American Inventors

Benjamin Franklin

One of the founders of the country, Benjamin Franklin was a man of many talents. He was a diplomat, writer, postmaster and businessman. One of his most lasting legacies is the skill he had as one of the most famous American inventors. Perhaps the most famous image of Ben Franklin is of him flying the kite up into a storm with a key at the end of the line. His many experiments with electricity led him to invent the lighting rod, which is one of the most widely used inventions in the world. Franklin also invented bifocals, which is another invention that is ubiquitous. Other inventions that Franklin came up with include the Franklin stove, an odometer, a flexible urinary catheter and a glass harmonica.

Samuel F.B. Morse

Morse was born in 1791 and for most of his life communication in the United States was very slow. Letters carried by horse and train made getting information disseminated quickly nearly impossible. Morse changed that with his invention of the telegraph. He created his first working telegraph line from Baltimore to Washington, DC in 1844. Within 10 years, more than 23,000 miles of telegraph lines were strung throughout the country. This invention changed the nature of communication and made distance no longer an obstacle in communicating.

Thomas Alva Edison

Edison is one of the most prolific American inventors in the history of the country. He held hundreds of patents at the time of his death. His most famous invention was the incandescent light bulb, which he invented in 1880. Edison also came up with the fluoroscope, which was the earliest machine that could take X-ray pictures. Music lovers everywhere should thank Edison for his invention of the phonograph, the first device capable of playing recorded sounds.

Orville and Wilbur Wright

These two famous brothers created one of the most important inventions in human history, the airplane. They made the first airplane flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903. As well as inventing the first airplane, they also invented the three-axis control system for aircraft. This control system is the same one that every pilot uses to control an airplane today.

Alexander Graham Bell

Bell was one of the most prolific American inventors who is most famous for his invention of the first practical telephone. In 1875, he designed a device that could use the existing telegraph lines to carry human speech. He also invented the metal detector as well as the hydrofoil. Bell also was a major innovator in the field of aeronautics. He invented the aileron, which is a flap on the wing that allows an aircraft to roll.

Vladimir Kozmich Zworykin

Zworkyin is not a name that many Americans know, but they sure love using the device that was created with his inventions, the television. Zworkyin was born in Russia in 1888. He came to the United States after World War I and shortly thereafter came up with a television system that employed cathode ray tubes. This was the start of his continued work developing the television throughout the 1920s and 1930s. He also is famous for inventing the electron microscope.

Dr. Jonas Salk

Before Salk invented the first polio vaccine; polio was one of the most terrifying diseases in the world. Epidemics broke out yearly, crippling and killing many victims. Many of the victims were children. Salk’s vaccine that was introduced in 1955 has saved millions of lives.

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Great Hunting Inventions

Man has hunted game animals since prehistoric times. Early man hunted using sticks and stones so pretty much anything beyond a rock are a new invention to the sport of hunting. While some hunters still rely on their success in the field to furnish the bulk of the sustenance for the family, most hunters now pursue game animals for the sport with meat consumption a secondary concern. Many of the great inventions in the field of hunting have occurred in the time since hunting became recreation as opposed to survival.

Optics
You can’t shoot what you can’t see. Binoculars improve the hunter’s ability to see game in the distance. Hunters can plan their hunt if they can see the game animal before it senses them. A good set of binoculars gives the hunter and advantage over the highly developed senses of sight and smell found in most game animals and is particularly important for hunters in open country.
Another one of the great inventions used by hunters is the telescopic sight or scope. Originally developed by the military for sniper rifles, the telescopic sight mounts on the top of the gun. It provides optical magnification making the target appear closer and includes sighting crosshairs. When properly aligned the crosshairs of scope indicates where the bullet will strike. A scope, properly fitted and sighted in, extends the effective range of a hunting rifle by several hundred yards. A responsible hunter practices with the gun and scope and understands the best range for an effective shot.

Camouflage
Hunters, usually hunters using archery equipment, wear camouflage to blend into the natural surroundings. Over the past years, a number of highly realistic camouflage prints have been developed. These are more effective than the earlier materials of patchy shades of various shades of green. Camouflage is not commonly used in gun hunting of big game. Most state’s hunting regulations require hunters wear blaze orange to increase their visibility by other hunters helping to prevent hunting accidents. In recent years camouflage clothing has become fashionable for attire for non-hunting wear.

Trail Cameras
Hunting went digital with the invention of the digital trail camera. These devices use a motion sensor to trigger the shutter of a camera capturing a photograph of any animal on the trail. This great invention gives the hunter a glimpse of the animals using that particular trail. Knowing what game is in your hunting area allows the hunter to better plan his hunt.

