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Timeline of United States inventions

Henry Ford, Thomas Alva Edison, and Harvey Samuel Firestone.

This article is a timeline of inventions made by people who were citizens of the United States, or its predecessor colonies.

On March 6, 1646, the first patent in North America was issued to Joseph Jenckes by the General Court of Massachusetts for making scythes. On April 10, 1790, President George Washington signed a bill into law establishing the modern patent and trademark system which continues to be used to this day. As of February 10, 2009, the United States Patent and Trademark Office has granted 7,479,950 patents[1] Examples of patents include Nikola Tesla’s transmission of radio,[2] Ransom Eli Olds’ assembly line,[3] and Willis Carrier’s air-conditioning.[4]


Colonial Period (1607–1776)

1717 Swim fins[list membership disputed]

  • Swim fins now are made of rubber or plastic, to aid movement through the water in water sports activities. As a young boy and avid swimmer, Benjamin Franklin invented the wooden swim fins in 1717, consisting of 10-inch long and 6-inch wide palettes for either the hands or the feet. [5]

1731 Sextant

The sextant

A sextant is an instrument which measures the angle of an object above the horizon. The angle, and the time when it was measured, can be used to calculate a position line on a chart. It was invented 1731 by Rayan erise, a glazier in Philadelphia.[6] In England, John Hadley had independently begun work on a similar version of the sextant.

1742 Franklin stove

The Franklin Stove, also known as the circulating stove, invented by Benjamin Franklin, is a metal-lined fireplace with baffles in the rear to improve the airflow, providing more heat and less smoke than an ordinary open fireplace.[7] The stove became very popular throughout the American colonies and gradually replaced open fireplaces.

1744 Mail order

Mail order uses the postal system for soliciting and delivering goods. According to The National Mail Order Association, Benjamin Franklin invented and conceptualized retail and mail order cataloging in 1744. [8]

1749 Lightning rod

A lightning rod is one component in a lightning protection system. In addition to rods placed at regular intervals on the highest portions of a structure, a lightning protection system typically includes a rooftop network of conductors, multiple conductive paths from the roof to the ground, bonding connections to metallic objects within the structure and a grounding network. Individual lightning rods are sometimes called finials, air terminals or strike termination devices. The pointed lightning rod conductor, also called a "lightning attractor" or "Franklin rod," was invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1749 as part of his groundbreaking explorations of electricity. [9]

1761 Armonica[list membership disputed]

  • Benjamin Franklin invented an arrangement of glasses in 1761 after seeing water-filled wine glasses played by Edmund Delaval in Cambridge, England.[10] Franklin, who called his invention the "armonica" after the Italian word for harmony, worked with London glassblower Charles James to build one, and it had its world première in early 1762, played by Marianne Davies. In this version, 37 bowls were mounted horizontally nested on an iron spindle. The whole spindle turned by means of a foot-operated treadle. The sound was produced by touching the rims of the bowls with moistened fingers. Rims were painted different colors according to the pitch of the note.

Independence and Manifest Destiny (1776–1861)

1782 Flatboat

  • A flatboat is a rectangular boat with a flat bottom and square ends generally used for freight and passengers on inland waterways. After serving through the American War of Independence in the Pennsylvania line, Jacob Yoder built a large boat at Fort Red Stone, on the Monongahela River, which he freighted with flour and carried to New Orleans in May, 1782. This was the first attempt to navigate the Ohio and Mississippi rivers for commercial purposes.

1784 Bifocals

  • Bifocals are eyeglasses whose corrective lenses contain regions with two distinct optical powers. Benjamin Franklin is credited with the creation of the first pair of bifocals in the early 1760s, though the first indication of his double spectacles comes from a political cartoon printed in 1764. Many publications from that period refer to Dr. Franklin's double spectacles, including his first reference to them in a letter dated August 21, 1784. [11]

1784 Automatic flour mill

  • Classical mill designs were generally powered by water or air. In water-powered mills, a sluice gate opens a channel and starts the water flowing and a water wheel turning. American inventor Oliver Evans revolutionized this labor-intensive process by building the first fully automatic mill near Philadelphia. [12]

1785 Artificial diffraction grating

  • In optics, a diffraction grating is an optical component with a regular pattern, which diffracts light into several beams. The first man-made diffraction grating was made around 1785 in Philadelphia by David Rittenhouse who strung 50 hairs between two finely threaded screws with an approximate spacing of about 100 lines per inch. [13]

1786 Ocean current mapping

Benjamin Franklin's map of the Gulf Stream

The Gulf Stream, and the North Atlantic Drift, is a powerful, warm, and swift Atlantic ocean current originating in the Gulf of Mexico, exiting through the Strait of Florida, and following the eastern coastlines of the United States and Newfoundland before crossing the Atlantic Ocean. In 1786, Benjamin Franklin studied and measured ocean depths and wind speed in order to come up with the first, accurate concept drawings of the phenomenon of navigating ocean currents which is still used today in shipping lanes and routes. [14]

1792 Cracker

A cracker is a type of biscuit that developed from military hardtack and nautical ship biscuits. Now crackers are usually eaten with soup, or topped with cheese, caviar, or other delicacies. The holes in crackers are called "docking" holes as a means to stop air pockets from forming in the cracker while baking. Crackers trace their origin to the year 1792 when John Pearson of Newburyport, Massachusetts invented a cracker-like bread product from just flour and water that he called "pilot bread." An immediate success with sailors because of its shelf life, it also became distinctly known as a hardtack or sea biscuit for long voyages away from home while at sea. [15]

1794 Cotton gin

  • The cotton gin quickly and easily separates the cotton fibers from the seedpods and the sometimes sticky seeds, a job previously done by hand. These seeds are either used again to grow more cotton or, if badly damaged, are disposed of. It uses a combination of a wire screen and small wire hooks to pull the cotton through the screen, while brushes continuously remove the loose cotton lint to prevent jams. Eli Whitney and his invention made possible a revolution in the cotton industry and the rise of "King Cotton" as the main cash crop in the South.[16] However, it never made him rich. Instead of buying his machine, farmers built inferior versions of their own which led to the increasing need for slave labor from Africa.

1795 Wheel cypher

Jefferson's disk

The Jefferson disk, or wheel cypher, is a cipher system for encrypting messages and used as a deterrent for codebreaking. Using 26 wheels, each with the letters of the alphabet arranged randomly around them, Thomas Jefferson invented the wheel cypher in 1795. [17]

1796 Rumford fireplace[list membership disputed]

The Rumford fireplace created a sensation in 1796 when Benjamin Thompson Rumford introduced the idea of restricting the chimney opening to increase the updraught. Rumford fireplaces were common from 1796, when Benjamin Rumford first wrote about them, until about 1850. Thomas Jefferson had them built at Monticello, and Henry David Thoreau listed them among the modern conveniences that everyone took for granted.[18] Rumford and his workers changed fireplaces by inserting bricks into the hearth to make the side walls angled and added a choke to the chimney to increase the speed of air going up the flue. It produced a streamlined air flow, reducing turbulence so the smoke would go up into the chimney rather than choking the residents. Rumford fireplaces are appreciated for their tall classic elegance and heating efficiency. This simple alteration in the design of fireplaces was copied everywhere in an age when fires were the principal source of heat. The Rumford fireplace is still used in the 21st century.

1804 Burr Truss

  • The Burr Arch Truss, Burr Truss, or the Burr Arch, is a combination of an arch and a multiple kingpost truss design typically implemented in the construction of covered bridges. The design principle behind the Burr arch truss was that the arch should be capable of holding the entire load on the bridge while the truss was used to keep the bridge rigid. In 1804, American architect Theodore Burr, a cousin of then Vice President of the United States, Aaron Burr, designed and built the first Burr Truss on a bridge over the Hudson River in Watertown, New York. [19]

1805 Self-propelled amphibious vehicle

The Oruktor Amphibolos

An amphibious vehicle is one which can be used on land or water. Oliver Evan's "Orukter Amphibolos" dredged the waters near the Philadelphia docks. Its steam-powered engine drove either wooden wheels or a paddle wheel used as a means of transport, on land and on water. Evans demonstrated his machine in Philadelphia's Center Square in 1805, built on commission from the Philadelphia Board of Health.[20] Evans’s steam engine differed fundamentally from earlier models, building a steam engine for his amphibious vehicle that operated at high pressure, 25 or 30 pounds. Many years later, Evans' invention would be sold off for parts. On July 16, 2005, Philadelphia celebrated the 200th anniversary of Oliver Evans’s Orukter Amphibolos. Many historians describe Oliver Evans' invention as the United States' first land and water transporter. [21]

1805 Refrigeration

Schematic of Gorrie's 1841 ice machine

The American inventor Oliver Evans, acclaimed as the "father of refrigeration," designed the vaporized refrigeration machine in 1805.[22] However, Jacob Perkins modified Evans' original design, building the world's first refrigerator in 1834 and filing the first legal patent for refrigeration using vapor compression.[23] John Gorrie, an American doctor from Florida, invented the first mechanical refrigeration unit in 1841, based on Evans' original invention to make ice in order to cool the air for yellow fever patients. Gorrie's mechanical refrigeration unit was issued a patent in 1855.[24] In 1913, refrigerators for home and domestic use were invented by Fred W. Wolf of Fort Wayne, Indiana with models consisting of a unit that was mounted on top of an ice box.[25] A self-contained refrigerator, with a compressor on the bottom of the cabinet, was invented by Alfred Mellowes in 1916. Mellowes produced this refrigerator commercially but was bought out by William C. Durant in 1918, who started the Frigidaire Company in order to begin the first mass-production of refrigerators. [26]

1806 Filtered coffee pot

A coffee pot is a cooking pot in the kettle family. A coffee pot is also a container to hold freshly brewed coffee. Benjamin Thompson Rumford invented a percolating coffee pot with a metal sieve to strain away the grounds. [27]

1813 Circular saw

The circular saw is a metal disc or blade with saw teeth on the edge as well as the machine that causes the disk to spin. It may cut wood or other materials and may be hand-held or table-mounted. Tabitha Babbitt is credited with inventing the first circular saw used in a saw mill in 1813. [28]

1815 Dental floss[list membership disputed]

  • Dental floss is either a bundle of thin nylon filaments or a plastic ribbon used to remove food and dental plaque from teeth. Levi Spear Parmly, a dentist from New Orleans, is credited with inventing the first form of dental floss. He had been recommending that people should clean their teeth with silk floss since 1815. [29]

1818 Profile lathe

  • A lathe is an adjustable horizontal metal rail and a tool rest, between the material and the operator which accommodates the positioning of shaping tools. With wood, it is common practice to press and slide sandpaper against the still-spinning object after shaping to smooth the surface made with the metal shaping tools. As the first of its kind, Thomas Blanchard of Middlebury, Connecticut, invented the profile lathe, intended for the mass duplication of woodworking. [30]

1818 Milling machine

  • A milling machine is a machine tool used for the shaping of metal and other solid materials. In contrast to drilling, where the drill is moved exclusively along its axis, the milling operation uses movement of the rotating cutter sideways as well as 'in and out'. Simeon North is credited with the invention of the milling machine,[31] the first entirely new type of machine invented in America and the machine that, by replacing filing, made interchangeable parts practical.

1827 Detachable collar[list membership disputed]

  • A detachable collar is a collar separate to the shirt, fastened to it shirt by studs. Hannah Lord Montague invented the detachable collar in Troy, New York in 1827, after she snipped the collar off one of her husband's shirts to wash it, and then sewed it back on. [32]

1830 Platform scale

  • Also the Fairbanks Scale, the platform scale is a benched scale for measuring the counter-balance weight of loaded objects at ground level, thus eliminating the use of a hoist. After a series of trial and error in his designs, Thaddeus Fairbanks patented his invention in 1830. E & T Fairbanks & Company, a business partnership between Thaddeus and his brother, Erastus Fairbanks, exported their famous scales sround the world to exotic locations such as England, China, Cuba, Russia, and India due to the high demand. [33]

1831 Electric doorbell

  • A doorbell is a signaling device commonly found near a door. It commonly emits a ringing sound to alert the occupant of the building to a visitor's presence. The electric doorbell was invented by Joseph Henry in 1831. [34]

1831 Reaping machine

  • A reaper is a person or machine that reaps crops when they are ripe. The invention developed by Cyrus McCormick [35] which cut grain much faster than a man with a scythe, failed to catch on. After taking his operation to Chicago, McCormick prospered. By 1871 his company was selling 10,000 reapers per year.

1831 Electric telegraph

An early Morse telegraph

The electromagnetic telegraph is a device that can send coded text messages over wire. In 1831, an American scientist, Joseph Henry, made an important discovery in electric induction which became the established underlying principles of the electric telegraph.[36] Joseph Henry strung a mile of fine wire, placed an "intensity" battery at one end, and made the armature strike a bell at the other. This was the first discovery of the fact that a galvanic current could be transmitted to a great distance with so little a diminution of force as to produce mechanical effects, and of the means by which the underlying principle of transmission could be accomplished. In 1836, Dr. David Alter invented the world's first practical electric telegraph,[37] in Elderton, Pennsylvania, one year before the more popular Wheatstone and Morse telegraphs were invented. Alter demonstrated it to witnesses. Samuel F. B. Morse independently conceived the idea of electrical telegraphy beginning in 1832 when in 1835, an experimental electrical telegraph would soon follow. By October 3, 1837, an alternative design by Morse that he later filed a patent caveat for, was fully capable of transmitting over long distances of wire.[38] An electrical telegraph came to refer to a signaling telegram, where an operator makes and breaks an electrical contact with a telegraph key, resulting in an audible signal at the other end produced by a telegraph sounder which is interpreted and transcribed by an operator. Beginning in 1832, Alfred Vail in collaboration with Samuel Morse, began the process of developing the Morse code signalling alphabet.[39] The short and long elements can be formed by sounds, marks, or pulses, in on off keying and are commonly known as "dots" and "dashes" or "dits" and "dahs". After some minor changes and exactly 134 years of use, Morse Code was standardized in 1865 at the International Telegraphy congress in Paris and later made the norm by the International Telecommunication Union as International Morse code. On January 31, 1999, international regulations no longer required ships at sea to call for help in an emergency using Morse code and the well-known SOS signal. [40]

1832 National park

A national park is a reserve of land, generally owned by a national government, protected from most human development. The first effort by any government to set aside such protected lands was in the United States, on April 20, 1832, when President Andrew Jackson signed legislation to set aside four sections of land around what is now Hot Springs, Arkansas to protect the natural, thermal springs and adjoining mountainsides for the future disposal of the federal government, the Hot Springs Reservation. When news of the natural wonders found in the Wyoming Territory were first promulgated, part of this land became federally governed and protected. In 1872, Yellowstone National Park was established as the world's first national park. [41]

1833 Lock-stitch sewing machine

  • Walter Hunt invented the first lock-stitch sewing machine in 1833.[42] He lost interest and did not patent his invention. In 1846, Elias Howe secured a patent on an original lock-stitch machine, and failed to manufacture and market it. Isaac Singer infringed on Howe's patent to make his own machine, making him wealthy. Elias Howe filed a lawsuit, alleging patent infringement. On July 1, 1854, a federal commission ruled in favor of Howe, ordering Isaac Singer as well as all sewing machine makers to pay Elias Howe royalties.[43] Most modern sewing machines use the lockstitch technique of sewing invented by Walter Hunt, which consists of two threads, an upper and a lower. The upper thread runs from a spool kept on a spindle on top of or next to the machine, through a tension mechanism, a take-up arm, and finally through the hole in the needle. The lower thread is wound onto a bobbin, which is inserted into a case in the lower section of the machine.

1834 Threshing machine

  • John Avery and Hiram Abial Pitts invent significant improvements to a machine that automatically threshes and separates grain from chaff, freeing farmers from a slow and laborious process. They were granted a patent on December 29, 1837. [44]

1835 Wrench

  • The wrench or spanner is a tool used to provide a mechanical advantage in applying torque to turn bolts, nuts or other items designed to interface with a wrench. The first wrench was invented and patented in 1835 by Solymon Merrick. [45]

1835 Relay

  • A relay is an electrical switch that opens and closes under the control of another electrical circuit. In the original form, the switch is operated by an electromagnet to open or close one or many sets of contacts. The relay was invented by the renowned American scientist, Joseph Henry in 1835. [46]

1836 Revolver


A revolver is a repeating firearm with multiple chambers and at least one barrel for firing. As the user cocks the hammer, the cylinder revolves to align the next round with the barrel, which gives this type of firearm its name. In 1836, Samuel Colt invented the world's first practical revolving firearm.[47] According to Samuel Colt, he came up with the idea for the revolver while at sea, inspired by the capstan winch, which had a ratchet and pawl mechanism on it, a version of which was used in his guns to rotate the cylinder.

1837 Self-polishing cast steel plow

The plow is a tool used in farming for initial cultivation of soil in preparation for sowing seed or planting. It has been a basic instrument for most of recorded history, and represents one of the major advances in agriculture. In modern use, a ploughed field is typically left to dry out, and is harrowed before planting. An American agricultural pioneer named John Deere modernized the plow by shaping steel from an old sawmill blade and joining it to a wrought iron moldboard. Deere polished both parts smooth so the damp soil would no longer stick. After patenting the device in 1837, it became an instant success and a necessity on American farms. [48]

1838 Combine harvester

A John Deere combine harvesting corn

The combine harvester, or combine, or thresher, is a machine that combines the tasks of harvesting, threshing, and cleaning grain crops. The objective is to complete these three processes, which used to be distinct, in one pass of the machine over a particular part of the field. The waste straw left behind on the field is the remaining dried stems and leaves of the crop with limited nutrients which is either chopped and spread on the field or baled for feed and bedding for livestock. The first combine was invented by Hiram Moore in 1838. [49]

1839 Sleeping car[list membership disputed]

The sleeping car or sleeper is a railroad passenger car that can accommodate passengers in beds, primarily to make nighttime travel more restful. The first such cars saw sporadic use on American railroads in the 1830s and could be configured for coach seating during the day. The pioneer of this new mode of traveling transcontinental was the Cumberland Valley Railroad which introduced service of the first sleeping car in the spring of 1939. The sleeping car did not become commercially practical until 1857 when George Pullman invented the Pullman sleeping car. [50]

1842 Ether anesthesia

  • Crawford Long, of Jefferson, Georgia, performs the first operation using an ether-based anesthesia, when he removes a tumor from the neck of Mr. James Venable. Long will not reveal his discovery until 1849. [51]

1842 Grain elevator

  • Grain elevators are buildings or complexes of buildings for storage and shipment of grain. They were invented in 1842 in Buffalo, New York, by Joseph Dart, who first developed a steam-powered mechanism, called a marine leg, for scooping grain out of the hulls of ships directly into storage silos. [52]

1843 Multiple-effect evaporator[list membership disputed]

  • A multiple-effect evaporator, as defined in chemical engineering, is an apparatus for efficiently using the heat from steam to evaporate water. In 1843, Norbert Rillieux invented and patented the multiple-effect evaporator where its first installation and use was in a Louisiana sugar factory. [53]

1843 Rotary printing press

  • A rotary printing press is a printing press in which the images to be printed are curved around a cylinder. Richard Hoe created a revolution in printing by rolling a cylinder over stationary plates of inked type and using the cylinder to make an impression on paper.[54] This eliminated the need for making impressions directly from the type plates themselves, which were heavy and difficult to maneuver.

1844 Vulcanized rubber

  • Vulcanization refers to a specific curing process of rubber involving high heat and the addition of sulfur or other equivalent curatives. It is a chemical process in which polymer molecules are linked to other polymer molecules by atomic bridges composed of sulfur atoms or carbon to carbon bonds. A vast array of products are made with vulcanized rubber including ice hockey pucks, tires, shoe soles, horses and many more.Charles Goodyear invented vulcanized rubber in 1844. [55]

1845 Maynard tape primer

  • The Maynard tape primer was a system designed to allow for more rapid reloading of muskets which previously relied on small copped caps that were filled with mercury fulminate. Dr. Edward Maynard, a dentist with an interest in firearms, embedded tiny pellets of priming material in thin strips of paper, then glued a second strip of paper on top of the first, creating a "tape" of primer. The tape could be manufactured quickly and cheaply, since paper was much less expensive than copper. In 1845, Edward Maynard patented his new firearm invention which in later years, would be widely used in the American Civil War. [56]

1845 Baseball[list membership disputed]

A sketch of an early baseball game played at Elysian Fields, Hoboken, New Jersey

As the United States' national sport and pastime, baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. Some attribute baseball's beginnings to the English sports of Cricket and Rounders. The bat-and-ball sports played in the United States, Europe, or elsewhere in the world prior to 1845 did not resemble the standard of modern day rules as to which baseball has continuously used since the mid-19th century. In 1845, Alexander Cartwright wrote the official and codified set of regulated rules of baseball formally known as the Knickerbocker Rules.[57] On June 3, 1953, the United States Congress unanimously credited Cartwright with inventing the modern game of baseball which led to his appointment into the Baseball Hall of Fame. [58]

1849 Safety pin

  • The safety pin is a fastening device, a variation of the regular pin which includes a simple spring mechanism and a clasp. The clasp serves two purposes: to form a closed loop thereby properly fastening the pin to whatever it is applied to, and to cover the end of the pin to protect the user from the sharp point. The safety pin was invented by Walter Hunt, and patented in April 1849.[59] The rights to the invention were sold for $400.

1849 Street sweeper

  • Street sweepers are equipped with water tanks and sprayers used to loosen particles and reduce dust. The brooms gather debris into a main collection area from which it is vacuumed and pumped into a collection bin. The first mechanical street sweeper was invented by C.S. Bishop, patented on September 4, 1849.

