headed by designer Dr. Paul MacCready. Constructed of Mylar, polystyrene, and carbon-fiber rods, the Albatross has a wingspan of convert|93|ft|10|in|m and weighs about 70 pounds.

1981 Space Shuttle
* For the first time, NASA successfully launches and lands its reusable spacecraft, the Space Shuttle. The shuttle can be used for a number of applications, including launch, retrieval, and repair of satellites and as a laboratory for physical experiments. While extremely successful, the shuttle program will suffer a disaster in 1986 when the shuttle Challenger explodes after takeoff, killing all on board.

1981 Graphic User Interface
* Xerox PARC creates the first modern GUI.

1982 Artificial Heart
* Dr. Robert Jarvik implants a permanent artificial heart, the Jarvik 7, into Dr. Barney Clark. The heart, powered by an external compressor, keeps Clark alive for 112 days.

1983 TCP/IP Protocol
* The first TCP/IP-wide area network was operational by January 1, 1983, when the United States' National Science Foundation (NSF) constructed a university network backbone that would later become the NSFNet. (This date is held by some to be technically that of the birth of the Internet.) It was then followed by the opening of the network to commercial interests in 1985. As of March 10, 2007, 2.114 billion people use the Internet, according to Internet World Stats, for many uses including e-mails and accessing the World Wide Web.

1990 Hubble Telescope
* The space shuttle Discovery deploys the Hubble Space telescope convert|350|mi|km above the Earth. Although initial flaws limit its capabilities, the Hubble will be responsible for numerous discoveries and advances in the understanding of space.

1995 Galileo (spacecraft)
* The Galileo spacecraft after 6 years and 2.35 billion miles gains orbit around Jupiter. It will make at least 10 passes of the Galilean moons and act as a relay station for the Galileo probe.

1998 Stem cell line
* Researchers announce that they have successfully grown human stem cells in a laboratory, a major advance that could one day help in organ transplantation, gene therapy and treatment of such maladies as paralysis, diabetes and AIDS.

2003 Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe
* February 11 - NASA's WMAP takes first detailed "baby picture" of the universe. The image reveals the universe is 13.7 billion years old (within one percent error) and provides evidence that supports the inflationary theory.

2004 NASA X-43
* NASA builds the X-43, attaining speeds in excess of Mach 9.8, the fastest free flying air-breathing hypersonic flight.

2004 Spirit Rover
* Mars Exploration Rover - A, known as Spirit, is the first of the two rovers of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Mission. It landed successfully on Mars on 04:35 Ground UTC on January 4, 2004, three weeks before its twin Opportunity (MER-B) landed on the other side of the planet. Its name was chosen through a NASA-sponsored student essay competition.

2006 HPV vaccine
* University of Louisville researchers discover a vaccine against major strains of the human papillomavirus, the main cause of genital warts and cervical cancer; the discovery is heralded as effectively being the first vaccine against cancer.

See also

* Creativity techniques


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