Thomas Edison

Technology affects every aspect of our society and according to the Brookings Institution the most productive periods in the United States occurred during the early 20th century and the Great Depression.

Patents are the DNA of inventions, and the most patents (per capita) were registered in 1883, 1885, 1890, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1931, 1932 2010 and 2011. They established new industries, businesses and economies.

Listed below are  some of the inventions from those years, which includes Apple CEO Steve Jobs

1883 Thomas Edison’s Voltage Regulator:

Megastar-inventor Thomas Edison has claimed more than 1,000 patents, including the phonograph, light bulb and Voltage Regulator that was key to the development of radio, television and computer transistors.

1885 Machine Gun:

American-born British citizen Hiram Maxim invented a self-powered portable and fully-automatic machine gun that changed warfare. Its effects on society and the constitutional right to own it are still being debated today.

1890 Stop Sign:

William Phelps Eno proposed the first set of traffic rules and signs in an article published in Rider and Driver, although the first actual sign didn’t appear until 1915.

1915 Stainless Steel Sink:

The discovery of a new “rustless” steel by British metallurgist Harry Brearley was announced in the New York Times in 1915. Brearley applied for a patent during the same year, but American Elwood Haynes beat him to it. Its shiny surface, strength and corrosive resistant properties revolutionized modern industry from skyscrapers to kitchen utensils, trains and planes to medicine.

1916 Condenser Microphone:

Edward C. Wente of New Jersey’s Bell Labs invented the electronic condenser microphone in1916, which can be found today in recording, television, film and radio studios.

1917 Modern Zipper:

Gideon Sundback figured out that 10 fasteners per inch works much better than four and invented the modern zipper, also known as, “separable fastener.” Used to close boots and tobacco pouches, the zipper didn’t get into clothing for another 20 years.

1931 Stop-action Photography:

Harold “Doc” Edgerton began playing around with strobe lighting while a grad student at MIT, developed both stop-action and ultra-high speed photography. His images of exploding bullets, running athletes and milk droplets became iconic photos. He went on to invent underwater time-lapse photography, atomic bomb timing and lights for copiers and flash photography.

1932 Polarizer:

Edwin Land inventedthe polarizer in 1932, which filters light waves and reduces glare. He goes onto invent instant photography, while the polarizer leads to sunglasses, camera filters and LCDs.

2010 iPad:

Apple debued its iPad tablet in April 2010, but its history goes back to 1983, when Apple CEO Steve Jobs said he wanted to build a computer that users could carry around like a book, plug into telephone communications and link to libraries and other databases. The firm sold 23 million in the last quarter of 2012; total sales now top 100 million.

2011 Stark Hand:

This prosthetic hand is cheaper, lighter and doesn’t need wires or batteries. Garage inventor Mark Stark came up with this device in 2011 to help a neighbor who had been born without a hand. It’s now under commercial development.

Click on Brookings Institution to visit the interesting website


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3 Comments on Best Inventions of the creative years 1833 to 2011

  1. Peter K. says:

    Fascinating stuff. Loved the stop sign. Often the simplest stuff is the best. The why did nobody think of this one before kind of thing.

  2. TigerLilly says:

    Thankful for the zipper and the all the rest. When are you going to do another super hero article? I’ve learned a lot from this eclectic site. No stodge here. You manage to keep it interesting.

  3. Mia M. says:

    Very interesting blog post. Thomas Edison was amazing and a great example of “if at first you don’t succeed…”

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