1850 Inverted microscope

  • An inverted microscope is a microscope with its light source and condenser on the top, above the stage pointing down, while the objectives and turret are below the stage pointing up. It was invented in 1850 by J. Lawrence Smith, a faculty member of Tulane University and the Medical College of Louisiana. [60]

1853 Potato chip

  • The original potato chip recipe was created by chef George Crum at Moon's Lake House near Saratoga Springs, New York, on August 24, 1853.[61] Fed up with a customer who continued to send his fried potatoes back complaining that they were too thick and soggy, Crum decided to slice the potatoes so thin that they couldn't be eaten with a fork. As they couldn't be fried normally in a pan, he decided to stir-fry the potato slices. Against Crum's expectation, the guest was ecstatic about the new chips and they soon became a regular item on the lodge's menu, and were known as "Saratoga chips." [62]

1853 Clothespin

  • A clothespin is a fastener with a lever action used to hang up clothes for drying, usually on a clothes line. Clothespins often come in many different designs. This design was invented by David M. Smith of Springfield, Vermont, in 1853. [63]

1854 Spectrum analysis

  • Spectrum analysis, also known as Emission Spectrochemical Analysis, is the original scientific method of charting and analyzing the chemical properties of matter and gases by looking at the bands in their optical spectrum. The empirical laws of spectrum analysis are commonly known as Kirchhoff's Three Laws of Spectroscopy. Credit for the origins of Spectrum Analysis goes to Dr. David Alter, a scientist from Freeport, Pennsylvania, who published the first scientific work that included the spectral radiance properties for twelve metals. [64]

1856 Condensed milk

  • Condensed milk is cow's milk from which water has been removed and to which sugar has been added, yielding a very thick, sweet product that can last for years without refrigeration if unopened. Gail Borden created condensed milk for soldiers during the American Civil War. [65]

1857 Elevator passenger safety system

  • An elevator or lift is a vertical transport vehicle that efficiently moves people or goods between floors of a building. Elisha Graves Otis dramatically demonstrates his passenger elevator at the Crystal Palace Exposition in New York by cutting the elevator's cables as it ascends a 300-foot (91 m) tower.[66] Otis' unique safety braking system prevents the elevator from falling.

1857 Rolled toilet paper

  • Joseph Gayetty invented the first packaged and rolled toilet paper in 1857.[67] His new toilet paper was composed of flat sheets. Before Gayetty's invention, people tore pages out of mail order catalogs. And even before catalogs were common, leaves were used. Unfortunately, Gayetty's invention failed commercially. In 1867, Thomas, Edward, and Clarence Scott were successful at marketing toilet paper that consisted of a small roll of perforated paper. They sold their new toilet paper from a push cart in what would become known as the beginning of the Scott Paper Company.

1857 Brown Truss[list membership disputed]

  • A Brown truss is a type of bridge truss, used in covered bridges. It is noted for its economical use of materials, taking the form of a box truss. There may be vertical or almost vertical tension members, but there are no vertical members in compression. In practice, when used in a covered bridge, the most common application, the truss is protected with outside sheathing. The Brown Truss was designed and patened by Josiah Brown Jr. in 1857. [68]

1858 Mason jar

  • In home canning, food is packed into the jar, and the steel lid is placed on top of the jar with the integral rubber seal resting on the rim of the jar. The band is screwed loosely over the lid, which will allow air and steam to escape. By far, though, the most popular form of seal was the screw-on zinc cap, the precursor to today's screw-on lids. The earliest glass jars were called wax sealers, because they used sealing wax, which was poured into a channel around the lip that held on a tin lid. The earliest successful application of this was discovered by John Mason and patented on November 30, 1858, a date embossed on thousands of jars for food preservation and pickling. [69]

1858 Burglar alarm

  • A burglar alarm contains sensors which are connected to a control unit via a low-voltage hardwire or narrowband RF signal which is used to interact with a response device. Edwin Holmes of Boston invented the electric burglar alarm.[70] Later, his workshop will be used by Alexander Graham Bell as the young Bell pursues his invention of the telephone. Holmes will be the first person to have a home telephone.

1858 Can opener

  • The can opener is a device used to open metal cans. Ezra Warner of Waterbury, Connecticut was an American inventor, who invented and patented his design of a can opener in 1858. Crudely shaped bayonet and sickle combo, his design was widely accepted by the United States military during the period of the American Civil War. [71]

1859 Modern oil well

A Pumpjack located south of Midland, is a common sight in west Texas

An oil well is a general term for any boring through the Earth's surface designed to find and produce petroleum oil hydrocarbons. Drilling at Titusville, Pennsylvania, "Colonel" Edwin Drake strikes oil at a depth of 69.5 feet (21.2 m). Prior to that, oil, which had been used mostly as a lubricant and lamp fuel, had been obtained only at places where it seeped from the ground. With a boom about to begin, western Pennsylvania would witness the world's first successful oil drill. [72]

1860 Modern water tower

A water tower or elevated water tower is a large elevated water storage container constructed for the purpose of holding a water supply at a height sufficient to pressurize a water distribution system. The city of Louisville, Kentucky began using the first modern water tower, to equalize pressure and to provide safe and clean drinking water. Chlorine research by the Louisville Water Company helped to virtually wipe out cases of typhoid and cholera from the water.[73] This new and innovative system of water treatment was the first major advancement since the fall of the Roman Empire.

1860 Repeating rifle

A repeating rifle is a single barreled rifle containing multiple rounds of ammunition. Benjamin Tyler Henry, chief designer for Oliver Fisher Winchester's arms company, adapted a breech-loading rifle invented by Walter Hunt and created a new lever action repeating rifle.[74] First known as the Henry, the rifle was famously known as the Winchester.

Civil War and Reconstruction (1861–1877)

1861 Postcard

  • A postcard or post card is a rectangular piece of material, such as paper, leather or other materials, intended for writing and mailing without an envelope. "Postal card" is the term used for a post card issued by a postal authority, generally with postage prepaid. The post card was invented by John P. Charlton of Philadelphia in 1861 for which he obtained the copyright later transferred to H.L. Lipman. The cards were adorned with a small border and labeled "Lipman's Postal Card, Patent Applied For." and later "COPY-RIGHT SECURED 1861." They were on the market until 1873 when the first United States issued postcards appeared. [75]

1861 Modern pin tumbler lock

  • The pin tumbler lock is a lock mechanism that uses pins of varying lengths to prevent the lock from opening without the correct key. Pin tumblers are most commonly employed in cylinder locks, but may also be found in tubular or radial locks. Linus Yale, Jr. improved upon his father's original design in 1861 by inventing a smaller flat key with serrated edges that remains as the basis of modern pin-tumbler locks.[76]

1863 Breakfast cereal[list membership disputed]

  • Breakfast cereal is a packaged food product intended to be consumed as part of a breakfast. The first breakfast cereal, Granula was invented in the United States in 1863 by James Caleb Jackson, operator of the Jackson Sanitorium in Dansville, New York and a staunch vegetarian.[77] The cereal never became popular; it was inconvenient, as the heavy bran nuggets needed soaking overnight before they were tender enough to eat.

1863 Four-wheeled roller skates

  • Roller skates are devices worn on the feet to enable the wearer to roll on wheels.James Leonard Plimpton of Medford, Massachusetts, gives the world the first practical four-wheeled roller skate.[78] This sets off a roller craze that quickly spreads across the U.S. and Europe.

1864 Spar torpedo

The Confederate torpedo boat C.S.S. David showing the spar torpedo mounted to the bow

The spar torpedo consists of a bomb placed at the end of a long pole, or spar, and attached to a boat. The weapon is used by running the end of the spar into the enemy ship. Spar torpedoes were often equipped with a barbed spear at the end, so it would stick to wooden hulls. A fuse could then be used to detonate it. The spar torpedo was invented in 1864 during the American Civil War by E. C. Singer,[79] a private engineer who worked on secret projects for the benefit of the Confederate States of America.

1865 Web rotary printing press

William Bullock invented a printing press that could feed paper on a continuous roll and print both sides of the paper at once. Used first by the Philadelphia Ledger, the machine would become an American standard. It would also kill its maker, who died when he accidentally fell into one of his presses. [80]

1866 Urinal

The urinal is a specialized toilet for urinating only, generally by men and boys. It has the form of a container or simply a wall, with drainage and automatic or manual flushing. The urinal was first introduced by Andrew Rankin on March 27, 1866. [81]

1866 Chuckwagon

  • The chuckwagon is a wagon that carried food and cooking equipment on the prairies of the United States and Canada. They were part of a wagon train of settlers or feed nomadic workers like cowboys or loggers. While mobile kitchens had existed for generations, the invention of the chuckwagon is attributed to Texan rancher Charles Goodnight who introduced the concept in 1866. [82]

1867 Motorcycle

The motorcycle

The motorcycle is a single-track, two-wheeled motor vehicle powered by an engine. The earliest motorcycle was a coal-powered, two-cylinder, steam-driven motorcycle invented in 1867 by Sylvester Howard Roper. [83]

1867 Paper clip[list membership disputed]

The paper clip attaches sheets of paper together, allowing them to be detached as necessary. The first patent for a paper fastener was awarded to Samuel B. Fay of the United States in 1867. [84]

1867 Barbed wire

Barbed wire is a type of fencing wire constructed with sharp edges or points arranged at intervals along the strands. Farmer Henry Rose, invented the product that closed down the open cattle ranges by closing in cattle onto individual plots of privately owned land.[85] I.L. Ellwood and Company's Glidden Steel Barb Wire dominated the market for barbed wire for much of the later 19th century as the open range became a distant memory.

1867 Water-tube boiler

  • A water-tube boiler is a type of boiler in which water circulates in tubes heated externally by the fire. Water-tube boilers are used for high-pressure boilers. Fuel is burned inside the furnace, creating hot gas which heats up water in the steam-generating tubes. The water-tube boiler was co-invented and co-patented by George Herman Babcock and Stephen Wilcox in 1867. [86]

1868 Tape measure

  • A tape measure or measuring tape is a flexible form of ruler. It consists of a ribbon of cloth, plastic, fiber glass, or metal strip with linear-measurement markings. The design on which most modern spring tape measures are built was patented by a New Haven, Connecticut resident called Alvin J. Fellows on July 14, 1868. [87]

1868 Vacuum cleaner

  • A vacuum cleaner uses a partial vacuum to suck up dust and dirt, usually from floors. The first manually-powered cleaner using vacuum principles was the "Whirlwind", invented in Chicago in 1868 by Ives W. McGaffney. [88]

1868 Paper bag

  • A bag is a non-rigid or semi-rigid container usually made of paper which is used to hold items or packages. In 1868, Margaret E. Knight while living in Springfield, Massachusetts invented a machine that folded and glued paper to form the brown paper bags familiar to what shoppers know today. [89]

1869 Pipe wrench

  • The pipe wrench, or Stillson wrench, is an adjustable wrench used for turning soft iron pipes and fittings with a rounded surface. The design of the adjustable jaw allows it to rock in the frame, such that any forward pressure on the handle tends to pull the jaws tighter together. Teeth angled in the direction of turn dig into the soft pipe. The pipe wrench was invented by Daniel C. Stillson who received a patent on October 12, 1869. [90]

1869 Clothes hanger

  • A clothes hanger, or coat hanger, is a device in the shape of human shoulders designed to facilitate the hanging of a coat, jacket, sweater, shirt, blouse or dress in a manner that prevents wrinkles, with a lower bar for the hanging of trousers or skirts. The shoulder-shaped wire hanger, was inspired by a coat hook invented in 1869 by O. A. North of New Britain, Connecticut. [91]

1869 Fire hydrant

  • A fire hydrant is an active fire protection measure, and a source of water provided in most urban, suburban and rural areas with municipal water service to enable firefighters to tap into the municipal water supply to assist in extinguishing a fire. A number of early designs of fire hydrants were produced and marketed. Numerous wooden cased fire hydrant designs existed prior to the development of the familiar cast iron hydrant. And although the development of the first above ground hydrant traces back to Philadelphia in 1803, Birdsill Holly's 1869 invention was commercially decisive and patented. [92]

1870 Sandblasting

  • Sandblasting or bead blasting is a generic term for the process of smoothing, shaping, and cleaning a hard surface by forcing solid particles across that surface at high speeds. Sandblasting equipment typically consists of a chamber in which sand and air are mixed. The mixture travels through a hand-held nozzle to direct the particles toward the surface or workpiece. Nozzles come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. Boron carbide is a popular material for nozzles because it resists abrasive wear well. In 1870, the sandblasting process was invented and patented by Benjamin Chew Tilghman. [93]

1870 Mixer

  • A hand mixer is a hand-held mixing device for whipping, beating, and folding food ingredients. It typically consists of a handle mounted over a large enclosure containing the motor, which drives one or two beaters. The beaters are immersed in the food to be mixed. In 1870, Sir Walter Scott of Providence, Rhode Island, invented the first hand-cranked egg beater. The first electric mixer was invented by Herbert Johnston in 1908 and sold by the KitchenAid division of the Hobart Manufacturing Company. [94]

1872 Cream cheese[list membership disputed]

  • Cream cheese is a sweet, soft, mild-tasting, white cheese which is not naturally matured and is meant to be consumed fresh. In 1872, cream cheese was invented by American dairyman William Lawrence of Chester, New York, selling it in foiled wrapping. From the 1880s and onwards, Lawrence's cream cheese was distributed under his company's name, Philadelphia Cream Cheese. [95]

1872 Diner

  • A diner is a restaurant characterized by a wide range of foods, a casual and often nostalgic atmosphere, a counter, and late operating hours. The precursor to the fast food eatery began in 1872 when Walter Scott, a myopic pressman for the Providence Journal, became serious about selling food and refreshments in the streets. Scott had a plan: instead of wearing out the soles of his shoes and roaming the streets of Providence, Rhode Island, he decided to buy a horse drawn delivery van. Rolling on four wagon wheels, he would take his food to the people. [96]

1872 Railway air brake[list membership disputed]

Control handle and valve for a Westinghouse air brake

George Westinghouse was an American entrepreneur and engineer who invented the railroad air brake and was a pioneer of the electrical industry.[97] This conveyance braking system applies the means of compressed air which modern locomotives use to this day.

1873 Jeans

Jeans are trousers generally made from denim. They became popular among teenagers starting in the 1950s which remain as a distinct icon of American culture. In 1873, Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis invented and patented the idea of using copper rivets at the stress points of sturdy work pants. After one of Davis's customers kept purchasing cloth to reinforce torn pants, he had an idea to use copper rivets to reinforce the points of strain, such as on the pocket corners and at the top of the button fly. Davis did not have the required money to purchase a patent, so he wrote to Strauss suggesting that they both go into business together. Early Levis, called "waist overalls," came in a brown canvas duck fabric and a heavy blue denim fabric. His business became extremely successful, revolutionizing the apparel industry. [98]

1873 Earmuffs[list membership disputed]

Earmuffs cover a person's ears for thermal protection. They consist of a thermoplastic or metal head-band, that fits over the top of the head, and a pad at each end, to cover the external ears. Earmuffs were invented by Chester Greenwood in 1873. [99]

1874 Fire sprinkler

  • A fire sprinkler is the part of a fire sprinkler system that discharges water when the effects of a fire have been detected, such as when a predetermined temperature has been reached. Henry S. Parmelee of New Haven, Connecticut created and installed the first closed head fire sprinkler in 1874. [100]


  • QWERTY is the most used modern-day keyboard layout on English-language computer and typewriter keyboards. It takes its name from the first six characters seen in the far left of the keyboard's top row of letters. The QWERTY design was invented and patented by Christopher Sholes. [101]

1875 Electric dental drill

  • A dental drill is a small, high-speed drill used in dentistry to remove decayed tooth material prior to the insertion of a dental filling. George F. Green of Kalamazoo, Michigan invented an electric powered device to drill teeth. [102]

1875 Mimeograph

  • The stencil duplicator or mimeograph machine is a low-cost printing press that works by forcing ink through a stencil onto paper. Once prepared, the stencil is wrapped around the ink-filled drum of the rotary machine. When a blank sheet of paper is drawn between the rotating drum and a pressure roller, ink is forced through the holes on the stencil onto the paper. Thomas Alva Edison invented the mimeograph in 1875. [103]

1876 Synthesizer

The first electric synthesizer was invented in 1876 by Elisha Gray.[104] Gray accidentally discovered that he could control sound from a self vibrating electromagnetic circuit and in doing so invented a basic single note oscillator. The Musical Telegraph used steel reeds whose oscillations were created and transmitted, over a telephone line, by electromagnets. Gray also built a simple loudspeaker device in later models consisting of a vibrating diaphragm in a magnetic field to make the oscillator audible.

1876 Airbrush

An airbrush is a small, air-operated tool that sprays various media including ink and dye, but most often paint by a process of nebulization. Spray guns developed from the airbrush and are still considered a type of airbrush. The first airbrush was invented in 1876 by Francis Edgar Stanley of Newton, Massachusetts. [105]

1876 Tattoo machine

  • A tattoo machine is a hand-held device generally used to create a tattoo, a permanent marking of the skin with ink. The basic machine, which he called Stencil-Pens, was invented by Thomas Alva Edison and patented in the United States in 1876. It was originally intended to be used as an engraving device, but in 1891 Sean Casey discovered that Edison's machine could be modified and used to introduce ink into the skin, and later patented a tube and needle system to provide an ink reservoir. [106]

1876 Chemical thermodynamics

  • Chemical thermodynamics is the study of the interrelation of heat and work with chemical reactions or with physical changes of state within the confines of the laws of thermodynamics. Building upon the work of Rudolf Clausius, between the years 1873 and 1876, J. Willard Gibbs published a series of three papers, the most famous one being the paper On the Equilibrium of Heterogeneous Substances. In these papers, Gibbs showed how the first two laws of thermodynamics could be measured graphically and mathematically to determine both the thermodynamic equilibrium of chemical reactions as well as their tendencies to occur or proceed. As result, the foundations for chemical thermodynamics were laid. [107]

Industrialization, Immigration, and the Gilded Age (1877–1918)

1877 Phonograph

Thomas Edison's talking machine

The talking machine is generally known as a phonograph or gramophone. Thomas Alva Edison conceived the principle of recording and reproducing sound between May and July 1877 as a byproduct of his efforts to "play back" recorded telegraph messages and to automate speech sounds for transmission by telephone. He announced his invention of the first phonograph on November 21, 1877, and he demonstrated the device for the first time on November 29, 1877. [108]

1877 District heating[list membership disputed]

District heating distributes heat generated in a centralized location for residential and commercial heating requirements. The U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis began steam district heating service in 1853. The first commercially successful district heating system was launched in Lockport, New York, in 1877 by American hydraulic engineer Birdsill Holly, considered the founder of modern district heating. [109]

1878 Bolometer[list membership disputed]

A bolometer measures the energy of incident electromagnetic radiation. It was invented in 1878 by American astronomer Samuel Pierpont Langley. [110]

1878 Carbon microphone

  • The carbon microphone is a sound-to-electrical signal transducer consisting of two metal plates separated by granules of carbon. When sound waves strike this plate, the pressure on the granules changes, which in turn changes the electrical resistance between the plates. A direct current is passed from one plate to the other, and the changing resistance results in a changing current, which can be passed through a telephone system, or used in other ways in electronics systems to change the sound into an electrical signal. After a lengthy court battle over patent rights filed in 1877, a United States federal court as well as a British court in 1878 ruled in favor of Thomas Alva Edison over a claim held by Emile Berliner since Edison indisputably preceded Berliner in inventing the transmission of speech as well as the use of carbon in a transmitter. [111]

1878 Refrigerator car

  • A refrigerator car or "reefer" is a refrigerated boxcar, designed to carry perishable freight at specific temperatures. Refrigerator cars differ from simple insulated boxcars and ventilated boxcars, neither of which are fitted with cooling apparatus. They can be ice-cooled, or use one of a variety of mechanical refrigeration systems, or utilize carbon dioxide as a cooling agent. In the 1860s, slaughtered cattle from the Great Plains were preserved in barrels of salt. Regular box cars were loaded with ice in another effort to preserve fresh meat that had limited success. In 1878, Gustavus Swift hired Andrew Chase to design the first practical ventillated rail box car that was well insulated to permit a special ice compartment at the top to push cold air down and send warm air out. The refrigerator car revolutionized the meat packing industry which enabled a large scale and efficient industry. [112]

1879 Cash register

A vintage cash register

The cash register is a device for calculating and recording sales transactions. The mechanical cash register was invented and patented in 1879 by James Ritty.[113] Ritty was an American tavern keeper in Dayton, Ohio. He nicknamed his cash register the "Incorruptible Cashier," and started the National Manufacturing Company to sell them. When a transaction was completed, a bell rang on the cash register and the amount was noted on a large dial on the front of the machine. During each sale, a paper tape was punched with holes so that the merchant could keep track of sales. John H. Patterson bought Ritty's patent and his cash register company in 1884. Patterson renamed the Dayton, Ohio, company the National Cash Register Company. Patterson improved Ritty's cash register by adding a paper tape that kept a printed record of all transactions.

1880 Trolley pole

A trolley pole is a tapered cylindrical pole of wood or metal placed in contact with an overhead wire to provide electricity to the trolley car. The trolley pole sits atop a sprung base on the roof of the trolley vehicle, the springs maintaining the tension to keep the trolley wheel or shoe in contact with the wire. This invention created by Frank J. Sprague used overhead wire in a seamless system of electric current collection. [114]

1881 Machine gun

An early Maxim gun in operation with the British Royal Navy

The machine gun is a fully automatic firearm, usually designed to fire rifle cartridges in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine. The first true machine gun was invented in 1881 by the American inventor Hiram Stevens Maxim.[115] The Maxim gun used the first recoil power of the previously fired bullet to reload rather than being hand powered, enabling a much higher rate of fire than was possible using earlier designs by Richard Gatling. Maxim's other great innovation was the use of water cooling to reduce overheating. Maxim's gun was widely adopted and derivative designs were used on all sides during the First World War.

1881 Electric chair

Execution by electrocution is an execution method which the person being put to death is strapped to a specially built wooden chair and electrocuted through electrodes placed on the body. In 1881, Alfred Southwick witnessed an intoxicated man touch a live electric generator. After the man died quickly, Dr. Southwick concluded that electricity could be used as an alternative to hanging for executions. Southwick was a dentist who was accustomed to performing procedures on subjects in chairs, and so he designed an "electric chair." The first electric chair was made by Harold P. Brown and the first person to be executed via the electric chair was William Kemmler in New York's Auburn Prison on August 6, 1890. [116]

1881 Metal detector

  • Metal detectors use electromagnetic induction to detect metal. In 1881, the Scots-American named Alexander Graham Bell invented the first metal detector as President James Garfield lay dying from a fatal gunshot wound. Despite an effort to locate the lodged bullet, Bell's invention proved to be unsuccessful as the metal detector was confused by the metal-framed bed which the assassinated president laid on. [117]

1882 Electric Christmas lights[list membership disputed]

  • The first known electrically illuminated Christmas tree was the creation of Edward H. Johnson, an associate of inventor Thomas Edison. While he was vice-president of the Edison Electric Light Company, a predecessor of today's Consolidated Edison electric utility, Johnson devised incandescent light bulbs the size of walnuts strung on a continuous electrical wire. Johnson displayed his Christmas tree on December 22, 1882 at his home on Fifth Avenue in New York City. [118]

1882 Electric fan

  • A mechanical fan produces an airflow for the purpose of creature comfort (particularly in the heat), ventilation, exhaust, or any other gaseous transport. Schuyler Skaats Wheeler invented the electric fan. [119]

1882 Electric iron

  • An iron is a small appliance used to remove wrinkles from fabric. The electric iron was invented in 1882 by Henry Seely White, a New York inventor Seeley patented his "electric flatiron" on June 6, 1882.[120] His iron weighed almost 15 pounds and took a long time to warm up.

