Eureka

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Inventions made way for progress. Then why neglect to acknowledge the inventions that paved the way to live better & think different. The root for all developments it’s our way of saying "Eureka".


  • Drinking straws

    What

    Drinking straws are hollow tubes of various materials that are used to transfer beverages from glasses or containers directly into the mouth.

    Who

    Marvin C Stone

    Drinking straws When

    1888

    How

    Drinking straws have been around for a long time and ancient models of these have been found in the Sumerian culture and in Argentina. Rye grass straws have been used since the 1800s. These straws got soggy, changed the taste of the drink due to their residue and left sediments. To overcome these drawbacks Marvin Stone wound paper strips around a pencil and stuck it together with glue and later refined this by using paraffin coated paper. A machine was also invented for winding the straws. Joseph Friedman invented the bendy straws in 1937 to deliver the drink directly to the mouth conveniently.

    Now

    Drinking straws are now available in different colours, diameters and designs. Newer straws include miniature straws in drink boxes, straws made of candy, flavoured straws that flavour the drink and colour changer straws. In 1928, electrical engineers spiral wound tubes by the same process used by Marvin stone for his straws. Now these spiral wound tubes are used in many applications like electric and electronic devices and components, aerospace and textile industries, fuses, batteries, transformers, and packaging.

  • Airbags

    What

    Air bags are safety devices in vehicles that inflate during an automobile collision and protect the passengers from injury.

    Airbags Who

    Allen Breed

    When

    1968

    How

    Though automobiles had air filled bladders as early as 1941, it was a German engineer Walter Linderer who designed the airbag using compressed air and obtained a patent for it in 1951. Later research showed that compressed air could not inflate the bag fast enough. In 1953, a patent was awarded in the U.S to John Hetrick. Allen Breed invented the sensor and safety system, the first electro- mechanical automotive airbag system. In Japan, Yasuzaburou Kobor invented an airbag in 1963. In 1971 Ford Car Company made an experimental airbag fleet. Later General Motors and Chevrolet also introduced them. Earlier airbags had issues related to design which caused fatalities due to it. Now the designs are improved and they are mandatory in all cars.

    Now

    These days there are various frontal and side impact air bags whose inflation depends on crash severity, seat belt use, seat position and occupant size. Now there are knee airbags, pedestrian airbags and those meant to be used in motorcycles.

  • Teddy Bear

    Teddy Bear What

    Teddy bears are soft stuffed toy bears.

    Who

    Morris Michtom

    When

    1902

    How

    A political cartoon in 1902 in the Washington Post showed the then United States President Theodore Roosevelt, whose nickname was Teddy, on a bear hunt with a hander who had lassoed a bear for the President to shoot. Morris Michtom a candy store owner saw this which inspired him to create a stuffed toy which he called Teddy’s bear after he got the President’s permission to use his name. The toy was a success and Michtom founded the Ideal Toy Company. Richard Steiff also created a similar toy at about the same time in Germany.

    Now

    Since then this toy has gained immense popularity and is now produced by many manufacturers and sold worldwide. From being just a toy, it has gained various images including being a collector’s item. Teddy bears have featured in books, television series and movies. Other than entertaining children, they are also popular gift items for significant others on Valentine’s Day, birthdays and other special days.

  • Escalators

    Escalators What

    Escalators are moving stairs that move people between floors of a building.

    Who

    Jesse Reno

    When

    1892

    How

    A patent for a steam driven escalator like machine was given to a Massachusetts man Nathan Ames in 1859. Jesse Reno patented his moving staircase or inclined elevator in 1892. He created a novelty who created the name 'escalator'. He got together with the Otis Company and made a commercial escalator in 1899. This wooden escalator won the first prize at the Paris 1900 Exposition Universelle in France. Later Otis Company bought the patent from Charles Seeberger in 1910 and from Jesse Reno in 1911.

    Now

    Otis dominated the escalator business for a long time, but it lost the trademark when the U.S Patent Office ruled that the word escalator had become common word for moving stairway.

  • Roller blades

    Roller blades What

    Roller blades are a brand of inline skates.

    Who

    Scott Olsen and Brennan Olsen

    When

    1979

    How

    Roller skates have been around since the 1700s.Inventors in various parts of the world used innovative materials and designs to develop this accessory used in sports, ballets and amusements. Scot and Brennan Olsen, hockey playing brothers found an antique pair of roller skates which used inline wheels. Intrigued by the inline design they redesigned the skates using polyurethane wheels attached to hockey boots with rubber toe brakes. They established Rollerblade Inc in 1983 and rollerblading became a sport.

    Now

    The older rollerblades had flaws which were improved on when the corporation changed hands. Newer designs used fibreglass as frames, were easier to put on and had brakes placed at the rear. Later models used belts instead of laces for fastening and lighter weight materials as frames. New brake designs increased safety. When rollerblading caught on, many other companies ventured in to manufacturing this accessory.

  • Zip fastener

    Zip fastener What

    A device that joins together two edges of fabric temporarily.

    Who

    Gideon Sundback who improved on Whitcomb Judson “ Clasp Locker”

    When

    1878

    How

    An automatic continuous clothing closure by Elias Howe was patented in 1851 which was a precursor to modern zipper. But his work on inventing the sewing machine caused him to lay aside this invention. Forty years later Whitcomb Judson seeing a friend with a stiff back who could not tie his shoe laces marketed the clasp locker he made as a hook and eye shoe fastener. He founded the Universal Fastener Company to manufacture the device. Swedish born Gideon Sundback, chief designer at the company worked on improving it. The death of his wife made him busy himself with this work which led to the invention of the separable fastener in 1913. It was the B.F. Goodrich Company which used this fastener on boots and galoshes and renamed the invention as zipper.

