Over the past few centuries, we have given so many male inventors the credit they deserve for their phenomenal contributions to the world. But it is far less common to read about female inventors. It’s so rare, in fact, that we think there may be a few inventions you still don’t know were developed by a powerful woman!
You will soon find out just how much these brilliant inventors changed our everyday lives in the most practical ways. Without further ado, here are 15 amazing inventions that were introduced by equally amazing female inventors.
1. Marion Donovan and the waterproof diaper cover.
As a frustrated mother growing tired of cloth diapers in 1951, Marion created a nylon parachute cloth diaper cover to prevent leaks and reduce skin rashes. She replaced the pins with snaps and later engendered the disposable diaper, but she was ahead of her time as no material existed yet to bring her dream to fruition.
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2. Margaret A. Wilcox and the first car heater.
Margaret, a 19th-century mechanical engineer, decided that cars shouldn’t have to be so cold in the winter months and rightfully so! She thought up a car heating system that would direct heat from the engine to warm the drivers’ hands. She was granted a patent for her design in 1893, which was the first time she had been able to legally do so as a woman.
3. Marie Van Brittan Brown and the home security system.
Living in Queens, New York, where the crime rate was high and the city’s emergency response time was slow, she filed a patent in 1966 for a security camera that could be nestled discreetly on the front door and connected to an at-home TV monitor. She and her husband improved the safety of people around the world as the first to use closed-circuit televisions for home security.
4. Melitta Bentz and the coffee filter.
Founder of the coffee company Melitta, Melitta Bentz was determined to solve the problem of over-brewed coffee and forever rid her drinks of pesky stray coffee grounds. She experimented with the blotting paper from her son’s schoolbook, and it was a success. She received her patent in 1908. Coffee drinkers around the world rejoice!
5. Elizabeth Magie and the prequel to Monopoly.
Elizabeth invented The Landlord’s Game and received a patent in 1904. A game designed with a powerful social purpose, it showed the devastating issues of uncontrolled monopolism, as well as the great benefits of a healthy economy. The game was a hit, and the Parker Brothers followed her lead with Monopoly in 1935.
6. Mária Telkes and heating homes with solar energy.
Nicknamed “the Sun Queen,” biophysicist Mária Telkes first became known for her solar-powered water desalination machine, which became a great aid to both soldiers and sailors in WWII. In 1948, she partnered with architect Eleanor Raymond to develop a revolutionary home that utilized only solar energy as its heat source.
7. Patricia Bath and laser cataract surgery.
Ophthalmologist Patricia Bath began her creation of laser cataract surgery in 1981. After successfully completing her invention, she received a patent in 1988. Her device, the Laserphaco Probe, provided a near-permanent solution to cataracts. She brought sight back to innumerable people and became the first African American woman to be granted a patent for medical purposes.
8. Hedy Lamarr and wireless transmission.
During WWII, actress Hedy Lamarr worked with composer George Antheil to create an untraceable frequency-hopping signal to prevent radio-controlled torpedoes from being set off course. She received her patent in 1942. The technology was later used in 1962 on Navy ships during the Cuban Missile Crisis and has had impacts on both Bluetooth and WiFi technology.
9. Caresse Crosby and the bra.
On a fateful day in 1910, Caresse was headed to a ball in a dress that simply wouldn’t work with a corset. So with the help of her maid, she gathered some ribbon, a couple of handkerchiefs, and a needle and thread, and then she sewed up a garment with shoulder straps connected to lace coverings, which tied at the front. She received a patent for her “Backless Brassiere” in 1914.
10. Ann Tsukamoto and stem cell isolation.
While working with blood-forming cells with some of her colleagues, they had a groundbreaking moment in which they developed a technique for isolating the stem cells. Receiving a patent for their method in 1991, they have now revolutionized stem cell research, which has gone on to help with numerous treatments, particularly those for cancer and some autoimmune diseases.
11. Margaret Knight and the flat-bottomed paper bag.
While working at a paper bag company, Margaret was distressed by how long the process of hand-gluing the envelope-like bags took, the inconvenience of the bags’ shape, and their flimsy construction. So she created the flat-bottomed bag and an automated process for its creation and received a patent in 1879.
12. Bette Nesmith Graham and liquid paper.
At the height of electric typewriters’ popularity after WWII, executive secretary Bette Nesmith Graham was frustrated by the impossibility of correcting typing mistakes. Upon noticing how painters cover up their own errors, Bette had the idea to create a similar process and started selling her invention, “Mistake Out,” in 1956. She later earned a patent for the updated version, “Liquid Paper,” in 1958, and sold it in 1979 for $47.5 million.
13. Mary Anderson and the driver-controlled windshield wiper.
Entrepreneur Mary Anderson took a trip to New York in 1903 and noticed that a trolley car driver had to wipe his windscreen with his own hands to be able to see through the sleet. Soon after, she teamed up with a designer to create a hand-operated device that could be used from inside the car. The first successful invention of its kind, her invention is now a staple in every modern-day vehicle.
14. Tabitha Babbitt and the circular saw.
Though there is speculation around this invention as Tabitha was a member of a religious group that prevented its members from applying for patents, she is credited as the original inventor of the circular saw. She solved the efficiency problems of the whipsaw by positioning a round blade onto her spinning wheel (which was powered by a pedal), and thus the first circular saw was born.
15. Alice H. Parker and central heating.
Growing up with many freezing New Jersey winters, Alice Parker knew there had to be a better way to distribute warmth than by using a fireplace. So in 1919, she received a patent for her gas furnace, which utilized air ducts that were individually controlled to disperse warmth throughout a building. Though it still needed some heat regulation tweaks, it pioneered modern-day central heating.
We already knew the world couldn’t survive without women, but now we realize how much today’s society has changed thanks to their brilliance! We’re so thankful for their innovative creativity and courageous moves, which paved the way for the rest of us!
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