1884 Fountain pen

  • A fountain pen is a pen that contains a reservoir of water-based liquid ink. From the reservoir or the ink cartridge, the ink is drawn through a feed to the nib and then to the paper using a combination of gravity and capillary action, so most fountain pens require no pressure to write. Lewis Waterman invented and patented the first practical fountain pen with a complete capillary action in 1884. [121]

1885 Fuel dispenser

A vintage service pump located in Mount Olive, Illinois

A fuel dispenser is used to pump gasoline, diesel, or other types of fuel into vehicles or containers. Sylvanus F. Bowser of Fort Wayne, Indiana invented the gasoline/petrol pump on September 5, 1885.[122] As the automobile was not invented yet, the gas pump was used for kerosene lamps and stoves. The term bowser is still often used in countries such as Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.

1885 Photographic film

Photographic film is a sheet of material coated with a photosensitive emulsion. When the emulsion is sufficiently exposed to light or other forms of electromagnetic radiation such as X-rays and is developed it forms an image. George Eastman and his company, Eastman Kodak, developed the first flexible photographic film as well as the invention of roll film in 1885.[123] This original "film" used a paper carrier. The first transparent plastic film was produced in 1889. Before this, glass photographic plates were used, which were far more expensive and cumbersome, although of better quality due to their size. Early film was made from flammable nitrocellulose with camphor as a plasticizer.

1885 Skyscraper

The Woolworth Building under construction

A skyscraper is a tall building, frequently using a steel-frame construction. After the Great Fire of 1871, Chicago had become a magnet for daring experiments in architecture as one of those was the birth of the skyscraper. William Le Baron Jenney completed the 10-story Home Insurance Company Building in 1885, the first to use a steel-frame construction.[124] More than twenty skyscrapers would be built in Chicago over the next 9 years.

1886 Coca-Cola[list membership disputed]

Coca-Cola is a carbonated soft drink sold in stores, restaurants and vending machines worldwide. John Stith Pemberton was an American pharmacist, soldier, and inventor. He concocted Coca-Cola on May 8, 1886 in Atlanta, Georgia.[125] He had developed many syrups, medicines, and elixirs before, including a popular drink called French Wine of Coca, which contained French Bordeaux wine, coca leaves, and caffeine. Coca-Cola originally included trace amounts of powder cocaine, which gave it its name. During 1886, Coca Cola's first year, sales averaged nine drinks per day. In 2004, over 1.3 billion beverage servings are sold each day. Although Coca-Cola was first created in the United States, it became popular wherever it went. More than 70 percent of income comes from outside the United States, making John Pemberton's company a truly global powerhouse. [126]

1886 Dishwasher

  • The dishwasher cleans dishes, glassware, and eating utensils. Josephine Cochrane successfully invented the first mechanical device with the use of soap to wash cups, saucers, and dishes within built compartments. [127]

1886 Horizontal filing cabinet

  • A filing cabinet is a piece of office furniture used to store paper documents in file folders. It is an enclosure for drawers in which items are stored. On November 2, 1886, Henry Brown patented his invention of a "receptacle for storing and preserving papers." This was a fire and accident safe container made of forged metal, which could be sealed with a lock and key. It was special in that it kept the papers separated. [128]

1886 Telephone directory

  • A telephone directory is a listing of telephone subscribers in a geographical area or subscribers to services provided by the organization that publishes the directory. R. H. Donnelley created the first official telephone directory which was referred to as the Yellow Pages in 1886.[129]

1887 Slot machine

  • A slot machine is a casino gambling machine. The first "one-armed bandit" was invented in 1887 by Charles Fey of San Francisco, California who devised a simple automatic mechanism.[130] Due to the vast number of possible wins with the original poker card based game, it proved practically impossible to come up with a way to make a machine capable of making an automatic pay-out for all possible winning combinations. Charles Fey devised a machine with three spinning reels containing a total of five symbols – horseshoes, diamonds, spades, hearts and a Liberty Bell, which also gave the machine its name.

1887 Softball

  • As a bat-and-ball team sport, softball is a variant of baseball. The difference between the two sports is that softball uses larger balls and requires a smaller playing field. Beginning as an indoor game in Chicago, softball was invented in 1887 by George Hancock. [131]

1887 Disc record

  • Thomas Edison's tube recording system produces distorted sound because of gravity's pressure on the playing stylus. In response, Emile Berliner invented a process for recording sound on a horizontal disc, eventually known as the "platter." [132]

1887 Comptometer

  • A Comptometer is a mechanical or electro-mechanical adding machine. The comptometer was the first adding device to be driven solely by the action of pressing keys, which are arranged in an array of vertical and horizontal columns. Although the comptometer was designed primarily for adding, it could also do division, multiplication and subtraction. Special comptometers with varying key arrays were produced for a variety of purposes, including calculating currencies, time and Imperial measures of weight. The original design was invented and patented in 1887 by Dorr Felt. [133]

1888 Kinetoscope

  • The Kinetoscope was an early motion picture exhibition device. It was designed for films to be viewed individually through the window of a cabinet housing its components. The Kinetoscope introduced the basic approach that would become the standard for all cinematic projection before the advent of video, creating the illusion of movement by conveying a strip of perforated film bearing sequential images over a light source with a high-speed shutter. First described in conceptual terms by Thomas Alva Edison in 1888, his idea was largely developed by one of his students between 1889 and 1892. [134]

1888 Telautograph[list membership disputed]

  • The telautograph, an analog precursor to the modern fax machine, transmits electrical impulses recorded by potentiometers at the sending station to stepping motors attached to a pen at the receiving station, thus reproducing at the receiving station a drawing or signature made by sender. It was the first such device to transmit drawings to a stationary sheet of paper. The telautograph's invention is attributed to Elisha Gray, who patented it in 1888. [135]

1888 Drinking straw

  • The drinking straw is a tube used for transferring a liquid to the mouth, usually a drink from one location to another. Marvin Stone was the inventor of the drinking straw.[136] The first drinking straws were made of dry, hollow, rye grass. Stone, who worked in a factory that made paper cigarette holders, did not like this design because it made beverages taste like grass. As an alternative, on January 3, 1888, he got a piece of paper from his factory. He wrapped it around a pencil. He coated it with wax so it would not leak or get waterlogged.

1888 Revolving door

  • A revolving door has three or four doors that hang on a center shaft and rotate around a vertical axis within a round enclosure. The revolving door was invented in 1888 by Theophilus Van Kannel of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[137] In high-rise buildings, regular doors are hard to open because of air pressure differentials. Van Kannel's new type of door was easy to open in tall building. Van Kannel patented the revolving door on August 7, 1888.

1889 Paper towel

A paper towel has the same purposes as conventional towels. In 1889, a school teacher in Ashland, Ohio, named Kurt Klier, gave students individual paper squares, so that the single towel in the bathroom would not be infected with germs. When Arthur Scott, head of the Scott Paper Company, heard about it he decided to try and sell a load of paper that had been made too thick to use as toilet paper. [138]

1890 Babcock test

The Babcock test was the first inexpensive and practical test factories which was used to determine the fat content of milk. Invented by Stephen Moulton Babcock in 1890, the test was developed to prevent dishonest farmers who could, until the 1890s, water down their milk or remove some cream before selling it to the factories because milk was paid for by volume. [139]

1891 Escalator

  • In 1891, Jesse Reno invented a novelty ride at Coney Island in the form of a moving stairway, elevating passengers on a conveyor belt andat an angle of 25 degrees.[140] The device as shown at the Paris Exposition of 1900 became known as the escalator. The escalator over the years gradually evolved from being a thrill ride into one of practical use and as means to transport large masses of people between multiple levels and floors of buildings.

1891 Ferris wheel

  • The Ferris wheel is a non-building structure, consisting of an upright wheel with passenger gondolas attached to the rim. The Ferris wheel was invented by the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania bridge-builder George Washington Gale Ferris.[141] The first Ferris wheel was opened on June 21, 1893 at the Chicago World's Fair.

1891 Radio

Multiple radio receivers and transceivers

Radio uses electromagnetic waves to send signals. The frequencies are below those of visible light. Information is carried by systematically changing some property of the radiated waves such as amplitude, frequency, or phase. Nikola Tesla is regarded by most, as well as the United States Supreme Court who in 1943 unianimously overturned Guglielmo Marconi's patent,[142] as the original inventor of effective radio transmissions and many of the patents concerning radio such as reliable radio frequencies, his system of four circuits in resonance which showed the aerial connection with the ground as the essential element of wireless telegraphy, and effective transmission of long-distance signals. [2]

1891 Crown cork

The crown cork, the first form of bottle cap, was invented by William Painter in Baltimore, Maryland in 1891. [143]

1891 Dow process[list membership disputed]

The Dow process is the electrolytic method of bromine extraction from brine, and was Herbert Henry Dow's second revolutionary process for generating bromine commercially.[144]

1891 Gas-operated reloading

  • Gas-operation is a system of operation used to provide energy to operate autoloading firearms. In gas-operation, a portion of high pressure gas from the cartridge being fired is used to power a mechanism to extract the spent case and chamber a new cartridge. Energy from the gas is harnessed through either a port in the barrel or trap at the muzzle. This high-pressure gas impinges on a surface such as a piston head to provide motion for unlocking of the action, extraction of the spent case, ejection, cocking of the hammer or striker, chambering of a fresh cartridge, and locking of the action. John Moses Browning, a well known designer of lever action firearms, filed his first patent for an automatic firearm that harnessed expanding propellant gas to operate the mechanism in 1891. [145]

1891 Traveler's check

  • A traveler's check is a preprinted, fixed-amount check designed to allow the person signing it to make an unconditional payment to someone else as a result of having paid the issuer for that privilege. It was invented by American Express in 1891.[146]

1891 Zipper

  • The zipper is a popular device for temporarily joining two edges of fabric. Whitcomb L. Judson was an American engineer from Chicago, Illinois, who invented the metal zipper device with locking teeth in 1891. [147]

1892 Tractor

An Oliver 60 Row Crop, circa 1944

A tractor is a vehicle specifically designed to deliver a high tractive effort at slow speeds, for the purposes of hauling a trailer or machinery used in agriculture or construction. The term is used to describe the distinctive farm vehicle: agricultural implements may be towed behind or mounted on the tractor, and the tractor may also provide a source of power if the implement is mechanized. In 1892, John Froelich invented and built the first gasoline-powered tractor in Clayton County, Iowa. [148]

1893 Silicon carbide

Silicon carbide, or carborundum, is a compound of silicon and carbon bonded together to form ceramics, but it also occurs in nature as the extremely rare mineral moissanite. The material was manufactured by Edward Goodrich Acheson around 1893. [149]

1893 Spectroheliograph[list membership disputed]

The spectroheliograph is an instrument used in astronomy that captures a photographic image of the Sun at a single wavelength of light, a monochromatic image. It was invented in 1893 by George Ellery Hale and independently later by Henri Alexandre Deslandres in 1894. [150]

1894 Pneumatic hammer

  • A pneumatic hammer or jackhammer is a portable percussive drill powered by compressed air. It is used to drill rock and break up pavement, among other applications. It jabs with its bit, not rotating it. In 1894, Charles Brady King of Detroit, Michigan invented and patented the pneumatic hammer. [151]

1895 Volleyball

  • Volleyball is an Olympic team sport in which two teams of 6 active players are separated by a net. Each team tries to score points against one another by grounding a ball on the other team's court under organized rules. William G. Morgan invented a game known as Mintonnette in 1895 while studying at a YMCA in Holyoke, Massachusetts.[152] It was later re-named volleyball by Alfred S. Halstead.

1897 Cotton candy

  • Cotton candy is a soft confection made from sugar that is heated and spun into slim threads that look like a mass of cotton. It was invented in 1897 by William Morrison and John C. Wharton, candy-makers from Nashville, Tennessee. [153]

1897 Comic book

  • A comic book is a magazine or book of narrative artwork and, virtually always, dialog and descriptive prose with humorous or action-oriented content. The first known proto-comic-book magazine was "The Yellow Kid in McFadden's Flats", published by the G. W. Dillingham Company in 1897.[154] It reprinted material, primarily the October 18, 1896 to January 10, 1897 sequence titled "McFadden's Row of Flats" from cartoonist Richard F. Outcault.

1898 Remote control

  • A remote control is an electronic device used to operate any machine remotely. Many of these remotes communicate to their respective devices through infrared signals and radio control. In Madison Square Garden, at the Electrical Exhibition, Nikola Tesla gave the first demonstration of a boat propelling in water, controlled by his remote control which he designed using radio signals. Tesla received a patent for his invention in 1898. [155]

1898 Semi-automatic shot gun

  • A semi-automatic, or self-loading shot gun is a firearm that requires only a trigger pull for each round that is fired, unlike a single-action revolver, a pump-action firearm, a bolt-action firearm, or a lever-action firearm, which all require the shooter to chamber each successive round manually. In 1898, John Moses Browning invented the first semi-sutomatic shot gun, later patenting it in 1900. Naming it the Auto-5, Browning's semi-automatic relied on long recoil operation. This design remained the dominant form in semi-automatic shotguns for approximately 50 years, being widely used and the preferred weapon of choice among soldiers fighting in World War One. Production of the Auto-5 ceased in 1999. [156]

1898 Flashlight

  • A flashlight is a portable electric spotlight which emits light from a small incandescent lightbulb, or from one or more light-emitting diodes. Invented by Joshua Lionel Cowen in New York City in 1898. [157]

1898 Synthetic bristled hairbrush

  • A hairbrush is a small brush with rigid bristles used in hair care for brushing, styling, and detangling human hair, or for brushing a domestic animal's fur. Although not the first to invent a hairbrush, Lyda Newman was granted a patent in 1898 for the first hairbrush incorporating synthetic bristles as prior hairbrushes were made with boar’s hair. [158]

1898 Vertical filing cabinet

  • A filing cabinet is a piece of office furniture usually used to store paper documents in file folders. In the most simple sense, it is an enclosure for drawers in which items are stored. A vertical file cabinet has drawers that extend from the short side (typically 15 inches) of the cabinet. The vertical filing cabinet was invented by Edwin G. Seibels in 1898, thus revolutionizing efficient record-keeping and archiving by creating space for offices, schools, and businesses. [159]

1898 Sousaphone

  • The sousaphone, sometimes referred to as a marching tuba, is a wearable tuba descended from the hélicon. It was designed such that it fits around the body of the wearer and so it can be easily played while being worn. The sousaphone is named after John Philip Sousa but was invented by C. G. Conn in 1898.[160]

1900 Merrill-Crowe process

  • The Merrill-Crowe process is a separation technique for removing gold from a cyanide solution. The basic process was discovered and patented by Charles Washington Merrill around 1900, then later refined by Thomas B. Crowe, working for the Merrill Company.[161]

1900 Carbide lamp

  • Carbide lamps, also known as acetylene gas lamps, are simple lamps that produce and burn acetylene which is created by the reaction of calcium carbide with water. The first carbide lamp (mining lamp?) developed in the United States was patented in New York City on August 28, 1900 by Frederick Baldwin. [162]

1900 Thumbtack

  • A thumbtack is a short nail or pin with a large, slightly rounded head made of metal which is used to fasten documents to a background for public display and which can easily be inserted or removed by hand. The thumbtack was invented by Edwin Moore around 1900, the year in which he founded the Moore Push-Pin Company. [163]

1901 Mercury-vapor lamp

  • A mercury-vapor lamp is a gas discharge lamp which uses mercury in an excited state to produce light. The arc discharge is generally confined to a small fused quartz arc tube mounted within a larger borosilicate glass bulb. The outer bulb may be clear or coated with a phosphor. In either case, the outer bulb provides thermal insulation, protection from ultraviolet radiation, and a convenient mounting for the fused quartz arc tube. In 1901, Peter Cooper Hewitt invented and patented the mercury-vapor lamp. [164]

1901 Assembly line production

Modern assembly line production

Used globally around the world, an assembly line is a manufacturing process in which interchangeable parts are added to a product in a sequential manner create a finished product more quickly than with older methods. rimitive assembly line production was used in 1901 by Ransom Eli Olds, an early car-maker.[3] Henry Ford used the first conveyor belt-based assembly-line in his car factory in 1913–1914 in the Highland Park, Michigan plant.[165] This type of manufacturing greatly reduced the amount of time taken to put each car together, thus reducing production, material, and labor costs so that an affordable product cost could be passed onto consumers.

1901 Disposable safety razor

A safety razor protects the skin fom all but the edge of the blade. King Camp Gillette, former traveling hardware salesman of Fond du Lac, invents double-edged safety razor. His innovation of safety razors with disposable blades beat the competition. Gillette's thin blade was covered by the razor housing, thus protecting the skin against deep cuts. This enabled the majority of people to shave themselves safely for the first time.[166]

1902 Hearing aid

  • A hearing aid is an electroacoustic body-worn apparatus which typically fits in or behind the wearer's ear, and is designed to amplify and modulate sounds for the wearer. Although hearing aids in some form or fashion such as the ear trumpet were developed in previous years, the first electric hearing aid was invented by Miller Reese Hutchison in 1901. [167]

1902 Collapsible periscope

  • A periscope is an instrument for observation from a concealed position, known for use in submarines. In a simple form it is a tube in each end of which are mirrors set parallel to each other and at an angle of 45 with a line between them. Periscopes allow a submarine, submerged at a shallow depth, to search for targets and threats in the surrounding sea and air. When not in use, the periscope is retracted into the hull. A sub commander in tactical conditions must exercise discretion when using his periscope, since it creates an observable wake and may be detectable to radar, giving away the sub's position. The invention of the collapsible periscope for use in submarine warfare is credited to Simon Lake in 1902, who called his device the omniscope or skalomniscope. [168]

1902 Mercury arc valve[list membership disputed]

  • A mercury arc valve is a type of electrical rectifier which converts alternating current into direct current. Rectifiers of this type were used in electric motor power supplies for industry, in electric railways, streetcars, and diesel-electric locomotives. They also found use in static inverter stations and as rectifiers for high-voltage direct current power transmission. Mercury arc rectifiers were invented by Peter Cooper Hewitt in 1902. [169]

1902 Air conditioning

Air conditioning units outside a classroom building

Air conditioning is the cooling and dehumidification of indoor air for thermal comfort. Willis Carrier invented and manufactured the world's first mechanical air conditioning unit in 1902.[4] Carrier pioneered the design and manufacture of refrigeration machines to cool large spaces. By increasing industrial production in the summer months, air conditioning revolutionized American life. The introduction of residential air conditioning in the 1920s helped start the great migration to the Sunbelt. However, air conditioning would not catch on until after World War Two.

1903 Tea bag[list membership disputed]

A tea bag is a small, porous paper, silk or nylon sealed bag containing tea leaves for brewing tea. Tea bags were invented by Thomas Sullivan around 1903.[170] The first bags were made from silk. Sullivan was a tea and coffee merchant in New York who began packaging tea samples in tiny silk bags, but many customers brewed the tea in them.

1903 Offset printing press

Offset printing is a commonly used printing technique where the inked image is transferred from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface. Ira Washington Rubel invented the first offset printing press in 1903.[171]

1903 Crayons

  • A crayon is a stick of colored wax, charcoal, chalk, or other materials used for writing and drawing. Crayons were invented by Edwin Binney and Harold Smith,[172] who owned a paint company in New York City, New York. As inexpensive art supplies, Binney and Smith invented the modern-day crayon by combining paraffin wax with pigments. After great success of marketing them to consumers, they became known by the brand name of Crayola.

1903 Airplane

The Wright brothers: First in flight

A fixed-wing aircraft, or airplane, is a heavier-than-air craft whose lift is generated by air pressure differential between the upper and lower wing surfaces. The Wright brothers, Wilbur and Orville Wright of Dayton, Ohio, are credited with the world's first successful human flight in a powered airplane and making the first controlled, powered, and heavier-than-air human flight on December 17, 1903.[173] In the two years afterward, they developed their flying machine into the world's first practical fixed-wing aircraft. The brothers' fundamental breakthrough was their invention of "three axis-control," which enabled the pilot to steer the aircraft effectively and to maintain its equilibrium. This required method has become standard on all fixed-wing aircraft. From the beginning of their aeronautical work, the Wright brothers focused on unlocking the secrets of control to conquer "the flying problem," rather than on developing more powerful engines as some other experimenters did. Charles Edward Taylor built the first aircraft engine and was a vital contributor of mechanical aspects in the building and maintaining of early Wright engines and airplanes.[174] The Wright brothers are officially credited worldwide through the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, the standard setting and record-keeping body for aeronautics and astronautics, as achieving "the first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight".

1903 Windshield wipers

A windshield wiper with motorized arm

The windshield wiper is a bladed device used to wipe rain and dirt from a windshield. The windshield wiper was invented by Mary Anderson in 1903 to help streetcars operate safely in the rain.[175] In 1905, Anderson patented her invention, which allowed the car operator to control the external, swinging arm wipers from within the car.

