15 Inventors Behind Everyday Things that Shape Our World
9 King Gillette – Safety Razor
King Gillette was a socialist who invented the safety razor. It was a disposable razor that was safer and more economical to use.
Gillette wanted to create a product that could be used, parts of it thrown away, and then used again. He wanted to create a safety razor that is economical to buy and safe to use.
In that era, men typically used the same razor throughout their lives as razors were quite costly. Moreover, they had to sharpen the blades each time before use. He worked on developing a razor using a thin metal strip that could be thrown away when blunt.
The Gillette razor was cheap to make and buy as it had just a thin strip of metal. It was also safer to use as it gave little or no cuts while shaving. The Gillette razor became a standard for U.S. soldiers during World War I. By 1926, the company was manufacturing 2.1 million blades each day and men started using them to shave at home.
The disposable safety razors changed the way men groomed themselves back then and became a norm in society. (source)
10 Walter Hunt – Safety Pin
The safety pin was created by independent inventor Walter Hunt in 1849, for emergency clothing malfunctions.
The safety pin was invented when Hunt was twisting a piece of wire and trying to think of something that would help him pay off his debt of $15. He took a brass wire piece around eight inches long and made a coil in the center so that it would open up when released.
The clasp was given as one end in order to protect the user from the sharp edge. He got the patent for his design in 1849, but later he sold the patent to W. R. Grace and Company for $400.
This regular pin with a spring mechanism and clasp is today commonly used to fasten pieces of cloth. It is a regular household item that we take for granted. (source)
11 John Boyd Dunlop – Rubber Tyres
John Boyd Dunlop, born in 1840, invented the first practical pneumatic (filled with air under pressure) tires for his child’s tricycle. He later developed his pneumatic tires for use in cycle racing.
Humans have been trying to invent a tire since the 1800s. Earlier, Charles Macintosh’s attempts to make a tire from sap, or Charles Goodyear’s attempts to make a vulcanized rubber tire failed. Robert William Thompson in 1845, created pneumatic tires or air-filled tires, but they never went into production because of many limitations.
Finally, in 1888, John Boyd Dunlop invented a practical-use pneumatic rubber tire that later became Dunlop Tyres. This Scottish-born inventor and the veterinary surgeon was based in Ireland. He made the tire because he wanted his son’s tricycle to be more comfortable to ride.
He wrapped the wheels of the tricycle in rubber sheets and stuck them together with glue and then inflated them with a football pump. This way, he created the first air-cushioned tires.
There were several improvisations on these tires in the coming years and were soon used in automobiles as well. (source)
12 Harry Coover – Super Glue
Super Glue was accidentally invented by Dr. Harry Coover in 1942 when he was searching for materials that could aid in the making of clear plastic gun sights to be used by Allied soldiers in World War II.
Harry Wesley Coover created a new compound by trying to create clear plastic suitable for a gun sight. He accidentally created a compound, cyanoacrylate, that was quite durable but very sticky to use. Cyanoacrylate splashed everywhere and could not be removed.
Nine years later, when Coover went to the Kodak Tennessee company, he was asked to find heat-resistant polymers for jet planes. It was then he realized that his earlier invention would be perfect. Thus, Super Glue came into existence. Earlier, it was not used only for sticking things, but for treating war wounds as well.
Today, Super Glue is our super savior for sticking together our beloved artifacts, appliances, delicate parts of electronics, and much more. (source)
13 Alan MacMasters – Electric Toaster
Alan MacMasters invented the electric toaster in 1893 in Scotland and not much has changed in its design since. He named it the “Eclipse Toaster.”
The electric toaster was manufactured and marketed in Britain by the Crompton Company. It was designed by a Scottish scientist, Alan Macmasters, who was working on high luminosity underground lighting. His research led to the development of the toaster.
The first design could only toast one side of the bread, and you had to flip the bread to toast the other side. It was quite a challenge to develop a heating element that could sustain repeated high temperatures without getting damaged. Later, many improvements were made to this basic design by different people. (source)
14 Henry W. Seeley – Electric Iron
The first electric flatiron was invented by Henry W. Seeley in 1882. Its invention coincided with the electrification of all homes in the US in the 1880s.
Henry W. Seeley was an American mathematician who received the patent for the first electric flatiron in 1882. It had built-in coils and was heated on a rack. The only problem with his iron was that the built-in coils took a long time to heat and also cooled rapidly.
This iron weighed almost 15 pounds. Before his invention, gas irons were used for smoothing clothes. Later, a breakthrough in garment pressing came in the 1900s, when electric cords were developed.
The electric iron invention paved the way for much better garment irons that brought much ease into our everyday life. (source)
15 Ermal Fraze – Pop-Up Soda Cans
Ermal Fraze invented the pop-up soda can which had a pull-back tab to open the soda can. The idea came to him when he was fed up with can problems in the absence of can openers.
You had to always remember to carry a can opener whenever you wanted to drink a cold beer or a beverage from a can. Before Ermal Fraze developed the self-opening cans, one had to pierce two small holes in the top with a can opener.
The can problem led Ermal Fraze, Ernie to come up with the idea of a pop-up soda can in 1959. Once while picnicking with his friends, he realized that he had no opener and he thought that he needed to find a better way.
He wanted to create a top that could contain the liquid inside under pressure and yet be easy to open. He used the lid to form a rivet that could hold the tab in place until someone opened it.
This inventor’s design revolutionized the beverage industries, and our daily lives too! (source)
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