    Now

    The zipper was first used in tobacco pouches and shoes. It was much later that the fashion and garment industry adopted the invention. It was first used in children’s clothing to make them self reliant. The U.S Navy used it on flying suits. Zippers that are opened in both ends are used today on jackets. Today the zipper is used everywhere. The YKK Company of Japan is famous for making zippers worldwide. Airtight and water tight zippers are being used in spacesuits, scuba diving suits and hazmat suit for whole body protection from hazardous materials.

  • Bar codes

    Barcodes What

    Bar codes are machine readable data that gives information of the object to which it is attached.

    Who

    Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver

    When

    1952

    How

    A precursor to the bar code was worked on by Wallace Flint at the Harvard University in 1932.However it was Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver who worked on the first barcode system after hearing a local food chain owner’s need for a system to automatically read product information during checkout. They first used a system of ultraviolet ink that proved too expensive and faded easily. Woodland later turned to Morse code for inspiration and extended dots and dashes to narrow and broad lines while drawing on sand on a beach. He later used optical soundtrack from movies to read this data of lines illuminated by a 500 watt bulb. The data was later put in a circle to enable it to be read from any direction, giving it a bull’s eye pattern. David Collins of Pennsylvania Railroad also developed and researched and used a system to read railroad carriages in 1960s.

    Now

    Universal Grocery Product Code or UPC which is still used today was first used in 1974. Barcoding has helped to save billions of dollars to the grocery industry by saving labour and giving ready data for use. Similar codes are now being used in other industries and the military. A two dimensional system has also evolved and is being used. Future probably lies in Radiofrequency Identification System which does not degrade with time or does not need direct line of sight to the scanner to be read. Once a low cost chip is available, this system may replace the present system we have in place.

  • Cellophane film

    Cellophane film What

    Cellophane film is a thin transparent paper like sheet of viscose used in food packing.

    Who

    Jacques E. Brandenberger, a Swiss chemist

    When

    1912

    How

    A wine spill on a table cloth at a restaurant while he was dining, set Jacques E Brandenberger thinking on a cloth that repels water. He worked on spraying cloth with a waterproof material, viscose. When the clear material separated from the cloth, it was flexible and waterproof. So he pursued work on this new material. In ten years of work, the film was made soft by adding glycerine. He also made a machine to produce the film calling it cellophane and later obtaining a patent for it. Later, the company Comptoir des Textiles Artificiels (CTA) bought his interest in Cellophane and a new company La Cellophane SA was formed for Brandenberger.

    Now

    At first cellophane was used in gas masks and for wrapping chocolates. In 1923 The La Cellophane SA gave DuPont company the rights to manufacture cellophane in the north and central America. Since it was not moisture proof, its use was limited. Chemist William Hale Charch of DuPont spent three years developing a nitrocellulose lacquer, that when applied to Cellophane, made it moisture proof. This increased its sales considerably. Other than its use in food packaging, cellophane is now also used as base for adhesive tapes, in dialysis tubing, batteries and as plastic wrap. Nowadays, they are used innovatively in arts and crafts.

  • Super Glue

    Super Glue What

    Super Glue is a cyanoacrylate which is a fast acting and a strong adhesive that binds together many materials.

    Who

    Dr Harry Coover & Dr Fred Joyner

    When

    1951

    How

    While experimenting to develop a clear plastic for gun sights in 1942, Dr Harry Coover working for Kodak Research Laboratories discovered a clear plastic which was the cynoacrylate superglue. He rejected the material it as it was too sticky for the purpose. Seeing cyanoacrylate’s possibility to glue together many things with great strength, Dr Harry Coover and Dr Fred Joyner rediscovered it in 1951. Kodak developed it as Eastman 910 and a few years later it was introduced as the first true Super Glue.

    Now

    Super Glue now has many brands that can be used in diverse applications. Various other manufacturers too have introduced cyanoacrylates for many uses. A non toxic and less irritating cyanoacrylate is now used as veterinary and skin glue. Some products are also used as industrial grade glues. It is believed that cyanoacrylates will evolve in newer and stronger forms in the future to meet the required needs.

  • Band-Aid

    Band-Aid What

    Band-Aid is an adhesive bandage.

    Who

    Earle Dickson, an employee of Johnson & Johnson

    When

    1920

    How

    Earle Dickson’s wife Josephine cut and burnt herself often while cooking. He invented the Band Aid so that she could dress herself without assistance. Later Dickson shared the idea with his employer who went on to hand make the product and sell it as Band-Aid. The product gained popularity when it was distributed free to Boy Scouts. Later, they were machine made and sold sterilised. During World War II, large quantities of Band –Aid were shipped abroad from USA which popularised it.

    Now

    Since then, the Band–Aid has undergone many transformations. They were made available in different sizes. From plastic, clear strip and sheer vinyl bandages, the range travelled to decorative bandages. Today Barbie, Dora the explorer, Superman, Spiderman, Batman and many more such Band-Aid themes are available. Band-Aid has travelled to outer space with Mercury astronauts. Band-Aid with antibiotic and the new liquid bandage by the same name are the latest additions. Having travelled almost across the globe, this humble invention is in every home and its commercial jingle says it all…….I am stuck on Band-Aid.

  • Drinking straws
  • Airbags
  • Teddy Bear
  • Escalators
  • Roller blades
  • Zip fastener
  • Bar codes
  • Cellophane film
  • Super Glue
  • Band-Aid

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