1903 Wood's glass

Wood's glass is a light filter used in communications during World War I. His "invisible radiation" technique worked both in infrared daylight communication and ultraviolet night communications. It did not transmit visible light, leaving the 'invisible radiation' as a signal beam. Wood's glass was developed by Robert Williams Wood in 1903. [176]

1903 Wood's lamp[list membership disputed]

A Wood's lamp is a diagnostic tool used in dermatology which shines ultraviolet light onto the skin of the patient; a technician then observes any subsequent fluorescence. Though the technique for producing a source of ultraviolet light was devised by Robert Williams Wood in 1903 using "Wood's glass", not until 1925 was the technique used in dermatology by Margarot and Deveze for the detection of fungal infection of hair. [177]

1904 Automatic transmission

  • An automatic transmission is an automobile gearbox that changes gear ratios automatically as the vehicle moves, freeing the driver from having to shift gears manually. Modern automatic transmissions trace their origins to an early "horseless carriage" gearbox that was developed in 1904 by the Sturtevant brothers of Boston, Massachusetts. [178]

1904 AC power plugs and sockets

  • An electric plug is a male electrical connector with contact prongs to connect mechanically and electrically to slots in the matching female socket. Wall sockets, are female electrical connectors that have slots or holes which accept and deliver current to the prongs of inserted plugs. Sockets are designed to accept only matching plugs and reject all others. The original two blade electrical plug and socket were invented by Harvey Hubbell and patented in 1904.[179] The three-prong plug was invented by Philip F. Labre in 1928.

1905 Architectural acoustics

  • Architectural acoustics is the science of controlling sound within buildings. The first application of architectural acoustics was in the design of opera houses and then concert halls. It was developed by Wallace Clement Sabine from 1895 to 1905. [180]

1905 Fly swatter

  • A flyswatter is a hand-held device for swatting flies and other insects. Samuel Crumbine, a member of the Kansas board of health, wanted to raise public awareness of the threat of flies. He was inspired by a chant at a Topeka softball game: "swat the ball". In a health bulletin published soon afterwards, he exhorted Kansans to "swat the fly". In response, a schoolteacher named Frank H. Rose created the "fly bat", a device consisting of a yardstick attached to a piece of screen. Crumbine invented the device now commonly known as the fly swatter. [181]

1905 XY sex-determination system

  • The XY sex-determination system is the sex-determination system found in humans, most other mammals, some insects and some plants. In this system, females have two of the same kind of sex chromosome (XX), and are called the homogametic sex. Males have two distinct sex chromosomes (XY), and are called the heterogametic sex. The XY sex determination system was first described independently by Nettie Stevens and Edmund Beecher Wilson in 1905. [182]

1905 Ice pop[list membership disputed]

  • An ice pop is a frozen water-based dessert on a stick. It is made by freezing a colored, flavored liquid around a stick. Once the liquid freezes solid, the stick can be used as a handle to hold the ice pop. The ice pop was invented by 11-year-old Frank Epperson in 1905.[183] Living in San Francisco, California, Epperson had left a fruit drink out overnight, with a stirrer in it, thus making it freeze. In 1923, Epperson got a patent on his "frozen ice on a stick". Epperson also invented the twin ice pop, with two sticks so it could be shared by two children. The most famous brand name associated with the ice pop is Popsicle, a trademark owned by Unilever.

1905 Scientific management[list membership disputed]

  • Scientific management is a theory of management that analyzes and synthesizes work flows, improving labor productivity. The core ideas of the theory were developed by Frederick Winslow Taylor in the 1880s and 1890s, and were first published in his monographs, Shop Management in 1905 and The Principles of Scientific Management in 1911. [184]

1906 Audion tube

  • The Audion is an electronic amplifier device and was the forerunner of the triode, in which the current from the filament to the plate was controlled by a third element, the grid. A small amount of power applied to the grid could control a larger current from the filament to the plate, allowing the Audion to both detect radio signals and to provide amplification. The Audion tube was invented by Lee De Forest in 1906. [185]

1908 Electric washing machine

  • A washing machine, or washer, is a machine designed to clean laundry, such as clothing, towels and sheets. The Thor was the first electric-powered washing machine. Introduced in 1908, the electric washing machine was invented by Alva J. Fisher. A patent was issued on August 9, 1910. [186]

1909 Paper shredder

  • Paper shredders are used to cut paper into chad, typically either strips or fine particles. Government organizations, businesses, and private individuals use shredders to destroy private, confidential, or otherwise sensitive documents. The first paper shredder is credited to prolific inventor Abbot Augustus Low of Horseshoe, New York.[187] His patent for a “waste paper receptacle” to offer an improved method of disposing of waste paper received a U.S. patent on August 31, 1909.

1909 Suppressor

  • A suppressor or silencer is a device either attached to or part of the barrel of a firearm to reduce the amount of noise and flash generated by firing the weapon. It generally takes the form of a cylindrically-shaped metal tube with various internal mechanisms to reduce the sound of firing by slowing the escaping propellant gas, and sometimes by reducing the velocity of the bullet. Hiram Percy Maxim, the son of famous machine gun inventor Hiram Stevens Maxim, is credited with inventing the suppressor in 1909. [188]

1909 Muffler

  • A muffler is a device for reducing the amount of noise emitted by a machine. On internal combustion engines, the engine exhaust blows out through the muffler. The internal combustion engine muffler was invented in parallel with the firearm suppressor by Hiram Percy Maxim in 1909. [189]

1909 Gin rummy[list membership disputed]

  • Gin rummy, or Gin for short, is a simple and popular two-player card game with a standard 52-card pack. The objective of Gin Rummy is to score more points than your opponent improving one's hand by forming melds and eliminating deadwood. Gin rummy was invented by Elwood T. Baker and his son, C. Graham Baker in 1909. [190]

1910 Headset

  • A headset is a headphone combined with a microphone. Headsets provide the equivalent functionality of a telephone handset with hands-free operation. They are used in call centers and by people in telephone-intensive jobs. The first-ever headset was invented in 1910, by a Stanford University student named Nathaniel Baldwin. [191]

1911 Self-starter

  • An automobile self-starter is an electric motor that initiates rotational motion in an internal combustion engine before it can power itself.Charles F. Kettering, who developed the self-starter while working at National Cash Register, sells his electric automobile starters to the Cadillac company.[192] This device increases the popularity of the gasoline-powered car, which no longer needs to be started with a hand crank.

1911 Road surface marking

  • Edward N. Hines originated the concept of painting a line down the center of a road to separate traffic in opposing directions, they were first used in Wayne County, Michigan in 1911. [193]

1911 Flying boat

  • A flying boat is a specialized form of aircraft that is designed to take off from and land on water, using its fuselage as a floating hull. Such aircraft are sometimes stabilized on water by underwing floats or by wing-like projections from the fuselage. It is the use of the fuselage to provide the main buoyancy of the aircraft which distinguishes flying boats from floatplanes, which use one or more floats attached below the fuselage or the wings to keep the fuselage clear of the water. In 1911, American aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss invented the two-seat "Flying Fish", a large craft that became classified as a flying boat because the hull sat in the water. [194]

1912 Autopilot

  • An autopilot is a mechanical, electrical, or hydraulic system used to guide a vehicle without assistance from a human being. Most people understand an autopilot to refer specifically to aircraft, but self-steering gear for ships, boats, space craft and missiles is sometimes also called by this term. The first aircraft autopilot was developed by Lawrence Sperry in 1912.[195] Sperry demonstrated it two years later in 1914, and proved the credibility of the invention by flying the aircraft with his hands away from the controls and visible to onlookers.

1912 Fast food restaurant

  • A fast food restaurant, sometimes known as a quick service restaurant or QSR, is a specific type of restaurant characterized both by its fast food cuisine and by minimal table service. Food served in fast food restaurants typically caters to a "meat-sweet diet" and is offered from a limited menu. Cooked in bulk and kept hot, it is finished and packaged to order, usually available ready to take away, though seating may be provided. The history of fast food can be traced to New York City on July 7, 1912 with the opening of a fast food restaurant by Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart called the Automat. [196]

1912 Harvard spectral classification

  • The Harvard classification system is a one-dimensional classification scheme. Physically, the classes indicate the temperature of the star's atmosphere and are normally listed from hottest to coldest. It was developed by Edward C. Pickering and Annie Jump Cannon from 1890 to 1912. [197]

1912 Electric blanket

  • An electric blanket is a blanket with an integrated electrical heating device usually placed above the top bed sheet. The first electric blanket was invented in 1912 by American physician Sidney I. Russell.[198]

1912 Electric traffic light

Traffic lights in Spain

The traffic light, also known as traffic signal, is a signaling device positioned at a road intersection, pedestrian crossing, or other location. Its purpose is to indicate, using a series of colors, the correct moment to stop, drive, ride or walk, using a universal color code. In Salt Lake City, Utah, policeman Lester Wire invented the first red-green electric traffic lights.[199] The color of the traffic lights representing stop and go are likely derived from those used to identify port (red) and starboard (green) in maritime rules governing right of way, where the vessel on the left must stop for the one crossing on the right.

1914 Regenerative circuit

The regenerative circuit allows an electronic signal to be amplified many times by the same vacuum tube or other active component such as a field effect transistor. A regenerative circuit is often an AM detector, converting the RF signal on the antenna to an audio waveform. Their use of positive feedback greatly increases both the selectivity and sensitivity of a simple receiver. Positive feedback builds up the input signal to very high levels. Edwin Armstrong, invented and patented the regenerative circuit while he was a junior in college, in 1914.[200] He patented the super-regenerative circuit in 1922, and the superheterodyne receiver in 1918.

1914 Traffic cone[list membership disputed]

  • Traffic cones, also called toddlers, road cones, safety cones, construction cones, pylons, or Witches' Hats, are usually cone-shaped markers that are placed on roads or sidewalks to temporarily redirect traffic in a safe manner. Traffic cones were invented in 1914 by Charles P. Rudabaker.[201]

1914 Fortune cookie[list membership disputed]

  • A fortune cookie is a crisp cookie usually made from flour, sugar, vanilla, and oil with a "fortune" wrapped inside. A "fortune" is a piece of paper with words of faux wisdom or a vague prophecy. In the United States, it is usually served with Chinese food in Chinese restaurants as a dessert. The message inside may also include a list of lucky numbers and a Chinese phrase with translation. Contrary to belief, the fortune cookie associated as a Chinese invention is a fallacy. In 1914, the Japanese-American named Makoto Hagiwara of the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco, California introduced the fortune cookie and is thus recognized as its inventor. [202]

1915 Single-sideband modulation

  • Single-sideband modulation (SSB) is a refinement of amplitude modulation that more efficiently uses electrical power and bandwidth. Single-sideband modulation produces a modulated output signal that has twice the bandwidth of the original baseband signal. Although John Renshaw Carson invented SBB in 1915, his patent was not granted until March 27, 1923. [203]

1915 Gas mask

  • A gas mask is a mask worn over the face to protect the wearer from inhaling "airborne pollutants" and toxic gasses. The mask forms a sealed cover over the nose and mouth, but may also cover the eyes and other vulnerable soft tissues of the face. In 1915, American chemist and inventor James Bert Garner read a newspaper article describing a gas attack on British forces which he hypothesized had employed chlorine gas.[204] Remembering experiments he had performed while teaching at the University of Chicago, he set about creating the first gas mask which he tested on two of his associates in a gas filled chamber. Following the successful completion of the test, he provided the results to the British government. Garner's mask was the first to be used on the Western front during World War One.

1916 Supermarket

The interior of a supermarket in Toronto, Canada

A supermarket is a self-service store offering a wide variety of food and household merchandise, organized into departments. It is larger in size and has a wider selection than a traditional grocery store. The concept of a self-service grocery store was developed by American entrepreneur Clarence Saunders and his Piggly Wiggly stores.[205] His first store opened in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1916.

1916 Cloverleaf interchange

A cloverleaf interchange is a two-level interchange in which left turns, in countries that drive on the right, are handled by loop roads. To go left, in right-hand traffic, vehicles first pass either over or under the other road, then turn right onto a one-way three-fourths loop ramp (270°) and merge onto the intersecting road. The cloverleaf was first patented in the United States by Arthur Hale, a civil engineer in Maryland, on February 29, 1916. [206]

The Roaring Twenties (1919–1929)

1919 Pneumoencephalography[list membership disputed]

Pneumoencephalography is a medical procedure in which cerebrospinal fluid is drained to a small amount from around the brain and replaced with a gas to allow the structure of the brain to show up more clearly on an X-ray picture. It was introduced in 1919 by the American neurosurgeon Walter Dandy.[207]

1919 Silica gel

  • Silica gel is a granular, porous form of silica made from sodium silicate. Silica gel is a solid. The synthetic route for silica gel was patented by chemistry professor Walter A. Patrick at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland in 1919. [208]

1920 Polygraph

  • A polygraph, or lie detector, is an instrument that measures and records several physiological responses such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration breathing rhythms body temperature and skin conductivity while the subject is asked and answers a series of questions, on the theory that false answers will produce distinctive measurements. This device recording both blood-pressure and galvanic skin response was invented in 1920 by Dr. John A. Larson of the University of California and first applied in law enforcement work by the Berkeley Police Department.[209] In 1935, further work on this device was done by Leonarde Keeler.

1920 Dendrochronology

  • Dendrochronology or tree-ring dating is the method of scientific dating based on the analysis of tree-ring growth patterns. This technique was developed in 1920 by the astronomer A. E. Douglass.[210]

1921 Wirephoto[list membership disputed]

  • Wirephoto or telephotography is the sending of pictures by telegraph or telephone. The first electronically-transmitted photograph is sent by Western Union.

1921 Flowchart

  • A flowchart is common type of chart, representing an algorithm or process, showing the steps as boxes of various kinds, and their order by connecting these with arrows. Flowcharts are used in analyzing, designing, documenting or managing a process or program in various fields. The second structured method for documenting process flow, the "flow process chart", was introduced by Frank Gilbreth to members of ASME in 1921 as the presentation “Process Charts—First Steps in Finding the One Best Way”.[211]

1921 Adhesive bandage

  • Popularly known by the brand name Band Aid, an adhesive bandage is a self-sticking taped and small dressing used for injuries not serious enough to require a full-size bandage. This easy-to-use dressing with adhesive tape was invented by Earle Dickson. [212]

1922 Radial arm saw

  • A radial arm saw has a circular saw mounted on a sliding horizontal arm. In addition to making length cuts a radial arm saw may be configured with a dado blade to create cuts for dado, rabbet or half lap joints. Some radial arm saws allow the blade to be turned parallel to the back fence allowing a rip cut to be performed. In 1922, Raymond De Walt of Bridgeton, New Jersey invented the radial arm saw. A patent was applied for in 1923 and awarded to De Walt in 1925. [213]

1922 Water skiing

  • Water skiing is a sport where one or more persons is pulled behind a motor boat or a cable ski installation on a body of water wearing one or more skis. Water skiing began in 1922 when Ralph Samuelson used two boards as skis and a clothesline as a tow rope on Lake Pepin in Lake City, Minnesota. The sport remained a little-known activity for several years. Samuelson took stunts on the road, performing shows from Michigan to Florida. In 1966 the American Water Ski Association formally acknowledged Samuelson as the first on record. Samuelson was also the first ski racer, first to go over a jump ramp, first to slalom ski, and the first to put on a water ski show. [214]

1922 Audiometer

  • An audiometer is a machine used for evaluating hearing loss. Audiometers are standard equipment at ENT clinics and in audiology centers. They usually consist of an embedded hardware unit connected to a pair of headphones and a feedback button, sometimes controlled by a standard PC. The invention of this machine is generally credited to Dr. Harvey Fletcher of Brigham Young University who invented the first audiometer in 1922. [215]

1923 Bulldozer

The Caterpillar killdozer

A bulldozer is a crawler or a continuous tracked tractor, equipped with a substantial metal plate or blade, used to push large quantities of soil, sand, or rubble during construction work. In 1923, a farmer named James Cummings and a draftsman named J. Earl McLeod made the first designs.[216] A replica is on display at the city park in Morrowville, Kansas where the two built the first bulldozer.

1923 Masking tape

Masking tape is a pressure sensitive tape made with an easy-to-tear thin paper, and fly back and a removable pressure sensitive adhesive. Richard G. Drew's, an employee of the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M), first first tape invention was a masking tape made for painters in 1923.[217] This early masking tape was a wide paper tape with adhesive on only the edges of the tape and not in the middle.

1923 Cotton swab

Cotton swabs consist of a small wad of cotton wrapped around either one or both ends of a small rod. They are commonly used in a variety of applications including first aid, cosmetics application, for cleaning, and arts & crafts. The cotton swab was invented by Leo Gerstenzang in the 1923,[218] who invented the product after attaching wads of cotton to toothpick. His product, which he named "Baby Gays", went on to become the most widely-sold brand name, "Q-tip".

1924 Gas chamber execution

  • A gas chamber is an apparatus for killing, consisting of a sealed chamber into which a toxic gas is introduced. The most commonly used poisonous agent is hydrogen cyanide; carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide have also been used. In an effort to make capital punishment more humane, the State of Nevada introduced death by gas chamber. Convicted murderer John Gee took 6 minutes to die. [219]

1924 Radio altimeter

  • A radio altimeter measures altitude above the terrain presently beneath an aircraft or spacecraft. This type of altimeter provides the distance between the plane and the ground directly below it, as opposed to a barometric altimeter which provides the distance above a pre-determined datum, usually sea level. In 1924, American engineer Lloyd Espenschied invented the radio altimeter. However, it took 14 years before Bell Labs was able to put Espenschied's device in a form that was adaptable for aircraft use. [220]

1924 Langmuir probe[list membership disputed]

  • A Langmuir probe is a device named after Nobel Prize-winning physicist Irving Langmuir, used to determine the electron temperature, electron density, and electric potential of a plasma. [221]

1925 Extragalactic astronomy

  • Extragalactic astronomy is the branch of astronomy concerned with objects outside the Milky Way Galaxy. In other words, it is the study of all astronomical objects which are not covered by galactic astronomy. It was started by Edwin Hubble when, in 1925, he discovered the existence of Cepheid variables in the Andromeda Galaxy. This discovery proved the existence of a galaxy over one million light-years away and thus extragalactic astronomy was created. [222][223]

1926 Liquid-fuel rocket

Schematic of a pumped bi-propellant rocket

The liquid-fuel rocket is a rocket with an engine that uses propellants in liquid form. On March 16, 1926 in Auburn, Massachusetts, Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the "father of modern rocketry," launched the first liquid fueled rocket in history, which used liquid oxygen and gasoline as propellants. [224]

1927 Bread slicer

Sliced bread is a loaf of bread which has been pre-sliced and packaged for commercial convenience. The automatic commercial bread slicer was invented in 1927 by Otto Frederick Rohwedder.[225] His machine both sliced and wrapped a loaf of bread. In 1928, the bread slicer was improved by Gustav Papendick, a baker from St. Louis, Missouri.

1927 Jukebox

A jukebox is a partially automated music-playing device, usually a coin-operated machine, that can play specially selected songs from self-contained media. The traditional jukebox is rather large with a rounded top and has colored lighting on the front of the machine on its vertical sides. The classic jukebox has buttons with letters and numbers on them that, when combined, are used to indicate a specific song from a particular record. The Automatic Music Instrument Company builds and introduces the first electric automated musical instrument which later became known as the jukebox during the 1930s. [226]

1927 Garbage disposal

  • A garbage disposal is a device, usually electrically-powered, installed under a kitchen sink between the sink's drain and the trap which shreds food waste into pieces small enough to pass through plumbing. The garbage disposal was invented in 1927 by John W. Hammes.[227] He was an architect working in Racine, Wisconsin. After eleven years of development, his InSinkErator company put his disposer on the market in 1968.

1927 Negative feedback amplifier

  • A negative feedback amplifier, or more commonly simply a feedback amplifier, is an amplifier which uses negative feedback to improve performance and reduce sensitivity to parameter variations due to manufacturing or environmental uncertainties. It was invented by Harold Stephen Black in 1927.[228]

1928 Recliner

  • A recliner is a reclining armchair. It has a backrest that can be tilted back, causing a footrest to extend from the front. Edward Knabusch and Edwin Shoemaker created the first recliner in Monroe, Michigan in 1928 when they modified a wooden porch chair so that the seat moved forward as the back reclined.[229] A padded model was later developed.

1928 Drive through

  • A drive-through, or drive-thru, allows customers to purchase products without leaving their cars. In 1928, City Center Bank, which became UMB Financial Corporation, R. Crosby Kemper opened what is considered the first drive-up window. In-n-Out Burger claims to have built the first drive-through restaurant in 1948.[230] Harry and Esther Snyder, the chain's founders, built their first restaurant in Baldwin Park, California, with a two-way speaker to enable patrons to order directly from their cars without the intermediation of a carhop.

1928 Ice cube tray

  • An ice cube tray is a tray divided into compartments. It is designed to be filled with water, then placed in a freezer until the water freezes to ice, producing ice cubes. The first flexible ice cube tray was invented by Lloyd Groff Copeman.[231] One day in 1928, while walking through some woods collecting sap for maple syrup, Copeman noticed that slush and ice flaked off his rubber boots easily, rather than adhering to them. Having recalled this incident over lunch with his patent attorney, he conducted experiments using rubber cups, and later set about designing and then patenting different types of tray: a metal tray with rubber separators, a metal tray with individual rubber cups, and a tray made completely of rubber.

1929 Freon

  • Freon is an odorless, colorless, nonflammable, and noncorrosive chlorofluorocarbon and hydrochlorofluorocarbon refrigerants, which are used in air conditioning, refrigeration and some automatic fire-fighting systems. Refrigerators from the late 1800s until 1929 used toxic gases, ammonia, methyl chloride, and sulfur dioxide as refrigerants. This new "miracle compound" was co-invented in 1929 by Charles Midgley Jr. and Charles Kettering. [232]

1928 Bubble gum

  • Bubblegum is a type of chewing gum especially designed for blowing bubbles. Bubblegum was invented by Frank Henry Fleer in 1906, but was not successful; the formulation of Fleer's "Blibber-Blubber," was too sticky. In 1928, Walter E. Diemer invented a superior formulation for bubble gum, which he called " Double Bubble." [233]

1928 Electric razor

  • The electric razor has a rotating, vibrating or oscillating blade to remove unwanted hair. The electric razor does not require the use of shaving cream, soap, or water. The razor is powered by a small DC motor, and usually has rechargeable batteries, though early ones were powered directly by house current. The electric razor was invented in 1928 by Col. Jacob Schick. [234]

1928 Iron lung

  • An iron lung is a large machine that enables a person to breathe when normal muscle control has been lost or the work of breathing exceeds the person's ability. It is a form of medical ventilator. Philip Drinker invented the iron lung working at Harvard University in 1928. [235]

1929 Air traffic control

  • Air traffic control (ATC) is a service provided by ground-based controllers who direct aircraft on the ground and in the air. The primary purpose of ATC systems worldwide is to separate aircraft to prevent collisions, to organize and expedite the flow of traffic, and to provide information and other support for pilots when able. Archie League, who controlled aircraft using colored flags at what is today Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, is often considered the first air traffic controller. [236]

1929 Tampon with a removal cord[list membership disputed]

  • A tampon is a mass of absorbent material into a body cavity or wound to absorb bodily fluid. The most common type in daily use is disposable and designed to be inserted into the vagina during menstruation to absorb the flow of blood. The applicator tampon with removal cord was invented in 1929 and submitted for patent in 1931 by Dr. Earle Haas,[237] an American from Denver, Colorado. Dr. Hass later sold the patent of the applicator tampon to Gertrude Tendrich, who founded the Tampax Company for the mass production of the length ways expanding tampon.