Scent Blocks
Most game animals have highly developed senses of smell. They have learned to detect and fear the scent of humans. Early hunters simply stayed upwind of the game animal to avoid detection. Modern scent blocking technology includes soaps and shampoos that mask the human scent. These are particularly useful for archery hunters that pursue game at closer range.

Decoys
The earliest hunters used carved wood ducks and geese as decoys for hunting. They were difficult to produce and heavy to carry in the field. One of the great inventions for modern hunters has been the lighter fiberglass and plastic decoys. The modern decoy allows the hunter to move easily to new hunting locations without the added weight of wood decoys.

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Eli Whitney

Eli Whitney was among famous inventors born in the United States in 1765. He spent his life creating things but is best known for inventing the cotton gin during a notable era in American history, the Industrial Revolution. Whitney’s invention was instrumental in revitalizing the economy in the South, which had taken a downward spiral.

The cotton gin, gin being short for engine, eased the laborious manual task of removing seeds from cotton. Since the Southern states were a prime region for growing cotton, this gem among famous inventors had a hit on his hands when it was discovered up to 55 pounds of cotton could be cleaned on a daily basis. This invention strengthened the South’s waning economy and transformed cotton into a profitable crop.

Whitney’s farm machine impacted the South very favorably but the inventor was faced with numerous challenges regarding the cotton gin. Whitney never intended to sell the gin. Instead he thought it would be profitable to charge farmers to clean their cotton on a case-by-case basis. Other enterprising businessmen, hoping also to become famous inventors, saw the potential of Whitney’s invention and made their own versions to sell to the farmers.

The competition got ahead. Ongoing legal battles alleging patent infringements of the machine were costly. Instead of enjoying profits from his invention, Whitney was forced out of business.
Meanwhile, the cotton gin was being lauded for being a time saver for cotton pickers. The cotton industry swelled to economic proportions in the United States. The country became a sought after exporter. Cotton was able to survive long storage periods and could travel long distances without threat of spoilage, making European distribution possible. The cotton gin’s efficiency continued to improve and in a few years went from separating half a million pounds of cotton to over 90 million pounds during a short period. Not long afterward, cotton became the major United States export.

In the era of the late 1700’s rice, tobacco and indigo were the primary markets but none was particularly profitable. Cotton farming and exportation transformed the industry and is said to have also revitalized a fledgling slave market. Whitney was famous but he had achieved no wealth from his invention.

Refusing to give up on his invention, Whitney found other means to make a living while continuing his legal fight. In the ensuing years, Whitney secured government contracts to manufacture arms for a start-up continental army.

Whitney received a patent for the cotton gin in 1794 but it was well over a decade before the cotton gin was validated. After years of court appearances, the design of Whitney’s cotton gin was scrutinized and discovered to have had design flaws. These were later corrected and in 1807, 13 years after its initial introduction, the cotton gin was recognized as Whitney’s.
Whitney lived to have the satisfaction of seeing how his invention helped bring the South out of its economic struggles as well as to help the whole United States with its own skirmishes. He died in 1825.

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The Best Dog Grooming Inventions Ever Made

Some dog breeds need an occasional bath and drying with a towel to keep their coats looking good. Some dogs have transparent nails making it easy to see where the sensitive blood supply is at. On the other hand, there are many pet owners who have a hard time managing grooming tasks. Shedding may be a real problem, and more than one pet owner has accidentally nipped a nail causing it to bleed. There are inventions that help with all of this, and some of them were not even originally intended for use on dogs.

Electric Hair Clippers

Probably at the top of the list of great inventions for dog grooming is electric clippers that barbers and stylists have been using on human hair for decades. In fact, except for package labeling and specific blade attachments, it is practically impossible to tell human hair clippers from dog ones. Some pet owners even decide to have the clippers they use serve a dual duty.

Nail Clippers and Grinders

Most pet owners have seen the small devices that have a hole where the dog’s nail is pushed through. A blade from below then squeezes the nail to cut it off. These are okay for small dogs. Larger breeds are served better by the nail cutters that look more like pliers. However, it is still easy to cut into the quick using any sort of cutter. Nail grinders and sanders are much easier to use. A nail can still be ground too far, but the action of grinding or sanding away small portions of the nail at a time gives a much greater degree of control.

The great inventions in this regard are not the tiny battery powered nail grinders for people or even ones made for pets. The best ones are the common rotary tool that will accept various attachment tips. The small rotary drum sanding attachments work best for sanding and shaping the nails of dogs. The noise can scare some pets, requiring a slow introduction using positive reinforcement. When it comes to nails on big dogs, this is the greatest of the great inventions for grooming dog nails.