1929 Flight simulator

  • A flight simulator is a system that simulates the experience of flying an aircraft. The different types of flight simulator range from video games up to full-size cockpit replicas mounted on hydraulic or electromechanical actuators, controlled by state of the art computer technology. In 1929, Edwin Link invented the flight simulator, calling it the "Blue Box" or Link Trainer, which started the now multi-billion dollar flight simulation industry. Prior to his death in 1981, he had accumulated more than 27 patents for aeronautics, navigation and oceanographic equipment. [238]

1929 Sunglasses

  • Sunglasses or sun glasses are a visual aid which feature lenses that are coloured, polarized or darkened to prevent strong light from reaching the eyes. In 1929, Sam Foster invented and mass-produced the first tinted eyewear pieces solely intended to block out sunlight. [239]

1929 Frozen food

  • Frozen food is food preserved by the process of freezing. Freezing food is a common method of food preservation which slows both food decay and, by turning water to ice, makes it unavailable for most bacterial growth and slows down most chemical reactions. Clarence Birdseye offered his quick-frozen foods to the public. Birdseye got the idea during fur-trapping expeditions to Labrador in 1912 and 1916, where he saw the natives use freezing to preserve foods. [240]

1929 Particle accelerator

  • A particle accelerator is a device that uses electric fields to propel electrically-charged particles to high speeds and to contain them. The earliest particle accelerators were cyclotrons, invented in 1929 by Ernest Lawrence at the University of California, Berkeley. [241]

1929 Expanding universe theory

  • Hubble's law is the statement in physical cosmology that the redshift in light coming from distant galaxies is proportional to their distance. The law was first formulated by the American astronomer Edwin Hubble in 1929 after nearly a decade of observations. It is considered the first observational basis for the expanding space paradigm and today serves as one of the pieces of evidence most often cited in support of the Big Bang Theory.[242]

1929 Pauling's rules

  • Pauling's rules are five rules published by Linus Pauling in 1929 for determining the crystal structures of complex ionic crystals.[243]

The Great Depression (1930–1939)

1930 Car audio

  • Car audio/video (car AV) is a term used to describe the sound or video system fitted in an automobile. In 1930, the Galvin Corporation introduced the first commercial car radio, the Motorola model 5T71, which sold for between $110 and $130 and could be installed in most popular automobiles.[244] Founders Paul Galvin and Joe Galvin came up with the name 'Motorola' when his company started manufacturing car radios.

1930 Pressure sensitive tape

  • Pressure sensitive tape, PSA tape, adhesive tape, self-stick tape, or sticky tape consists of a pressure sensitive adhesive coated onto a backing material such as paper, plastic film, cloth, or metal foil. Richard G. Drew's invention was a clear cellulose tape called Scotch (TM) Brand Cellulose Tape.[245] This tape was a clear, all-purpose adhesive tape that was soon adopted worldwide.

1930 Runway lighting[list membership disputed]

  • Runway lighting is used at airports which allow night landings. Seen from the air, runway lights form an outline of the runway. The first runway lighting appeared in 1930 at Cleveland Municipal Airport, now known as Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland, Ohio.

1930 Bathysphere

  • A bathysphere is a pressurized metal sphere that allows people to go deep in the ocean, to depths at which diving unaided is impossible. This hollow cast iron sphere with very thick walls is lowered and raised from a ship using a steel cable. The bathysphere was invented by William Beebe and Otis Barton.[246] William Beebe, an American naturalist and undersea explorer, tested the bathysphere in 1930, going down to 1,426 feet (435 m) in a 4'9" (1.45 m) diameter bathysphere. Beebe and Otis Barton descended about 3,000 ft (914 m) feet in a larger bathysphere in 1934. They descended off the coast of Nonsuch Island, Bermuda in the Atlantic Ocean. During the dive, they communicated with the surface via telephone.

1930 Chocolate chip cookie

  • A chocolate chip cookie is a drop cookie which features chocolate chips as its distinguishing ingredient. The traditional recipe combines a dough composed of butter and both brown and white sugar with semi-sweet chocolate chips. Ruth Wakefield invented chocolate chips (and chocolate chip cookies) in 1930.[247] Wakefield ran the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. Her new cookie invention was called the "Toll House Cookie." Her original cookies used broken-up bars of semi-sweet chocolate.

1930 Thermistor

  • A thermistor is a type of resistor with electrical resistance inversely proportional to its temperature. The word is a portmanteau of thermal and resistor. It was invented by Samuel Ruben in 1930. [248]

1931 Strobe light

  • The strobe light, commonly called a strobe, is a device used to produce regular flashes of light. Modern uses of strobe lights serve a purpose for safety warning, and motion detection. Strobes can be found atop most police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks. The origin of strobe lighting dates to 1931, when Harold Eugene Edgerton invented a flashing lamp to make an improved stroboscope for the study of moving objects, eventually resulting in dramatic photographs of objects such as bullets in flight.[249]

1931 Radio astronomy

A radio interferometer in New Mexico

Radio astronomy is a subfield of astronomy that studies celestial objects at radio frequencies. While trying to track down a source of electrical interference on telephone transmissions, Karl Guthe Jansky of Bell Telephone Laboratories discovers radio waves emanating from stars in outer space. [250]

1931 Aerogel

Aerogel is a high-density solid-state material derived from gel in which the liquid component of the gel has been replaced with gas. The result is an extremely low-density solid with several remarkable properties, most notably its effectiveness as a thermal insulator. It was first created by Samuel Stephens Kistler in 1931, as a result of a bet with Charles Learned over who could replace the liquid inside of a Fruit preserves jar with gas without causing shrinkage.[251]

1932 Power steering

Power steering is a system for reducing the steering effort on vehicles by using an external power source to assist in turning the roadwheels. On August 30, 1932, Francis W. Davis from Belmont, Massachusetts received a patent for his invention. [252]

1932 Staple remover

  • A staple remover allows for the quick removal of a staple from a material without causing damage. The form of destapler described above was invented by William G. Pankonin of Chicago, Illinois. A patent application for the same was filed on December 12, 1932, granted on March 3, 1936, and published on April 3, 1936 as a patent. [253]

1932 Tape dispenser

  • A tape dispenser holds a roll of tape and has a mechanism on one end to easily shear the tape. Dispensers vary widely based on the tape they dispense. Clear tape dispensers are commonly made of plastic, and may be disposable. Other dispensers are stationary and may have sophisticated features to control tape usage and improve ergonomics. The first tape dispenser with a built-in cutting edge was invented in 1932 by John A. Borden, another 3M employee. [254]

1932 Drive-in theatre

  • A drive-in theater consists of a large outdoor screen, a projection booth,a large parking area for automobiles, and usually a concession stand. Within this enclosed area, customers can view movies from the privacy and comfort of their cars. The drive-in theater was the creation of Camden, New Jersey, chemical company magnate Richard M. Hollingshead, Jr.[255] In 1932, Hollingshead conducted outdoor theater tests in his driveway. After nailing a screen to trees in his backyard, he set a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car and put a radio behind the screen, testing different sound levels with his car windows down and up. Blocks under vehicles in the driveway enabled him to determine the size and spacing of ramps so all automobiles could have a clear view of the screen.

1933 Multiplane camera

  • The multiplane camera is a special motion picture camera used in the traditional animation process that moves a number of pieces of artwork past the camera at various speeds and at various distances from one another, creating a three-dimensional effect, although not stereoscopic. Various parts of the artwork layers are left transparent, to allow other layers to be seen behind them. The movements are calculated and photographed frame-by-frame, with the result being an illusion of depth by having several layers of artwork moving at different speeds. The further away from the camera, the slower the speed. The multiplane effect is sometimes referred to as a parallax process. As a former director and animator of Walt Disney Studios, Ub Iwerks in 1933 invented the multiplane camera using four layers of flat artwork before a horizontal camera. [256]

1933 Frequency modulation

  • In telecommunications, frequency modulation (FM) conveys information over a carrier wave by varying its frequency. While working in the basement laboratory of Columbia's Philosophy Hall, Edwin Armstrong created wide-band frequency modulation radio.[257] Rather than varying the amplitude of a radio wave to create sound, Armstrong's method varied the frequency of the wave instead. FM radio broadcasts delivered a much clearer sound, free of static, than the AM radio dominant at the time. Armstrong received a patent on wideband FM on December 26, 1933.

1934 Modern trampoline

  • A trampoline is a gymnastic and recreational device consisting of a piece of taut, strong fabric stretched over a steel frame using many coiled springs to provide a rebounding force which propels the jumper high into the air. In a trampoline, the fabric is not elastic itself; the elasticity is provided by the springs which connect it to the frame. The modern trampoline was built by George Nissen and Larry Griswold around 1934. [258]

1935 Richter magnitude scale

  • The Richter magnitude scale, or local magnitude ML scale, assigns a number to quantify the amount of seismic energy released by an earthquake. It is a base-10 logarithmic scale obtained by calculating the logarithm of the combined horizontal amplitude of the largest displacement from zero on a Wood–Anderson torsion seismometer output. Invented in 1935 by Charles Richter along with Beno Gutenberg of the California Institute of Technology,[259] the scale was firstly intended to be used only in a particular study area in California, and on seismograms recorded on a particular instrument, the Wood-Anderson torsion seismometer.

1935 Franchising

  • Franchising refers to the methods of practicing and using another person's philosophy of business. In 1935, Howard Deering Johnson teamed up with Reginald Sprague to establish the first modern restaurant franchise.[260] The idea was to let independent operators use the same name, food, supplies, logo and even building design in exchange for a fee.

1935 Black light

  • A Black light or UV Light is a lamp emitting electromagnetic radiation that is almost exclusively in the soft ultraviolet range, and emits little visible light. The black light was invented by William H. Byler, in 1935. [261]

1935 Parking meter

  • A parking meter is a device used to collect money in exchange for the right to park a vehicle in a particular place for a limited amount of time. The parking meter was invented by Carl C. Magee of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.[262] Magee holds a patent for a "coin controlled parking meter," filed on May 13, 1935 and issued on May 24, 1938.

1935 pH meter

  • A pH meter is an electronic instrument used to measure the pH (acidity or alkalinity) of a liquid. In 1935, Arnold Orville Beckman invented the pH meter. [263]

1936 Phillips-head screw

  • The Phillips-head screw was patented by Henry F. Phillips in 1936.[264]

1936 EEG brain topography

  • EEG topography is a neuroimaging technique in which a large number of EEG electrodes are placed onto the head, following a geometrical array of even-spaced points. Special software in the apparatus' computer plots the activity on a color screen or printer, by coding the amount of activity in several tones of color. The spatial points lying between electrodes are calculated by mathematical techniques of interpolation, and thus a smooth gradation of colors is achieved. EEG brain topography was invented by William Grey Walter,[265] who in 1936, proved that by using a larger number of electrodes pasted to the scalp, each one having a small size, and a triangulation algorithm, it was possible to identify abnormal electrical activity in the brain areas around a tumor, and diminished activity inside it.

1936 Stock car racing

The world famous Daytona 500

Stock car racing is a form of automobile racing. Shorter ovals are called short tracks, unpaved short tracks are called dirt tracks, and longer ovals are known as superspeedways. On March 8, 1936, the first stock car race was held on the Daytona Beach Road Course, promoted by local racer Sig Haugdahl.[266] The race was 78 laps long (250 miles) for street-legal family sedans sanctioned by the American Automobile Association (AAA) for cars built in 1935 and 1936. The city posted a $5000 purse with $1700 for the winner. In 1948, stock car racing became a regulated sport when Bill France, Sr. created NASCAR. [267]

1936 Programming languages

A programming language is a machine-readable artificial language. Programming languages can be used to create programs that specify the behavior of a machine, to express algorithms precisely, or as a mode of human communication. The first programming languages predate the modern computer. In mathematical logic and computer science, lambda calculus, also written as λ-calculus, is a formal system designed to investigate function definition, function application and recursion. It was developed by Alonzo Church and Stephen Cole Kleene in the 1930s as part of an investigation into the foundations of mathematics, but has emerged as a useful tool in the investigation of problems in computability, recursion theory, and as a fundamental basis and a modern paradigm to programming and software languages. [268]

1936 Chair lift

  • A chair lift is a type of aerial lift, which consists of a continuously circulating steel cable loop strung between two end terminals and usually over intermediate towers, carrying a series of chairs. They are the primary onhill transport at most ski areas, but are also found at amusement parks, various tourist attractions, and increasingly, in urban transport. James Curran built the first chair lift for the Dollar Mountain resort in Sun Valley, Idaho. Dollar Mountain followed with an order for six more. [269]

1936 Galaxy morphological classification

Tuning-fork style diagram of the Hubble sequence

Galaxy morphological classification is a system used by astronomers to divide galaxies into groups based on their visual appearance. The first classification system of galaxies was invented by Edwin Hubble in 1936. Known originally as the Hubble sequence, the galaxy morphological classification divides galaxies into three broad classes: Elliptical galaxies, Spiral galaxies, and Lenticular galaxies. [270]

1937 Radio telescope

A radio telescope is a form of directional radio antenna used in radio astronomy and in tracking and collecting data from satellites and space probes. They differ from optical telescopes in that they operate in the radio frequency portion of the electromagnetic spectrum where they can detect and collect data on radio sources. Radio telescopes are typically large parabolic or dish antenna used singularly or in an array. As a successor to Karl Guthe Jansky in the field of radio astronomy, Grote Reber built the first parabolic "dish" radio telescope in 1937. He was instrumental in repeating Karl Guthe Jansky's pioneering but somewhat simple work, and went on to conduct the first sky survey in the radio frequencies. [271]

1937 Photosensitive glass

Photosensitive glass is a clear glass in which microscopic metallic particles can be formed into a picture or image by exposure to short wave radiations such as ultraviolet light. It was invented in November 1937 by S. Donald Stookey of Corning Glass Works. [272]

1937 Digital computer

  • A digital computer is a device capable of solving problems by processing information on discrete form. It operates on data, including magnitudes, letters, and symbols that are expressed in binary form. While working at Bell Labs in November 1937, George Stibitz, who is internationally recognized as the father of the modern digital computer, built the world's first relay-based computer which calculated binary addition. [273]

1937 Shopping cart

  • A shopping cart is a metal or plastic basket on wheels supplied by a shop, especially a supermarket, for use by customers inside the shop for transport of merchandise to the check-out counter during shopping. Often, customers are allowed to leave the carts in the parking lot, and store personnel return the carts to the shop. The first shopping cart was invented by Sylvan Goldman, owner of the Humpty Dumpty supermarket chain in Oklahoma City. [274]

1937 Polarized sunglasses

  • Polarized subglasses are protective eyewear which incorporate oscillated lenses shifting the sun's rays in the opposite direction. Polarized sunglasses were invented in 1937 by Edwin Land. [275]

1937 Xerography

  • Xerography, which means "dry writing" in Greek, is a process of making copies that was invented in 1938 by Chester Floyd Carlson.[276] Xerography makes copies without using ink. In this process, static electricity charges a lighted plate; a plastic powder is applied to the areas of the page to remain white. Carlson marketed his revolutionary device to about 20 companies before he could interest any. The Haloid Company, later called the Xerox Corporation, marketed it, and photocopying eventually became common and inexpensive.

1937 Klystron[list membership disputed]

  • A klystron is a specialized linear-beam vacuum tube. Klystrons are used as amplifiers at microwave and radio frequencies to produce both low-power reference signals for superheterodyne radar receivers and to produce high-power carrier waves for communications and the driving force for modern particle accelerator. Russell and Sigurd Varian of Stanford University are generally considered to be the inventors. Their prototype was completed in August 1937. [277]

1937 Cyclamate[list membership disputed]

  • Cyclamate is an artificial sweetener 30–50 times sweeter than sugar, making it the least potent of the commercially used artificial sweeteners. It was invented in 1937 by graduate student Michael Sveda at the University of Illinois. [278]

1938 Fiberglass

  • The technique of heating and drawing glass into fine fibers has been used for millennia. The use of these fibers for textile applications is more recent. The first commercial production of fiberglass was in 1936. In 1938, fiberglass was invented by Russell Games Slayter of Owens-Corning. [279]

1938 Nylon

  • A team of researchers working under Wallace H. Carothers at E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company invents a plastic that can be drawn into strong, silk-like fibers.[280] Nylon will soon become popular as a fabric for hosiery as well as industrial applications such as cordage.

1938 Teflon

  • In chemistry, polytetrafluoroethylene is a synthetic fluoropolymer which finds numerous applications. PTFE is most well known by the DuPont brand name Teflon. PTFE was accidentally invented by Roy Plunkett of Kinetic Chemicals in 1938. [281]

1938 Physiatry

  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation, or physiatry, is a branch of medicine which aims to enhance and restore functional ability and quality of life to those with physical impairments or disabilities. Frank H. Krusen is considered to be the founder of physiatry, developed in 1938. [282]

1939 VU meter

  • A VU meter is often included in analog circuit, audio equipment to display a signal level in Volume Units. It is intentionally a "slow" measurement, averaging out peaks and troughs of short duration to reflect the perceived loudness of the material. It was originally developed in 1939 by the combined effort of Bell Labs and broadcasters CBS and NBC for measuring and standardizing the levels of telephone lines. The instrument used to measure VU is called the volume indicator (VI) instrument. Most users ignore this and call it a VU meter.

World War II (1940–1945)

1940 Transuranium element

  • In chemistry, transuranium elements are the chemical elements with atomic numbers greater than 92. Edwin McMillan and Philip H. Abelson produced the first transuranic element in 1940 at the University of California, Berkeley. [283]

1940 Neptunium

  • A radioactive chemical element, neptunium is the first transuranium element and belongs to the actinide series. It was first produced by Edwin McMillan and Philip H. Abelson in the 1940 in Berkeley, California. [284]

1940 Plutonium

  • Plutonium is a rare, transuranium and radioactive element. It is an actinide metal of silvery-white appearance that tarnishes when exposed to air, forming a dull coating when oxidized. It was first synthesized in 1940 by a team led by Glenn T. Seaborg and Edwin McMillan at a University of California, Berkeley laboratory. [285]

1940 Blood bank

  • A blood bank is a cache or bank for blood or blood components, gathered as a result of blood donations which are stored and preserved for future uses in blood transfusions. In late 1940, just after earning his doctoral thesis, Charles R. Drew was called upon by physician John Scudder to help set up and administer an early prototype program for collecting, testing and distributing blood plasma in the UK known as "Blood for Britain", the first blood bank. [286]

1940 Fluxgate magnetometer

  • A fluxgate magnetometer measures the direction and magnitude of magnetic fields. Fluxgate magnetometer sensors are manufactured in several geometries and recently have made significant improvements in noise performance, crossfield tolerance and power utilization. It was invented by Victor Vacquier in 1940 while working for Gulf Research in Pittsburgh. [287]

1940 Person-centered psychotherapy

  • Person-Centered Therapy, also known as client-centered therapy or Rogerian Psychotherapy, was developed by the humanist psychologist Carl Rogers in 1940. It is one of the most widely used models in mental health and psychotherapy. The basic elements of Rogerian therapy involve showing congruence, empathy, and unconditional positive regard toward a client. Based on these elements the therapist creates a supportive, non-judgmental environment in which the client is encouraged to reach their full potential. [288]

1941 Deodorant

  • Deodorants are substances applied to the body to reduce body odor caused by the bacterial breakdown of perspiration. Jules Montenier holds a number of patents. Arguably, his January 28, 1941 patent for Astringent Preparation is his most famous.[289] This patent dealt with solving the problem of the excessive acidity of aluminum chloride, then and now the best working antiperspirant, by adding a soluble nitrile or a similar compound. This innovation found its way into "Stopette" deodorant spray, which Time Magazine called "the best-selling deodorant of the early 1950s".

1941 Acrylic fiber

  • Acrylic fibers are synthetic fibers made from a polymer Polyacrylonitrile with an average molecular weight of ~100,000, about 1900 monomer units. To be called acrylic in the U.S, the polymer must contain at least 85% acrylonitrile monomer. Typical comonomers are vinyl acetate or methyl acrylate. The Dupont Corporation created the first acrylic fibers in 1941 and trademarked them under the name "Orlon". [290]

1942 Ames process

  • The Ames process is a process to purify uranium ore. It can be achieved by mixing any of the uranium halides with calcium powder or aluminium powder. The Ames process was used on August 3, 1942 by a group of chemists led by Frank Spedding at the Ames Laboratory. [291]

1943 Artificial neuron

  • An artificial neuron is a mathematical function conceived as a crude model, or abstraction of biological neurons. The first artificial neuron was the Threshold Logic Unit (TLU) first proposed by Warren McCulloch and Walter Pitts in 1943. [292]

1943 Napalm

  • Napalm is the name given to any of a number of flammable liquids used in warfare, often jellied gasoline. Napalm is actually the thickener in such liquids, which when mixed with gasoline makes a sticky incendiary gel. Developed by the U.S. in World War II by a team of Harvard chemists led by Louis Fieser,[293] its name is a portmanteau of the names of its original ingredients, coprecipitated aluminium salts of naphthenic acid and palmitic acids. These were added to the flammable substance to cause it to gel.

1943 Yerkes spectral classification

  • The Yerkes spectral classification, also called the MKK system from the authors' initials, is a system of stellar spectral classification introduced in 1943 by William Wilson Morgan, Phillip C. Keenan and Edith Kellman from Yerkes Observatory.[294]

1944 Curium[list membership disputed]

  • A radioactive, metallic, transuranium element of the actinide series, curium is produced by bombarding plutonium with alpha particles. It was first synthesized at the University of California, Berkeley by Glenn T. Seaborg, Ralph A. James, and Albert Ghiorso in 1944.[295]

1944 Americium

  • A radioactive metallic element, americium is an actinide that was obtained in 1944 by bombarding plutonium with neutrons. It was the fourth transuranium element to be discovered. It was named for the Americas, by analogy with europium. Americium is widely used in commercial ionization-chamber smoke detectors as well as in neutron sources and industrial gauges. It was first isolated by Glenn T. Seaborg, Leon O. Morgan, Ralph A. James, and Albert Ghiorso at the Argonne National Laboratory.[296]

1945 Nuclear weapons

  • Weapons of mass destruction first tested at Trinity site and used weeks later on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Postwar and the Fifties(1946–1959)

1945 Cruise control

  • Cruise control automatically controls the rate of motion of a motor vehicle. The driver sets the speed and the system will take over the throttle of the car to maintain the same speed. Cruise control was invented in 1945 by a blind inventor and mechanical engineer named Ralph Teetor. His idea was born out of the frustration of riding in a car driven by his lawyer, who kept speeding up and slowing down as he talked. The first car with Teetor's system was the Chrysler Imperial in 1958. This system calculated ground speed based on driveshaft rotations and used a solenoid to vary throttle position as needed. [297]

1945 Microwave oven

  • A microwave oven cooks or heats food by dielectric heating. Cooking food with microwaves was discovered by Percy Spencer on October 8, 1945, while building magnetrons for radar sets at Raytheon.[298] He was working on an active radar set when he noticed a strange sensation, and saw that a peanut candy bar he had in his pocket started to melt. Although he was not the first to notice this phenomenon, as the holder of 120 patents, Spencer was no stranger to discovery and experiment, and realized what was happening. The radar had melted his candy bar with microwaves. The first food to be deliberately cooked with microwaves was popcorn, and the second was an egg.

1946 Cancer chemotherapy

  • Cancer chemotherapy can be traced directly to the discovery of nitrogen mustard, a chemical warfare agent, as an effective treatment for cancer. Two pharmacologists, Louis S. Goodman and Alfred Gilman were recruited by the United States Department of Defense to investigate potential therapeutic applications of chemical warfare agents. Autopsy observations of people exposed to mustard gas had revealed profound lymphoid and myeloid suppression. Goodman and Gilman reasoned that this agent could be used to treat lymphoma, since lymphoma is a tumor of lymphoid cells. They set up an animal model and established lymphomas in mice and demonstrated they could treat them with mustard agents. In collaboration with a thoracic surgeon, Gustav Linskog, they injected a related agent, mustine into a patient with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. They observed a dramatic reduction in the patient's tumour masses. Although this effect lasted only a few weeks, this was the first step to the realization that cancer could be treated by pharmacological agents. [299]

1946 DEET

  • N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, abbreviated DEET, is the most common active ingredient in insect repellents. It is intended to be applied to the skin or to clothing, and is primarily used to repel mosquitos. DEET was developed by the United States Army in 1946 following its experience of jungle warfare during World War II. [300]

1946 Proton therapy

  • Proton therapy utilizes a beam of protons to irradiate diseased tissue, most often in the treatment of cancer. The first suggestion that energetic protons could be an effective treatment method was made by Robert R. Wilson in a paper published in 1946 while he was involved in the design of the Harvard Cyclotron Laboratory (HCL). The first treatments were performed at particle accelerators built for physics research, notably Berkeley Radiation Laboratory in 1954 and at Uppsala in Sweden in 1957. [301]

1946 Cloud seeding

  • Cloud seeding, a form of weather modification, is the attempt to change the amount or type of precipitation that falls from clouds, by dispersing substances into the air that serve as cloud condensation or ice nuclei, which alter the microphysical processes within the cloud. The usual intent is to increase precipitation but hail and fog suppression are also widely practiced in airports. The method's use has ranged from increasing precipitation in areas experiencing drought to removing radioactive particles from clouds. It was invented by Vincent Schaefer in 1946. [302]

1947 Transistor

A replica of the first working transistor.

In electronics, a transistor is a semiconductor device commonly used to amplify or switch electronic signals. Because the controlled output power can be much larger than the controlling input power, the transistor provides amplification of a signal. The transistor is the fundamental building block of all modern electronic devices, and is used in radio, telephone, computer, and other electronic systems. On November 17, 1947 John Bardeen and Walter Brattain, at AT&T Bell Labs, observed that when electrical contacts were applied to a crystal of germanium, the output power was larger than the input. The American physicist and Nobel Prize winner, William Shockley, saw the potential in this and worked over the next few months greatly expanding the knowledge of semiconductors in order to construct the first transistor. Shockley is considered by many to be the "father" of the transistor.[303] Hence, in recognition of his work, the transistor is widely, yet not universally acknowledged as the most important invention of the entire 20th century since it forms today’s building blocks of processors found and used in almost every modern computing and electronics device. [304]

1947 Defibrillator

Defibrillation is the definitive treatment for the life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias, ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia. Defibrillation consists of delivering a therapeutic dose of electrical energy to the affected heart. Dr. Claude Beck developed the defibrillator in 1947. [305]

1947 Acrylic paint

  • Acrylic paint is fast-drying paint containing pigment suspended in an acrylic polymer emulsion. The first acrylic paint was developed by Leonard Bocour and Sam Golden in 1947 under the brand Magna paint. [306]

1947 Correction fluid

  • Correction fluid is an opaque, white fluid applied to paper to mask errors in text. It was very important when material was typed with a typewriter, but has become less so since the advent of the word processor. It was invented by Bette Nesmith Graham in 1951 and originally called by the brand name Mistake Out. [307]

1947 Mobile phone

The advent of wireless telephone communications

A mobile phone, or cell phone, is a long-range, electronic device used for mobile voice or data communication over a network of specialized base stations known as cell sites. Early mobile FM radio telephones were in use for many years, but since the number of radio frequencies were very limited in any area, the number of phone calls were also very limited. To solve this problem, there could be many small areas called cells which share the same frequencies. When users moved from one area to another while calling, the call would have to be switched over automatically without losing the call. In this system, a small number of radio frequencies could accommodate a huge number of calls. The basic network of hexagonal cells were devised by Douglas H. Ring and W. Rae Young at Bell Labs in 1947. Known as the "father of the cell phone," Martin Cooper invented the first handheld cellular/mobile phone in 1973. [308]

1947 Instant camera

The instant camera is a type of camera with self-developing film. In 1947, Edwin H. Land invented a new camera that produced photographic images in 60 seconds.[309] A colored photograph model would follow in the 1960s and eventually receive more than 500 patents for Land's innovations in light and plastic technologies.

1947 Supersonic aircraft

The Bell X-1

In aerodynamics, the sound barrier usually refers to the point at which an aircraft moves from transonic to supersonic speed. On October 14, 1947, just under a month after the United States Air Force had been created as a separate service, tests culminated in the first manned supersonic flight where the sound barrier was broken, piloted by Air Force Captain Chuck Yeager in the Bell X-1.[310] The rocket-powered aircraft was launched from the bomb bay of a specially modified B-29 and glided to a landing on a runway.

1948 Cybernetics

Cybernetics is the interdisciplinary study of the structure of regulatory systems. It is closely related to control theory and systems theory. Both in its origins and in its evolution in the second-half of the 20th century, cybernetics is equally applicable to physical and social (that is, language-based) systems. Cybernetics was developed by Norbert Wiener in 1948. [311]

1948 Hair spray

Hair spray is a beauty aqueous solution that is used to keep hair stiff or in a certain style. Weaker than hair gel, hair wax, or glue, it is sprayed to hold styles for a long period. Using a pump or aerosol spray nozzle, it sprays evenly over the hair. Hair spray was first developed and manufactured in 1948 by Chase Products Company, based in Broadview, Illinois.

1948 Windsurfing[list membership disputed]

Windsurfing in Maui

Windsurfing, or sailboarding, is a surface water sport using a windsurf board, also commonly called a sailboard, usually two to five meters long and powered by wind pushing a sail. In 1948, 20 year old Newman Darby first conceived of using a handheld sail and rig mounted on a universal joint, to control a small catamaran. Darby did not file for a patent for his design, however, he is regonized as the inventor of the first sailboard.[312] However, what is clear from the historical record is that windsurfing, as it is known today, owes much if not all to the promotion and marketing activities of Hoyle and Diana Schweitzer. In 1968, they founded the company Windsurfing International in Southern California to manufacture, promote and license a windsurfer design. Together with Jim Drake, an aerospace engineer at the RAND Corporation, they were the holders of the very first windsurfing patent ever, which was granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 1970, after being filed in 1968. [313]

1948 Cat litter[list membership disputed]

  • Cat litter is one of any of a number of materials used in litter boxes to absorb moisture from cat feces and urine, which reduces foul odors such as ammonia and renders them more tolerable within the home. One of the first commercially available cat litters was Kitty Litter, available in 1948 and invented by Ed Lowe.[314] This was the first large scale use of clay in litter boxes; previously sand was used.

1948 Video game

The video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device. The patent for a Cathode-Ray Tube Amusement Device was first filed on January 25, 1947 by Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann, and was issued on December 14, 1948.[315] Eight vacuum tubes were used to simulate a missile firing at a target, and the device featured knobs to adjust the curve and speed of the missile.

1948 Cable television

Cable television provides television to consumers via radio frequency signals transmitted to televisions through fixed optical fibers or coaxial cables as opposed to the over-the-air method used in traditional television broadcasting. First known as Community Antenna Television or CATV, cable television was born in the mountains of Pennsylvania in 1948 by John Walson and Margaret Walson. [316]

1948 Astrogeology

  • Planetary geology, also known as astrogeology or exogeology, is a planetary science discipline concerned with the geology of the celestial bodies such as the planets and their moons, asteroids, comets, and meteorites. The study of these rocks is similar to Earth-based geology. Eugene Shoemaker is credited with creating the Branch of Astrogeology in 1948 within the U.S. Geological Survey.[317]

1949 Berkelium

  • Berkelium is a radioactive metallic element in the actinide series which was synthesized by bombarding americium with alpha particles. Berkelium was the fifth transuranium element to be synthesized by Glenn T. Seaborg, Albert Ghiorso, Stanley G. Thompson, and Kenneth Street, Jr. at the University of California, Berkeley in December 1949. [318]

1949 Radiocarbon dating

  • Radiocarbon dating is a dating method that uses the naturally occurring radioisotope carbon-14 (14C) to determine the age of carbonaceous materials up to about 60,000 years. In 1949, Willard F. Libby invented the procedure for carbon-14 dating. [319]

1949 Ice resurfacer

  • An ice resurfacer is a truck-like vehicle used to clean and smooth the surface of an ice rink. Frank J. Zamboni invented the first ice resurfacer, which he called a Zamboni, in 1949 in Paramount, California. [320]

1949 Modacrylic[list membership disputed]

  • A modacrylic is a synthetic copolymer. They are soft, strong, resilient, and dimensionally stable. Commercial production of modacrylic fiber began in 1949 by Union Carbide Corporation in the United States. [321]

1949 Glottochronology

  • Glottochronology is an approach in historical linguistics for estimating the time at which languages diverged, based on the assumption that the basic vocabulary of a language changes at a constant average rate. This assumption, originally suggested by Morris Swadesh, is based on an analogy with the use of carbon dating for measuring the age of organic materials, in that a "lexical half-life" is estimated. [322]

1949 Holter monitor

  • A Holter monitor is a portable device for continuously monitoring the electrical activity of the heart for 24 hours or more. It was invented by Norman Holter in 1949. [323]

1949 Atomic clock

  • An atomic clock uses an atomic resonance frequency standard as its timekeeping element. The first atomic clock was an ammonia maser device built in 1949 at the United States National Bureau of Standards.[324] It was less accurate than existing quartz clocks, but served to demonstrate the concept.

1950 Californium

  • Californium is a radioactive transuranic element which can be used to start nuclear reactors, optimize coal-fired power plants, cement production facilities, facilitate medical treatment of cancer, and support oil exploration via down hole well logging. It was first produced by bombarding curium with alpha particles. Californium was the sixth transuranic element to be synthesized at the University of California, Berkeley by researchers Stanley G. Thompson, Kenneth Street, Jr., Albert Ghiorso and Glenn T. Seaborg in 1950. [325]

1950 Credit card

  • A credit card is part of a system of payments named after the small plastic card issued to users of the system. The issuer of the card grants a line of credit to the consumer from which the user can borrow money for payment to a merchant or as a cash advance to the user. The concept of paying different merchants using the same card was invented in 1950 by Ralph Schneider and Frank X. McNamara, founders of Diners Club, to consolidate multiple cards.[326] The Diners Club, which was created partially through a merger with Dine and Sign, produced the first "general purpose" charge card, and required the entire bill to be paid with each statement.

1950 Disposable diaper

  • A diaper or nappy is an absorbent garment for incontinent people. The disposable diaper was invented in 1950 by Marion Donovan.[327] Her first leak-proof diaper was a plastic-lined cloth diaper. Donovan then developed a disposable diaper. She was unsuccessful at selling her invention to established manufacturers, so she started her own company.

1950 Sengstaken-Blakemore tube[list membership disputed]

  • A Sengstaken-Blakemore tube is an oro- or nasogastric tube used occasionally in the management of upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage due to bleeding from esophageal varices which are distended veins in the esophageal wall, usually as a result of cirrhosis. It was invented by Dr. Robert W. Sengstaken and Dr. Arthur H. Blakemore in 1950.

1951 Golf cart

  • A golf cart or golf buggy is a small vehicle designed originally to carry two golfers and their golf clubs around a golf course. The golf cart was invented by Merle Williams of Long Beach, California. [328]

1951 UBV photometric system

  • The UBV photometric system, also called the Johnson system, is a wide band photometric system for classifying stars according to their colors. It is first known standardized photoelectric photometric system. The letters U, B, and V stand for ultraviolet, blue, and visual magnitudes, which are measured for a star in order to classify it in the UBV system. It was developed in 1951 by American astronomers Harold Lester Johnson and William Wilson Morgan. [329]

1952 Compiler

  • A compiler is transforms source code written in a computer language (the source language) into a lower level computer language. The most common reason for wanting to transform source code is to create an executable program. The first compiler was written by Grace Hopper, in 1952, for the A-0 programming language. [330]

1952 Einsteinium

  • Einsteinium is a metallic synthetic element. It is the seventh transuranium element, and seventh in the series of actinoids. Named in honor of Albert Einstein, einsteinium was first discovered by Albert Ghiorso along with co-workers at the University of California, Berkeley. [331]

1952 Fermium

  • As a highly radioactive, metallic, transuranium element of the actinide series, fermium is made by bombarding plutonium with neutrons. Named after nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi, fermium is the eighth transuranic element that was first discovered by a team led by Albert Ghiorso in 1952. [332]

1952 Polyoxymethylene plastic

  • Polyoxymethylene (POM), in the United States also commonly known under DuPont's brand name Delrin, is an engineering plastic. Delrin was first synthesized by DuPont's research chemists around 1952. [333]

1952 Phencyclidine

  • Phencyclidine, also known as PCP, is a dissociative drug formerly used as an anesthetic agent, exhibiting hallucinogenic and neurotoxic effects. It was developed in 1952 by Parke-Davis. [334]

1952 Barcode

A UPC-A barcode symbol

The barcode is an optical machine-readable representation of data. Norman Joseph Woodland is best known for developing the barcode for which he received a patent in October 1952.[335] The Universal Product Code, invented by George Laurer at IBM, was used on a marked item scanned at a retail checkout, Marsh's supermarket in Troy, Ohio, at 8:01 a.m. on June 26, 1974. [336]

1952 Artificial heart

An artificial heart is implanted into the body to replace the biological heart. On July 3, 1952, 41-year-old Henry Opitek suffering from shortness of breath made medical history at Harper University Hospital at Wayne State University in Michigan. The Dodrill-GMR heart machine, considered to be the first operational mechanical heart was successfully inserted by Dr. Forest Dewey Dodrill into Henry Opitek while performing heart surgery.[337] In 1981, Robert Jarvik implanted the world's first permanent artificial heart,[338] the Jarvik 7, into Dr. Barney Clark. The heart, powered by an external compressor, kept Clark alive for 112 days. The Jarvik heart was not banned for permanent use. Since 1982, more than 350 people have received the Jarvik heart as a bridge to transplantation. [339]

1953 Heart-lung machine

  • Dr. John Heysham Gibbon performed the first successful open heart surgery in which the blood was artificially circulated and oxygenated by using his heart-lung machine.[340] This new technology, which allowed the surgeon to operate on a dry and motionless heart, greatly increased surgical treatment options for heart defects and disease.

1953 Marker pen[list membership disputed]

  • A marker pen, marking pen, felt-tip pen, or marker, is a pen which has its own colored ink-source, and usually a tip made of a porous material, such as felt or nylon. Sidney Rosenthal, from Richmond Hill, New York, is credited with inventing the marker in 1953. [341]

1953 Apgar scale

  • The Apgar scale is used to determine the physical status of an infant at birth. This simple, easy-to-perform test was devised in 1953 by Dr. Virginia Apgar, a professor of anesthesia at the New York Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.[342] The Apgar scale is administered to a newborn at one minute after birth and five minutes after birth. It scores the baby's heart rate, respiration, muscle tone, reflex response, and color. This test quickly alerts medical personnel that the newborn needs assistance.

1953 Wiffle ball[list membership disputed]

  • Wiffleball is a variation of the sport of baseball designed for indoor or outdoor play in confined areas. The game is played using a perforated, light-weight, rubbery plastic ball and a long, plastic and typically a yellow bat. The Wiffle ball was invented by David N. Mullany of Fairfield, Connecticut in 1953 when he designed a ball that curved easily for his 12-year old son. It was named when his son and his friends would refer to a strikeout as a "whiff". [343]

1953 MASER

  • A maser is produces coherent electromagnetic waves through amplification due to stimulated emission. Historically the term came from the acronym "Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation". Charles H. Townes, J. P. Gordon, and H. J. Zeiger built the first maser at Columbia University in 1953. [344]

1953 TV dinner

  • A TV dinner is a prepackaged, frozen or chilled meal generally in an individual package. It requires little preparation, oven baked or microwaveable, and contains all the elements for a single-serving meal in a tray with compartments for the food. Carl A. Swanson of C.A. Swanson & Sons is generally credited for inventing the TV dinner. Retired Swanson executive Gerry Thomas said he conceived the idea after the company found itself with a huge surplus of frozen turkeys because of poor Thanksgiving sales.[345] In 1953, a Swanson TV dinner cost 98 cents.

1953 Carbonless copy paper

  • Carbonless copy paper is an alternative to carbon paper, used to make a copy of an original, handwritten document without the use of any electronics. The process was invented by chemists Lowell Schleicher and Barry Green, working for the NCR Corporation, as a biodegradable, stain-free alternative to carbon paper. [346]

1953 Crossed-field amplifier

  • A crossed-field amplifier (CFA) is a specialized vacuum tube frequently used as a microwave amplifier in very-high-power transmitters. A CFA has lower gain and bandwidth than other microwave amplifier tubes, but it is more efficient and capable of much higher output power. William C. Brown is considered to have invented the first crossed-field amplifier in 1953 which he called an Amplitron. [347]

1953 Adaptive optics

  • Adaptive optics is a technology used to improve the performance of optical systems by reducing the effects of rapidly changing optical distortion. It is used in astronomical telescopes and laser communication systems to remove the effects of atmospheric distortion, and in retinal imaging systems to reduce the impact of ocular aberrations. Its use was first proposed by Horace W. Babcock in 1953. [348]

1954 Argon oxygen decarburization

  • Argon oxygen decarburization (AOD) is a process primarily used in stainless steel making and other high grade alloys with oxidizable elements such as chromium, and aluminum. After initial melting the metal is then transferred to an AOD vessel where it will be subjected to three steps of refining such as such as decarburization, chemical reduction, and desulphurization. AOD was invented in 1954 by Praxair. [349]

1954 Automatic sliding doors

  • Automatic doors are powered open and closed either by power, spring, or by a sensor. Automatic sliding doors are commonly found at entrance and exits of supermarkets, department stores, and airport terminals. In 1954, Dee Horton and Lew Hewitt invented the automatic sliding door. [350]

1954 Cardiopulmonary resuscitation

  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is an important life saving first aid skill, practiced throughout the world. It is the only known effective method of keeping someone who has suffered cardiac arrest alive long enough for definitive treatment to be delivered. In 1954, James Elam was the first to demonstrate experimentally that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was a sound technique, and together with Dr. Peter Safar he demonstrated its superiority to previous methods. [351]

1954 Radar gun

  • A radar gun or speed gun is a small Doppler radar used to detect the speed of objects. It relies on the Doppler Effect applied to a radar beam to measure the speed of objects at which it is pointed. Radar guns may be hand-held or vehicle-mounted. Bryce K. Brown created the radar gun in March 1954. [352]

1955 Cultural ecology[list membership disputed]

  • Cultural ecology studies the relationship between a given society and its natural environment, the life-forms and ecosystems that support its lifeways. It was developed by US anthropologist Julian Steward in 1955 when he published book "Theory of Culture Change; The Methodology of Multilinear Evolution" which outlined his views on how a physical environment affects a culture and its people. [353]

1955 Crosby-Kugler capsule

  • A Crosby-Kugler capsule is a device used for obtaining biopsies of small bowel mucosa, necessary for the diagnosis of various small bowel diseases. It was invented by Dr. William Holmes Crosby, Jr. in 1955. [354]

1955 Mendelevium

  • As a metallic radioactive transuranium element of the actinides, mendelevium is synthesized by bombarding einsteinium with alpha particles and was named after Dmitri Mendeleev, who was responsible for the Periodic Table. Mendelevium was first synthesized by Albert Ghiorso, Glenn T. Seaborg, Bernard Harvey, Greg Choppin, and Stanley G. Thompson in early 1955 at the University of California, Berkeley. [355]

1955 Nuclear submarine

  • The U.S.S. Nautilus (SNN 571), the first nuclear submarine, revolutionized naval warfare. Conventional submarines need two engines: a diesel engine to travel on the surface and an electric engine to travel submerged, where oxygen for a diesel engine is not available. The Nautilus, the first nuclear sub, traveled thousands of miles below the surface with a single fuel charge. Hyman Rickover can be credited for the development of the world's first nuclear submarine. [356]

1955 Polio vaccine

  • Vaccination works by priming the immune system with an 'immunogen'. Stimulating immune response, via use of an infectious agent, is known as immunization. The development of immunity to polio efficiently blocks person-to-person transmission of wild poliovirus, thereby protecting both individual vaccine recipients and the wider community. Dr. Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine using strains of polio too weak to cause infection but strong enough to activate the human immune system. [357]

1955 Hard disk drive

  • A hard disk drive, or hard drive, hard disk, or fixed disk drive, is a non-volatile storage device which stores digitally encoded data on rapidly rotating platters with magnetic surfaces. The hard disk drive was invented by Reynold Johnson and commercially introduced in 1956 with the IBM 305 RAMAC computer. [358]

1956 Kart racing

Go-karts on a speedway

Kart racing or karting is a variant of an open-wheel motor sport with simple, small four-wheeled vehicles called karts, go-karts, or gearbox karts depending on the design. Karts vary widely in speed and some can reach speeds exceeding 160 mph, while go-karts intended for the general public in amusement parks may be limited to speeds of no more than 15 mph. In the summer of 1956, hot rod veteran Art Ingels built the first go-kart out of old car frame tubing, welding beads, and a lawnmower motor, not realizing that he had invented a new sport and form of auto racing.[359] Race formats consist of Sprint, Endurance, and Speedway, each regulated and administered by their own respective governing body such as the International Kart Federation and the World Karting Association.