Rakes

A rake is a handheld tool that works to pull out clumping hair typical of breeds such as Labrador Retrievers. Labs have a dual coat since they are water dogs. The rake typically has about five pointy tines in a handheld device that is run through the coat. It works like a leaf rake would on the lawn. The buildup of hair clumps are pulled away from the existing coat like leaves off of a lawn. The hair falls away and clumps up on the tines where it is easy to dispose of. The raking action spreads oils in the fur that are already present making the coat shiny looking.

Shedding Blades

Some dogs seem like they can shed a carpet of fur every single day. A shedding blade looks like a dulled saw blade that has been bent. The teeth are pointy but not sharp. The blade is run through the coat to remove loose hair. Like rakes, they do require extra care when used around joints, bumps and sensitive skin areas. Dogs act as if it was a back scratcher that was custom designed for them.

There are many more fantastic inventions for dog grooming, but these ones are the favorites among pet owners who take on the grooming tasks themselves. These tools make the task of grooming easier and quicker to accomplish with just a minimal investment in supplies.

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Funny Inventions of 2011

A carpet that serves as a couch is the first of several funny inventions of 2011. It looks like a section of waves in the sea, but the rises are comfortable places to recline on the floor to watch TV, read or whatever else people do on a carpet on the floor.

The combination of scissors and a spatula to cut pizza is another funny invention. It looks awkward but is actually quiet useful. The spatula is a pizza-piece shaped triangle and slides under the pizza. The attached very large scissors then cut perfectly straight slices of pizza without bits still connected to create a mess.

A laptop skin that looks like an antique leather bound book is a funny contradiction that is attractive and interesting. With a Moroccan leather binding complete with coat of arms and volume number, it is very realistic until the owner opens the zipper, which certainly isn’t antique.

Anyone addicted to the computer will appreciate the transparent keyboard case. It is a small, clear plastic table that fits perfectly over a keyboard and has shallow depressions for a plate and cup. It may take a few minutes to make the toast and coffee, but it can be eaten without leaving the computer.

Egg cutters look like cookie cutters with a handle. They sit on a frying pan and the raw egg is put inside. The egg cooks sunny-side-up in the shape of a flower or heart. They are a nice invention for a breakfast or brunch party, but pretty useless otherwise.

The iCarta iPod toilet roll is an iPod dock that also holds a roll of toilet paper. It is useful to have an iPod dock that has a double purpose, and the bathroom is just the place. It plays tunes or podcasts for anyone in the tub or anywhere else in the bathroom.

A really useful invention for tea lovers is the teapot frame. The pot has to ears that rest on the top of steel crutches. It can be poured without spilling a drop or burning anyone with hot tea. The steel frames are secured to a round polished piece of wood with a depression for the cup in just the right place.

The baby keeper is one of the funny inventions that can be really useful. It allows the baby to enter a toilet cubical with the mother or caretaker without being put on the floor. It is like a baby carrier with hooks on the handles instead of backpack straps. The hooks can be put on the top of the cubical door and the baby just hangs like a purse.

The bedtime reading quilt is the size of a double bed and has several layers of material each with bedtime stories printed in large letters. It’s actually quite good looking, in a black and white stripes sort of way, and is easy for children to read.

Of all the funny inventions of 2011, the toilet bowl drinking bowl for dogs is pretty funny. It looks just like a toilet with seat and tank, and the tank has a hole where a bottle of water can be put to replenish the water as the puppy drinks. Even though it’s quite funny to see, the hope is it doesn’t train the puppy to drink out of the toilet if or when it gets big enough to do so.

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Funny Dog Inventions

We love our dogs. They’re our pets, our friends, our walking companions, and members of our families, even if they do have four legs and fur. So it stands to reason that creative humans would get to work inventing devices to make life easier for dogs and their owners. Sometimes this works out nicely; plenty of dogs enjoy themselves thoroughly trying to get treats or peanut butter out of a Kong toy, for example. Other devices… well, they could politely be described as funny inventions.

Take the Neuticle. Evidently some dog owners feel that their dog will be “less masculine” if they get him neutered, even though it’s the responsible thing to do. Inventor Gregg Miller therefore devised fake testicles out of solid medical grade silicone. These can be slipped into the scrotum after the real testicles are removed, and the dog retains its previous, non-neutered appearance. Vanity, thy name is dog. Or at least, thy name is dog owner.

Have you always wondered what your dog is trying to tell you? Maybe the Bow-Lingual can help. The Bow-Lingual is an electronic microphone which attaches to your dog’s collar. When the dog makes a noise, the microphone transmits the signal to a receiver which classifies the sound as one of six moods: assertive, needy, happy, sad, guarded, or frustrated. The receiver then displays a random phrase indicative of that mood. A happy bark, for example, might be translated as “I’m excited!” Of course, anyone who’s ever seen an excited dog doesn’t need a digital display to tell them the dog’s mood.

Perhaps your dog likes to roll in the mud, but hates to be bathed afterwards. (Yes, that describes approximately every dog who has ever existed.) The inventors of the Lavakan claim that their dog washing machine is far less stressful to pets than a traditional bath. The Lavakan is something like a drive-through car wash. You put the dog in, add soap, and the machine gets to work. Spray nozzles wash and rinse the dog from all directions while the dirty water drains out of the bottom of the machine. The process from wash to dry takes about 30 minutes. Imagine your dog. Imagine loading your dog into a Lavakan. Imagine your dog demolishing the Lavakan as he attempts to get away from the soap and water. The claim that this washer is less stressful than bathing the dog in the tub or with the hose is more than enough to class the Lavakan with the funny inventions.

Some funny inventions aren’t really inventions at all. In 1999, an inventor filed a patent application for a toy for a dog “to either fetch carry or chew…includes a main section with at least one protrusion extending therefrom that resembles a branch in appearance. The toy is formed of any of a number of materials including rubber, plastic, or wood including wood composites and is solid.” It “resembles” a branch? It can be made of wood or wood composites? Congratulations, “inventor,” you’re trying to patent the stick.

There’s no question that ingenious human inventions have improved our lives, but there’s also no question that less-ingenious inventions have improved and will continue to improve our senses of humor.

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African-American Inventors

Many African-American inventors have been credited with the creation of devices, concepts and procedures that are still in use today; whether they are in their original form, or modernized with changes in available technology.

Daniel Williams – Cardiologist

Williams earned the distinction of being the first African-American cardiologist, as well as performing the first successful open heart surgery. He created Provident Hospital, which provided other African-American medical professionals the opportunity to practice medicine and nursing, when they were not allowed to work in other hospitals. Furthermore, Provident Hospital gave African-American citizens access to medical care that was otherwise unavailable.

George Washington Carver – Agricultural Inventor

Perhaps one of the most widely known African-American inventors, Carver is credited with discovering many uses for the peanut. However, much of Carver’s significance extends beyond the peanut as a consumable product. Cotton was a common cash crop throughout much of the United States, but it, like other crops, depletes the soil of valuable nutrients if redundantly planted. Carver brought awareness to individuals about the significance of rotating cotton plants with other useful plants such as peanuts and soybeans to add nutrients back to the soil for future cotton crops, and continuing to profit from other types of harvests.

Patricia Bath – Ophthalmologist

Bath’s invention, the Laserphaco Probe, streamlined the process of cataract removal and earned her the distinction of being the first African-American woman to be granted a patent for a medical device. The Laserphaco Probe is designed to dissolve cataracts using lasers. Using one device, the dissolved tissue can be flushed and suctioned out of the eye, and a new lens inserted. Bath’s invention decreased pain for patients, improved surgical outcomes and made cataract removal possible for more patients.

Marjorie Joyner – Beautician

Joyner is credited with being granted one of the first patents by an African-American woman. Her invention of a Permanent Waving Machine helped to streamline the process many African-American women faced when straightening their hair. Instead of heating an iron and applying heat to one section at a time, the entire head of hair could be attached to heated rods to create wavy hair. This method of hair styling also lasted longer. Joyner’s invention extended beyond African-American women, and women of various racial backgrounds enjoyed the styling results.

Charles Drew – Surgeon

Blood and plasma donations have saved the lives of many individuals. Drew’s discoveries included preserving donated blood and the differences regarding transfusion of plasma versus blood. Initially, donated blood needed to be transfused within a couple of days because there was no method of preserving blood longer. Drew discovered that separating blood into its plasma and red blood cell components, before refrigeration, allowed donated blood to be preserved longer. His contributions to medicine are observed in the modern handling and preservation of blood and plasma, and the creation of blood banks.

Otis Boykin – Engineer

Pacemakers have saved countless lives for those living with fatal heart arrhythmias, and those waiting for heart transplants. Boykin is one of several African-American inventors known for technological innovations, with his most notable invention being the control unit for pacemakers. The electrical impulses from a pacemaker are vital in maintaining a normal heart rate in some individuals. Boykin’s interest in electrical components led to his resistor chips being incorporated into many products such as computers and televisions.

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