1956 Bone marrow transplantation

Stem cell transplantation was pioneered using bone-marrow-derived stem cells by a team at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center from the 1950s through the 1970s. The first successful bone marrow transplantation was for a cancer patient and was performed by E. Donnall Thomas in 1956.[360]

1956 Industrial robot

  • An industrial robot is officially defined by ISO as an automatically controlled, re-programmable, multipurpose manipulator programmable in three or more axes. George Devol applied for the first robotics patents in 1954. The first company to produce a robot was Unimation, founded by George Devol and Joseph F. Engelberger in 1956, and was based on Devol's original patents. [361]

1956 Fortran

  • Fortran is a general-purpose, procedural, and imperative programming language that is especially suited to numeric computation and scientific computing. Fortran came to dominate this area of programming early on and has been in continual use for over half a century in computationally intensive areas such as numerical weather prediction, finite element analysis, computational fluid dynamics (CFD), computational physics, and computational chemistry. It is one of the most popular languages in the area of High-performance computing and programs to benchmark and rank the world's fastest supercomputers are written in Fortran. In 1956, John Backus and a team of researchers at IBM developed the Fortran programming language for the IBM 704 mainframe computer. [362]

1956 Videotape

  • Videotape is a means of recording images and sound onto magnetic tape as opposed to movie film. The first practical professional videotape machines were the Quadruplex machines introduced by Ampex on April 14, 1956. Invented by Charles Ginsburg and Ray Dolby, Quad employed a transverse four-head system on a two-inch (5.08 cm) tape, and linear heads for the soundtrack. [363]

1956 Particle storage ring[list membership disputed]

  • A storage ring is a type of circular particle accelerator in which a continuous or pulsed particle beam may be kept circulating for a long period of time, up to many hours. Gerard K. O'Neill invented the first particle storage ring in 1956. [364]

1957 Laser

An experiment with a laser

A laser is a device that emits electromagnetic radiation through a process called stimulated emission. Laser light is usually spatially coherent, which means that the light either is emitted in a narrow, low-divergence beam, or can be converted into one with the help of optical components such as lenses. In 1957, American physicist Gordon Gould first theorized the idea and use of laser technology. Despite a 35 year battle with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Gould is now widely, yet not universally known as the original inventor of laser.[365] However, Gould never developed or produced the first working laser. While working at Hughes Research Laboratories, physicist Theodore H. Maiman created the first laser in 1960.[366] The core of his laser consisted of a man-made ruby, a material that had been judged unsuitable by other scientists who rejected crystal cores in favor of various gases.

1957 Confocal microscopy

Confocal microscopy is an optical imaging technique used to increase micrograph contrast and to reconstruct three-dimensional images by using a spatial pinhole to eliminate out-of-focus light or flare in specimens that are thicker than the focal plane. This technique has gained popularity in the scientific and industrial communities. Typical applications include life sciences and semiconductor inspection. The principle of confocal imaging was patented by Marvin Minsky in 1957. [367]

1957 Borazon

  • Borazon, a boron nitride allotrope, is the fourth hardest substance, after aggregated diamond nanorods, ultrahard fullerite, and diamond, and the third hardest artificial material. Borazon is a crystal created by heating equal quantities of boron and nitrogen at temperatures greater than 1800 °celsius, 3300 °Fahrenheit at 7 gigapascal 1 millionpound-force per square inch. Borazon was first produced in 1957 by Robert H. Wentorf, Jr., a physical chemist working for the General Electric Company. In 1969, General Electric adopted the name Borazon as its trademark for the crystal. [368]

1957 Gamma camera

  • A gamma camera is a device used to image gamma radiation emitting radioisotopes, a technique known as scintigraphy. The applications of scintigraphy include early drug development and nuclear medical imaging to view and analyse images of the human body of the distribution of medically injected, inhaled, or ingested radionuclides emitting gamma rays. It was invented by Hal Anger in 1957. [369]

1957 Cryotron[list membership disputed]

  • The cryotron is a switch that operates using superconductivity. The cryotron works on the principle that magnetic fields destroy superconductivity. It was invented by Dudley Buck in 1957. [370]

1958 Lisp programming language

  • Lisp is a family of computer programming languages with a long history and a distinctive, fully parenthesized syntax. Originally specified in 1958, Lisp is the second-oldest high-level programming language in widespread use today where Fortran is the oldest. It was invented by John McCarthy in 1958. [371]

1958 Carbon fiber

  • Carbon fiber or is a material consisting of extremely thin fibers about 0.005–0.010 mm in diameter and composed mostly of carbon atoms. In 1958, Dr. Roger Bacon created the first high-performance carbon fibers at the Union Carbide Parma Technical Center, located outside of Cleveland, Ohio. [372]

1958 Integrated circuit

The integrated circuit

An integrated circuit is a miniaturized electronic circuit that has been manufactured in the surface of a thin substrate of semiconductor material. Integrated circuits are used in almost all electronic equipment in use today and have revolutionized the world of electronics. The integration of large numbers of tiny transistors into a small chip was an enormous improvement over the manual assembly of circuits using discrete electronic components. On September 12, 1958, Jack Kilby developed a piece of germanium with an oscilloscope attached. While pressing a switch, the oscilloscope showed a continuous sine wave, proving that his integrated circuit worked. A patent for a "Solid Circuit made of Germanium", the first integrated circuit, was filed by its inventor, Jack Kilby on February 6, 1959. [373]

1959 Fusor[list membership disputed]

The fusor is an apparatus invented by Philo T. Farnsworth to create nuclear fusion.[374] Unlike most controlled fusion systems, which slowly heat a magnetically confined plasma, the fusor injects "high temperature" ions directly into a reaction chamber, thereby avoiding a considerable amount of complexity. The approach is known as inertial electrostatic confinement.

1959 Radioimmunoassay

  • Radioimmunoassay is a scientific method used to test antigens without the need to use a bioassay. It was developed by Rosalyn Yalow and Solomon Berson in 1959. [375]

1959 Weather satellite

  • A weather satellite is a type of satellite that is primarily used to monitor the weather and climate of the Earth. The first weather satellite, Vanguard 2, was launched on February 17, 1959, although the first weather satellite to be considered a success was TIROS-1, launched by NASA on April 1, 1960. [376]

1959 Zone melting

  • Zone melting is a method of separation by melting in which a molten zone traverses a long ingot of impure metal or chemical. In its common use for purification, the molten region melts impure solid at its forward edge and leaves a wake of purer material solidified behind it as it moves through the ingot. The impurities concentrate in the melt, and are moved to one end of the ingot. It was developed by William Gardner Pfann at Bell Labs in 1959.[377] as a method to prepare high purity materials for manufacturing transistors.

1959 Spandex

  • Spandex is a synthetic fiber known for its exceptional elasticity. It is stronger and more durable than rubber, its major non-synthetic competitor. It was invented in 1959 by DuPont chemist Joseph Shivers. [378]

The Sixties (1960–1969)

1960 Satellite navigation system

  • Satellite navigation systems provide autonomous geo-spatial positioning with global coverage. A GNSS allows small electronic receivers to determine their location such as longitude, latitude, and altitude to within a few meters using time signals transmitted along a line of sight by radio from satellites. Receivers on the ground with a fixed position can also be used to calculate the precise time as a reference for scientific experiments. The first such system was Transit, developed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory under the leadership of Richard Kershner. Development of the system for the U.S. Navy began in 1958, and a prototype satellite, Transit 1A, was launched in September 1959. That satellite failed to reach orbit. A second satellite, Transit 1B, was successfully launched April 13, 1960 by a Thor-Ablestar rocket. The last Transit satellite launch was in August 1988.[379] The Global Positioning System, launched in 1993, is the successor to Transit.

1960 Combined oral contraceptive pill

  • The Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill, or birth-control pill, or simply "the Pill", is a combination of an estrogen and a progestin taken by mouth to inhibit normal female fertility. On May 9, 1960, the FDA announced it would approve Enovid 10 mg for contraceptive use. By time Enovid 10 mg had been in general use for three years, at least half a million women had used it. Edris Rice-Wray invented the combined oral contraceptive pill. [380]

1960 Obsidian hydration dating[list membership disputed]

  • Obsidian hydration dating is a geochemical method of determining age in either absolute or relative terms of an artifact made of obsidian. It was introduced in 1960 by Irving Friedman and Robert Smith of the United States Geological Survey. [381]

1960 Gas laser

  • A gas laser is a laser in which an electric current is discharged through a gas to produce light. The first gas laser, the Helium-neon, was invented by William R. Bennett, Don Herriott and Ali Javan in 1960. [382]

1961 Wearable computer

  • Wearable computers are computers which can be worn on the body. Wearable computers are especially useful for applications that require computational support while the user's hands, voice, eyes or attention are actively engaged with the physical environment. The wearable computer was first conceived by American mathematician Edward O. Thorpe in 1955 and co-invented with American electronic engineer Claude Shannon. [383]

1961 Biofeedback

  • Biofeedback is a form of alternative medicine that involves measuring a subject's quantifiable bodily functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, skin temperature, sweat gland activity, and muscle tension, conveying the information to the patient in real-time. This raises the patient's awareness and conscious control of his or her unconscious physiological activities. Neal Miller is generally considered the father of modern-day biofeedback. Miller discovered the basic principles of biofeedback by applying his theory that classical and operant conditioning were both the result of a common learning principle in 1961. Miller hypothesized that any measurable physiological behavior within the human body would respond in some way to voluntary control. [384]

1961 Lawrencium

  • Lawrencium is radioactive synthetic element created by Albert Ghiorso, Torbjørn Sikkeland, Almon Larsh, and Robert M. Latimer on February 14, 1961 at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, now known as the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.

1962 Communications satellite

  • A communications satellite is an artificial satellite stationed in space for the purposes of telecommunications. Modern communications satellites use a variety of orbits. For fixed point-to-point services, communications satellites provide a microwave radio relay technology complementary to that of submarine communication cables. Invented in 1962 by the American aerospace engineer John Robinson Pierce, NASA launched Telstar, the world's first active communications satellite, and the first satellite designed to transmit telephone and high-speed data communications. Its name is still used to this day for a number of television broadcasting satellites. [385]

1962 Light-emitting diode

Blue, green, and red LEDs can be combined to produce most perceptible colors, including white.

A light-emitting-diode (LED) is a semiconductor diode that emits light when an electric current is applied in the forward direction of the device, as in the simple LED circuit. The effect is a form of electroluminescence where incoherent and narrow-spectrum light is emitted from the p-n junction in a solid state material. The first visible-spectrum LED was invented in 1962 by Nick Holonyak Jr. [386]

1962 Electret microphone

An electret microphone is a type of condenser microphone, which eliminates the need for a power supply by using a permanently-charged material. Electret materials have been known since the 1920s, and were proposed as condenser microphone elements several times, but were considered impractical until the foil electret type was invented at Bell Laboratories in 1962 by Jim West,[387] using a thin metallized Teflon foil. This became the most common type, used in many applications from high-quality recording and lavalier use to built-in microphones in small sound recording devices and telephones.

1962 Jet injector

A jet injector is a type of medical injecting syringe that uses a high-pressure narrow jet of the injection liquid instead of a hypodermic needle to penetrate the epidermis. It was invented by Aaron Ismach in 1962. [388]

1962 Ketamine[list membership disputed]

  • Ketamine is a drug used in human and veterinary medicine. It was developed by Parke-Davis in 1962. [389]

1962 Glucose meter

  • A glucose meter is a medical device for determining the approximate concentration of glucose in the blood. The first glucose meter was invented by Leland Clark and Ann Lyons at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital which was first known as a glucose enzyme electrode. The sensor worked by measuring the amount of oxygen consumed by the enzyme. [390]

1962 Single photon emission computed tomography

  • Single photon emission computed tomography is a nuclear medicine tomographic imaging technique using gamma rays. It is similar to conventional nuclear medicine planar imaging using a gamma camera. It is able to provide true 3D information. This information is typically presented as cross-sectional slices through the patient, but can be freely reformatted or manipulated as required. David Kuhl and Roy Edwards introduced the concept in 1962. [375]

1963 Computer mouse

The first computer mouse

In computing, a mouse is a pointing device that functions by detecting two-dimensional motion relative to its supporting surface. The mouse's motion typically translates into the motion of a pointer on a display, which allows for fine control of a Graphical User Interface. Douglas Engelbart invented the computer mouse at the Stanford Research Institute in 1963. [391]

1963 Lung transplantation

Lung transplantation is a surgical procedure in which a patient's diseased lungs are partially or totally replaced by lungs which come from a donor. Lung transplantation is the therapeutic measure of last resort for patients with end-stage lung disease who have exhausted all other available treatments without improvement. A variety of conditions may make such surgery necessary. Dr. James Hardy of the University of Mississippi Medical Center performed the first human lung transplant, the left lung, in 1963. [392]

1963 BASIC

  • In computer programming, BASIC is a family of high-level programming languages. The original BASIC was designed in 1963 by John George Kemeny and Thomas Eugene Kurtz at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire to provide computer access to non-science students.[393] At the time, nearly all use of computers required writing custom software, which was something only scientists and mathematicians tended to be able to do. The language and its variants became widespread on microcomputers in the late 1970s and 1980s.

1963 Balloon catheter

  • A balloon catheter is a type of "soft" catheter with an inflatable "balloon" at its tip which is used during a catheterization procedure to enlarge a narrow opening or passage within the body. The deflated balloon catheter is positioned, then inflated to perform the necessary procedure, and deflated again in order to be removed. A common use includes angioplasty. In 1963, Dr. Thomas Fogarty invented and patented the balloon catheter. [394]

1963 Neutron bomb

  • A neutron bomb, technically referred to as an enhanced radiation weapon, is a type of tactical nuclear weapon formerly built mainly by the United States specifically to release a large portion of its energy as energetic neutron radiation. Samuel Cohen is credited with its conception and its testing was authorized and carried out in 1963 at an underground Nevada test facility. [395]

1964 Satellite laser ranging

  • In satellite laser ranging a global network of observation stations measure the round trip time of flight of ultrashort pulses of light to satellites equipped with retroreflectors. This provides instantaneous range measurements of millimeter level precision which can be accumulated to provide accurate measurement of orbits and a host of important scientific data. Laser ranging to a near-Earth satellite was first carried out by NASA in 1964 with the launch of the Beacon-B satellite. [396]

1964 Plasma display

  • A plasma display panel is a flat panel display common to large TV displays. Many tiny cells between two panels of glass hold an inert mixture of noble gases. The gas in the cells is electrically turned into a plasma which then excites phosphors to emit light. The monochrome plasma video display was co-invented in 1964 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign by Donald Bitzer, H. Gene Slottow, and graduate student Robert Willson for the PLATO Computer System. [397]

1964 8-track cartridge[list membership disputed]

  • Stereo 8, commonly known as the eight-track cartridge or eight-track, is a magnetic tape sound recording technology. In 1964, William Lear invented the eight-track, which went on to become the most popular musical medium from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s. [398]

1964 Heart transplantation

  • Heart transplantation or cardiac transplantation, is a surgical transplant procedure performed on patients with end-stage heart failure or severe coronary artery disease. The most common procedure is to take a working heart from a recently deceased organ donor and implant it into the patient. The patient's own heart may either be removed or, less commonly, left in to support the donor heart. It is also possible to take a heart from another speciesor implant or a man-made artificial heart. The first heart transplanted into a human occurred in 1964 at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi when a team led by Dr. James Hardy transplanted a chimpanzee heart into a dying patient. [392]

1964 Artificial turf

  • Artificial turf, or synthetic turf, is a man-made surface made to look like natural grass. It is most often used in arenas for sports that were originally or are normally played on grass. David Chaney, who moved to Raleigh, North Carolina in 1960 and later served as dean of the North Carolina State University College of Textiles, headed the team of RTP researchers who created the famous artificial turf. Artificial turf was co-invented in 1964 by James M. Faria and Robert T. Wright,[399] employees of Monsanto Company. Widely known as Astroturf, it was invented in 1964 by James M. Faria and Robert T. Wright and patented in 1967, originally sold under the name "Chemgrass".

1964 Carbon dioxide laser

  • The carbon dioxide laser was one of the earliest gas lasers to be developed and is still one of the most useful. It was invented by C. Kumar N. Patel of Bell Labs in 1964. [400]

1964 Liquid crystal display Dynamic Scattering Mode

  • A liquid crystal display (LCD) is an electronically-modulated optical device shaped into a thin, flat panel made up of any number of color or monochrome pixels filled with liquid crystals and arrayed in front of a light source or reflector. In 1964, George H. Heilmeier invented the dynamic scattering mode found in liquid crystal displays, wherein an electrical charge is applied which rearranges the molecules so that they scatter light. [401]

1964 SQUID

  • Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices are very sensitive magnetometers used to measure extremely small magnetic fields based on superconducting loops containing Josephson junctions. The DC SQUID was invented in 1964 by Arnold Silver, Robert Jaklevic, John Lambe, and James Mercereau of Ford Research Labs. [402]

1964 Argon laser

  • The argon laser is one of a family of ion lasers that use a noble gas as the active medium. It was invented by William Bridges in 1964. [403]

1965 Snowboarding

Snowboarders at a ski resort

Snowboarding is a sport that involves descending a slope that is either partially or fully covered with snow on a snowboard attached to a rider's feet using a special boot set into a mounted binding. The development of snowboarding was inspired by skateboarding, surfing and skiing. The first snowboard, the Snurfer, was invented by Sherman Poppen in 1965. Snowboarding became an Winter Olympic Sport in 1998. [404]

1965 Kevlar

Kevlar is the registered trademark for a light, strong para-aramid synthetic fiber. Typically it is spun into ropes or fabric sheets that can be used as such or as an ingredient in composite material components. Currently, Kevlar has many applications, ranging from bicycle tires and racing sails to body armor because of its high strength-to-weight ratio. Developed at DuPont in 1965 by Stephanie Kwolek, it was first commercially used in the early 1970s as a replacement for steel in racing tires. [405]

1965 Hypertext

Hypertext most often refers to text on a computer that will lead the user to other, related information on demand. It is a relatively recent innovation to user interfaces, which overcomes some of the limitations of written text. Rather than remaining static like traditional text, hypertext makes possible a dynamic organization of information through links and connections called hyperlinks. Ted Nelson coined the words "hypertext" and "hypermedia" in 1965 and developed the Hypertext Editing System in 1968 at Brown University. [406]

1965 Cordless telephone

  • A cordless telephone is a telephone with a wireless handset that communicates via radio waves with a base station connected to a fixed telephone line, usually within a limited range of its base station. The base station is on the subscriber premises, and attaches to the telephone network the same way a corded telephone does. In 1965, an American woman named Teri Pall invented the cordless telephone.[407] Due to difficulties of marketing, Pall never patented her invention. George Sweigert of Euclid, Ohio had more success, thus receiving a patent for the cordless telephone in 1969.

1965 Minicomputer[list membership disputed]

  • A minicomputer is a class of multi-user computers that lies in the middle range of the computing spectrum, in between the largest multi-user systems and the smallest single-user systems. Wesley A. Clark and Charles Molnar invent the PDP-8, the world's first minicomputer, using integrated circuit technology.[408] Because of its relatively small size and its low $18,000 price tag, Digital Equipment sells several hundred units.

1965 Compact disc

The compact disc

The Compact Disc, or CD, is an optical disc used to store digital data, originally developed for storing digital audio. While working at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, James Russell invented the underlying principles of the compact disc,[409] later presenting and selling the rights to companies such as Sony and Philips. As of July 2007, Russell currently holds 54 legal patents relating to his inventions in optical recording and playback.

1965 Polysulfone

Polysulfone describes a family of thermoplastic polymers. These polymers are known for their toughness and stability at high temperatures. They contain the subunit aryl-SO2-aryl, the defining feature of which is the sulfone group. Polysulfones were introduced in 1965 by Union Carbide. [410]

1965 Chemical laser

A chemical laser is a laser that obtains its energy from a chemical reaction. Chemical lasers can achieve continuous wave output with power reaching to megawatt levels. They are used in industry for cutting and drilling, and in military as directed-energy weapons. The first chemical laser was invented by Jerome V. V. Kasper and George C. Pimentel in 1965. [411]

1966 Dynamic random access memory

Dynamic random access memory is a type of random access memory that stores each bit of data in a separate capacitor within an integrated circuit. Since real capacitors leak charge, the information eventually fades unless the capacitor charge is refreshed periodically. Because of this refresh requirement, it is a dynamic memory as opposed to static random access memory and other static memory. In 1966 DRAM was invented by Dr. Robert Dennard at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center. [412]

1966 Atrial septostomy

  • Atrial septostomy is a surgical procedure in which a small hole is created between the upper two chambers of the heart, the atria. This procedure is primarily used to treat dextro-Transposition of the great arteries or d-TGA, a life-threatening cyanotic congenital heart defect seen in infants. This technique was developed in 1966 by American surgeons William Rashkind and William Miller at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. [413]

1967 Island biogeography

  • Island biogeography is attempts to establish and explain the factors that affect the species richness of natural communities. The theory was developed to explain species richness of actual islands. The field was started in the 1967 by the ecologists Robert MacArthur and E.O. Wilson, who coined the term theory of island biogeography, as this theory attempted to predict the number of species that would exist on a newly created island.[414]

1967 Food bank[list membership disputed]

  • A food bank is a non-profit organization which distributes non-perishable goods and perishable food items to non-profit agencies involved in local emergency food programs. The first food bank was St. Mary's Food Bank started in 1967 in Phoenix, Arizona. [415]

1967 Airbag

  • An airbag is a vehicle safety device. It is an occupant restraint consisting of a flexible envelope designed to inflate rapidly in an automobile collision, to prevent vehicle occupants from striking hard interior objects such as steering wheels. An American inventor, Dr. David S. Breed, invented and developed a key component for automotive use: the ball-in-tube inertial sensor for crash detection.[416] Breed Corporation then marketed this innovation first in 1967 to Chrysler.

1967 Hand-held calculator

  • Invented by Jack Kilby,[417] the hand held calculator is a device for performing mathematical calculations, distinguished from a computer by having a limited problem solving ability and an interface optimized for interactive calculation rather than programming. Calculators can be hardware or software, and mechanical or electronic, and are often built into devices such as PDAs or mobile phones.

1968 Lunar Module

Apollo Lunar Module

The Apollo Lunar Module was the lander portion of the Apollo spacecraft built for the Apollo program by Grumman to achieve the transit from cislunar orbit to the surface and back. The module was also known as the LM from the manufacturer designation. Tom Kelly as a project engineer at Grumman, successfully designed and built the first Apollo Lunar Module.[418] NASA achieved the first test flight on January 22, 1968 using a Saturn V rocket. Six successful missions carried twelve astronauts, the first being Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, to the moon surface and safely back home to earth.

1968 Virtual reality

Virtual reality (VR) is a technology which allows a user to interact with a computer-simulated environment. Most current virtual reality environments are primarily visual experiences, displayed either on a computer screen or through special or stereoscopic displays, but some simulations include additional sensory information, such as sound through speakers or headphones. In 1968, Ivan Sutherland, with the help of his student Bob Sproull, created what is widely considered to be the first virtual reality and augmented reality (AR) head mounted display (HMD) system.[419] It was primitive both in terms of user interface and realism, and the HMD to be worn by the user was so heavy it had to be suspended from the ceiling, and the graphics comprising the virtual environment were simple wireframe model rooms. In 1989, Jaron Lanier, the founder of VPL Research popularized the concept of virtual reality with his "google n' gloves" system. [420]

1968 Racquetball

A typical racquetball racquet and ball

Racquetball is a racquet sport played with a hollow rubber ball in an indoor or outdoor court. Joe Sobek is credited with inventing the sport of racquetball in the Greenwich YMCA, though not with naming it. A professional tennis player and handball player, Sobek sought a fast-paced sport that was easy to learn and play. He designed the first strung paddle, devised a set of codified rules, and named his game "paddle rackets." [421]

1968 Crash test dummy

  • A crash test dummy is a full-scale anthropomorphic test device that simulates the dimensions, weight proportions and articulation of the human body, and is usually instrumented to record data about the dynamic behavior of the ATD in simulated vehicle impacts. The first crash test dummy was invented by Samuel W. Alderson in 1968. [422]

1968 Bone marrow transplantation for a non-cancer patient

  • The first physician to perform a successful human bone marrow transplantation for a non-cancer patient was Robert A. Good at the University of Minnesota in 1968. [423]

1969 Laser printer

  • A laser printer is a common type of computer printer that rapidly produces high quality text and graphics on plain paper. The laser printer was invented at Xerox in 1969 by researcher Gary Starkweather, who had an improved printer working by 1971 and incorporated into a fully functional networked printer system by about a year later. [424]

1969 Wide-body aircraft

Boeing 747: Queen of the Skies

A wide-body aircraft is a large airliner with two passenger aisles, also known as a twin-aisle aircraft. As the world's first wide-body aircraft, the Boeing 747 revolutionized international travel around the globe by making non-stop and long distance travel accessible for all. Joe Sutter, the chief engineer of the jumbo jet program at Boeing designed the world's first wide-body aircraft, the Boeing 747, with its first test flight on February 9, 1969. [425]

1969 Taser

  • A Taser is an electroshock weapon that uses Electro-Muscular Disruption (EMD) technology to cause neuromuscular incapacitation (NMI) and strong muscle contractions through the involuntary stimulation of both the sensory nerves and the motor nerves. The Taser is not dependent on pain compliance, making it highly effective on subjects with high pain tolerance. For this reason it is preferred by law enforcement over traditional stun guns and other electronic control weapons. Jack Cover, a NASA researcher, began developing the Taser in 1969. [426]

1969 Smoke detector

  • A smoke detector is a device that detects smoke and issues a signal. Most smoke detectors work either by optical detection or by physical process, but some of them use both detection methods to increase sensitivity to smoke. Smoke detectors are usually powered by battery while some are connected directly to power mains, often having a battery as a power supply backup in case the mains power fails. In 1969, two Americans Kenneth House and Randolph Smith invented the first battery powered smoke detector for home use. [427]

1969 Bioactive glass

  • Bioactive glasses are a group of surface reactive glass-ceramics. The biocompatibility of these glasses has led them to be investigated extensively for use as implant materials in the human body to repair and replace diseased or damaged bone. They were invented in 1969 by Larry Hench and colleagues at the University of Florida. [428]

1969 Mousepad

  • A mousepad is a surface for enhancing the usability of a computer mouse. Jack Kelley designed the first mousepad in 1969.[429]

The Seventies (1970–1979)

1970 Wireless local area network

  • A wireless local area network is the linking of two or more computers or devices using spread-spectrum or OFDM modulation technology based to enable communication between devices in a limited area. In 1970, the University of Hawaii, under the leadership of Norman Abramson, developed the world’s first computer communication network using low-cost ham-like radios, named ALOHAnet.[430] The bidirectional star topology of the system included seven computers deployed over four islands to communicate with the central computer on the Oahu Island without using phone lines.

1970 Optical fiber

  • An optical fiber is a glass or plastic fiber that carries light along its length. Optical fibers are widely used in fiber-optic communications, which permits transmission over longer distances and at higher data rates. Robert D. Maurer, Donald Keck, Peter C. Schultz, and Frank Zimar,[431] researchers at Corning Glass, created a glass fiber so clear that it could transmit pulses of light. GTE and AT&T will soon begin experiments to transmit sound and image data using fiber optics, which will transform the communications industry.

1970 Personal computer

An early personal computer
  • The personal computer (PC) is any computer whose original sales price, size, and capabilities make it useful for individuals, and which is intended to be operated directly by an end user, with no intervening computer operator. The Kenbak-1 is considered by the Computer History Museum and the American Computer Museum to be the world's first personal computer which was invented by John Blankenbaker in 1970. [432]

1971 Liquid crystal display TN Field Effect

A liquid crystal display (LCD) is an electronically-modulated optical device shaped into a thin, flat panel made up of any number of color or monochrome pixels filled with liquid crystals and arrayed in front of a light source or reflector. James Fergason at the Westinghouse Research Laboratories in Pittsburgh while working with Sardari Arora and Alfred Saupe at Kent State University developed the TN-effect of LCD technology.[433] Liquid Crystal Institute produced the first LCDs based on the TN-effect, which soon superseded the poor-quality DSM types due to improvements of lower operating voltages and lower power consumption. Twisted nematic displays contain liquid crystal elements which twist and untwist at varying degrees to allow light to pass through. When no voltage is applied to a TN liquid crystal cell, the light is polarized to pass through the cell.

1971 Microprocessor

The microprocessor

1971 Floppy disk

  • A floppy disk is a data storage medium that is composed of a disk of thin, flexible "floppy" magnetic storage medium encased in a square or rectangular plastic shell. In 1971 while working at IBM, David L. Noble invented the 8-inch floppy disk. Floppy disks in 8-inch, 5¼-inch, and 3½-inch formats enjoyed many years as a popular and ubiquitous form of data storage and exchange, from the mid-1970s to the late 1990s. [435]

1971 Baltimore classification

  • The Baltimore classification is a virus classification system which groups viruses into families depending on their type of genome double-strand and their method of replication. It was invented by David Baltimore in 1971. [436]

1971 Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

  • The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is a classification used for most Western Hemisphere tropical cyclones that exceed the intensities of tropical depressions and tropical storms. The scale divides hurricanes into five categories distinguished by the intensities of their sustained winds. The scale was invented by Herbert Saffir and Bob Simpson in 1971. [437]

1971 Supercritical airfoil

  • A supercritical airfoil is an airfoil designed, primarily, to delay the onset of wave drag on aircraft in the transonic speed range. Supercritical airfoils are characterized by their flattened upper surface, highly cambered aft section, and greater leading edge radius as compared to traditional airfoil shapes. The supercritical airfoil was invented and designed by NASA aeronautical engineer Richard Whitcomb in the 1960s. Testing successfully commenced on a United States Navy Vought F-8U fighter through wind tunnel results in 1971. [438]

1971 E-mail

The interface of an e-mail client
  • Electronic mail, often abbreviated to e-mail, is any method of creating, transmitting, or storing primarily text-based human communications with digital communications systems. Ray Tomlinson as a programmer while working on the United States Department of Defense's ARPANET, invented electronic mail and sent the first message on a time-sharing computer.[439] Tomlinson is also credited for making the "@" sign the mainstream of e-mail communications.

1972 C programming language

C is a general-purpose computer programming language originally developed in 1972 by Dennis Ritchie at the Bell Telephone Laboratories to implement the Unix operating system. Although C was designed for writing architecturally independent system software, it is also widely used for developing application software. [440]

1972 Video game console

  • A video game console is an interactive entertainment computer or electronic device that produces a video display signal which can be used with a display device such as a television to display a video game. A joystick or control pad is often used to simulate and play the video game. It was not until 1972 that Magnavox released the first home video game console, the Magnavox Odyssey, invented by Ralph H. Baer. [441]

1972 PET scanner

  • A PET scanner is a commonly used medical device which scans the whole human body for detecting diseases such cancer. It was invented in 1972 by Edward J. Hoffman and fellow scientist Michael Phelps. [442]

1973 E-paper

  • Electronic paper, also called e-paper, is a display technology designed to mimic the appearance of ordinary ink on paper. Electronic paper reflects light like ordinary paper and is capable of holding text and images indefinitely without drawing electricity, while allowing the image to be changed later. Applications of e-paper technology include e-book readers capable of displaying digital versions of books, magazines and newspapers, electronic pricing labels in retail shops, time tables at bus stations, and electronic billboards. Electronic paper was invented in 1973 by Nick Sheridon at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center. The first electronic paper, called Gyricon, consisted of polyethylene spheres between 75 and 106 micrometres across. [443]

1973 Recombinant DNA

  • Recombinant DNA is a form of synthetic DNA that is engineered through the combination or insertion of one or more DNA strands, thereby combining DNA sequences that would not normally occur together. The Recombinant DNA technique was engineered by Stanley Norman Cohen and Herbert Boyer in 1973.[444] They published their findings in a 1974 paper entitled "Construction of Biologically Functional Bacterial Plasmids in vitro", which described a technique to isolate and amplify genes or DNA segments and insert them into another cell with precision, creating a transgenic bacterium.

1973 Catalytic converter

  • A catalytic converter provides an environment for a chemical reaction wherein toxic combustion by-products are converted to less-toxic substances. First used on cars in 1975 to lower emission standards, catalytic converters are also used on generator sets, forklifts, mining equipment, trucks, buses, trains, and other engine-equipped machines. The catalytic converter was developed by John J. Mooney and Carl D. Keith at the Engelhard Corporation, creating the first production catalytic converter in 1973. [445]

1973 Personal watercraft

  • A personal water craft (PWC) is a recreational watercraft that the rider sits or stands on, rather than inside of, as in a boat. Models have an inboard engine driving a pump jet that has a screw-shaped impeller to create thrust for propulsion and steering. Clayton Jacobson II is credited with inventing the personal water craft, including both the sit-down and stand-up models. [446]

1974 Operating system[list membership disputed]

A layer structure showing where the operating system is located on generally used software systems
  • An operating system is the infrastructure software component of a computer system which is responsible for the management and coordination of activities and the sharing of the limited resources of the computer. The operating system acts as a host for applications that are run on the machine. The first operating system was invented by an American computer scientist and microcomputer entrepreneur named Gary Kildall at Digital Research Inc.[447] It was called CP/M which would later by the suggestion of Bill Gates, was to be licensed for use by IBM.

1974 Heimlich maneuver

Performing abdominal thrusts, better known as the Heimlich Maneuver, involves a rescuer standing behind a patient and using their hands to exert pressure on the bottom of the diaphragm. This compresses the lungs and exerts pressure on any object lodged in the trachea, hopefully expelling it. This amounts to an artificial cough. Henry Heimlich, as the inventor of his abdominal thrust technique,[448] first published his findings about the maneuver in a June 1974 informal article in Emergency Medicine entitled, "Pop Goes the Cafe Coronary". On June 19, 1974, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that retired restaurant-owner Isaac Piha used the procedure to rescue choking victim Irene Bogachus in Bellevue, Washington.

1974 Seaborgium[list membership disputed]

  • Seaborgium is a synthetic element that first produced by an American research team led by Albert Ghiorso at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. [449]

1974 Post-it note

The Post-it note is a piece of stationery with a re-adherable strip of adhesive on the back, designed for temporarily attaching notes to documents and to other surfaces such as walls, desks and table-tops, computer displays, and so forth. Post-it notes were invented by 3M employees Arthur Fry and Spencer Silver in 1974. [450]

1974 Scanning acoustic microscope

  • A Scanning Acoustic Microscope (SAM) is a device which uses focused sound to investigate, measure, or image an object. It is commonly used in failure analysis and non-destructive evaluation. The first scanning acoustic microscope was developed in 1974 by C. F. Lemons and R. A. Quate at the Microwave Laboratory of Stanford University.[451]

1974 Quantum well laser

  • The quantum well laser was invented by Charles H. Henry, a physicist at Bell Labs, in 1974 and was granted a patent for it in 1976. [452]

1975 Digital camera

The digital camera and viewfinder

The digital camera is a camera that takes video or still photographs, digitally by recording images via an electronic image sensor. Steven Sasson as an engineer at Eastman Kodak invented and built the first digital camera using a CCD image sensor. [453]

1975 Ethernet

Robert Metcalfe, while at Xerox invented the ethernet, a family of frame-based computer networking technologies for local area networks. [454]

1976 Compact fluorescent lightbulb

A compact fluorescent lightbulb is designed to produce the same amount of visible light found in incandescent light, yet CFLs generally use less power and have a longer rated life. In 1976, Ed Hammer invented the first compact fluorescent lightbulb,[455] but due to the difficulty of the manufacturing process for coating the interior of the spiral glass tube, General Electric did not manufacture or sell the device. Other companies began manufacturing and selling the device in 1995.

1976 Hepatitis B virus vaccine

  • After Baruch Samuel Blumberg identified the Hepatitis B virus in 1964, he later developed a diagnostic test and vaccine for the Hepatitis B virus in 1976. [456]

1976 Gore Tex

  • Gore-Tex is a waterproof, breathable fabric and is made using an emulsion polymerization process with the fluorosurfactant perfluorooctanoic acid. It was co-invented by Wilbert L. Gore, Rowena Taylor, and Gore's son, Robert W. Gore for use in space. Robert Gore was granted a patent on April 27, 1976, for a porous form of polytetrafluoroethylene with a micro-structure characterized by nodes interconnected by fibrils. Robert Gore, Rowena Taylor, and Samuel Allen were granted a patent on March 18, 1980 for a "waterproof laminate." [457]

1976 Computational lexicology

  • Computational lexicology is a branch of computational linguistics, which is concerned with the use of computers in the study of lexicon. It has been more narrowly described by some scholars as the use of computers in the study of machine-readable dictionaries. Computational lexicology emerged as a separate discipline within computational linguistics with the appearance of machine-readable dictionaries, starting with the creation of the machine-readable tapes of the Merriam-Webster Seventh Collegiate Dictionary and the Merriam-Webster New Pocket Dictionary in 1976 by John Olney at System Development Corporation. [458]

1977 Magnetic resonance imaging

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI), is primarily a medical imaging technique most commonly used in radiology to visualize the structure and function of the body. The development of magnetic resonance imaging was first conceived by Paul Lauterbur who received a Nobel Prize in 2003 for his groundbreaking work.[459] Raymond Vahan Damadian built the first full-body MRI machine and produced the first full magnetic resonance imaging ("MRI") scan of the human body, albeit using a "focused field" technique that differs considerably from modern imaging. [460]

1977 Chemical oxygen iodine laser

  • A chemical oxygen iodine laser is an infrared chemical laser. It was developed by the United States Air Force's Phillips Laboratory in 1977 for military purposes. Its properties make it useful for industrial processing as well; the beam is focusable and can be transferred by an optical fiber, as its wavelength is not absorbed much by fused silica but is very well absorbed by metals, making it suitable for laser cutting and drilling. COIL is the main weapon laser for the military airborne laser and advanced tactical laser programs. [461]

1978 Spreadsheet

  • A spreadsheet is a computer application that simulates a paper worksheet. It displays multiple cells that together make up a grid consisting of rows and columns, each cell containing either alphanumeric text or numeric values. Dan Bricklin founded Software Arts, Inc., and began selling VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet program available for personal computers. [462]

1979 Winglets

  • Wingtip devices are usually intended to improve the efficiency of fixed-wing aircraft. Throughout the 1970’s, NASA aeronautical engineer Richard Whitcomb began investigating and studying the feasibility of winglets in order to improve overall aerodynamics of aircraft. Whitcomb’s invention finally culminated with the first successful test flight of his attached winglets on a KC-135 Stratotanker on July 24, 1979. [463]

1979 Inline skates

  • Inline skates are a type of roller skate. Inline skates have two, three, four, or five wheels arranged in a single line. Some inline skates, especially those used for recreation, have a "stop" or "brake" which is used to slow down while skating. In 1979, Scott Olson invented inline skates, later receiving a patent for his invention and establishing his company, Rollerblade Inc. in 1983. [464]

1979 Human-powered flight

  • Cyclist Byron Allen crosses the English Channel in a pedal-powered aircraft called the Gossamer Albatross. The flight takes 2 hours, 49 minutes, and wins a £100,000 prize for its crew, headed by designer Dr. Paul MacCready.[465] Constructed of Mylar, polystyrene, and carbon-fiber rods, the Albatross has a wingspan of 93 feet 10 inches (28.6 m) and weighs about 70 pounds.

1979 Polar fleece

  • Polar fleece, or "fleece", is a soft napped insulating synthetic wool fabric made from PET or other synthetic fibres. One of the first forms of polar fleece was created in 1979 by Malden Mills, now Polartec LLC., which was a new, light, and strong pile fabric meant to mimic and in some ways surpass wool.[466] Found in jackets, hoodies, and casual wear, fleece has some of wool's finest qualities but weighs a fraction of the lightest available woolens.

1979 Ruppeiner geometry[list membership disputed]

  • Ruppeiner geometry is thermodynamic geometry employing the language of Riemannian geometry to study thermodynamics. It was proposed by George Ruppeiner in 1979. [467]

The Eighties (1980–1989)

1981 Fetal surgery

  • Fetal surgical techniques using animal models were first developed at the University of California, San Francisco in 1980. In 1981, the first human open fetal surgery in the world was performed at University of California, San Francisco under the direction of Dr. Michael Harrison.[468]

1981 Total internal reflection fluorescence microscope

  • A total internal reflection fluorescence microscope is a type of microscope with which a thin region of a specimen, usually less than 200 nm, can be observed. It can also be used to observe the fluorescence of a single molecule, making it an important tool of biophysics and quantitative biology. Daniel Axelrod invented the first total internal reflection fluorescence microscope in 1981. [469]

1981 Space shuttle

The Space Shuttle: World's most complex machine
  • In 1981, NASA successfully launched its reusable spacecraft called the Space Shuttle. George Mueller, an American from St. Louis, Missouri is widely credited for jump starting and overseeing the Space Shuttle program after the demise of the Apollo program.[470] In 2010, the Space Shuttle, after nearly 30 years of duty, will be retired from service, making way for the Constellation program.

1981 Paintball[list membership disputed]

  • Paintball is a game in which players eliminate opponents by hitting them with pellets containing paint usually shot from a carbon dioxide or compressed-gas, HPA or N20, in a powered paintball gun. The idea of the game was first conceived in 1976 by Hayes Noel, Bob Gurnsey, and Charles Gaines and first played on June 27, 1981. [471]

1981 Graphic User Interface

  • Short for Graphic User Interface, the GUI was first developed at Xerox PARC by Alan Kay and Douglas Engelbart in 1981.[472] A GUI uses windows, icons, and menus to carry out commands such as opening files, deleting files, moving files, etc. and although many GUI Operating Systems are operated by using a mouse, the keyboard can also be used by using keyboard shortcuts or arrow keys.

1983 Internet

Visualization of the various routes through a portion of the Internet
  • The concept of packet switching of a network was first explored by Paul Baran in the early 1960s,[473] thus later invented by Leonard Kleinrock.[474] On October 29, 1969, the world's first electronic computer network, the ARPANET, was established between nodes at Leonard Kleinrock's lab at UCLA and Douglas Engelbart's lab at SRI. In addition, both Bob Kahn and Vinton Cerf are known as the "fathers of the internet" since they invented Internet Protocol and TCP in 1973 while working on ARPANET at the United States Department of Defense.[475] The first TCP/IP-wide area network was operational on January 1, 1983, when the United States' National Science Foundation (NSF) constructed a university network backbone that would later become the NSFNet. This date is held by most as the birth of the Internet. It was then followed by the opening of the network to commercial interests in 1985.[476] The entire network is streamlined into what is known as the Internet Protocol Suite.

1983 Voicemail[list membership disputed]

  • Voicemail messages are stored on hard disk drives, media generally used by computers to store other forms of data. Messages are recorded in digitized natural human voice similar to how music is stored on a CD. To retrieve messages, a user calls the system from any phone, and his messages can be retrieved immediately. In 1979, Gordon Matthews formed a new company, VMX (Voice Message Exchange) and filed a patent, which was granted on February 1, 1983. Matthews patented what was called "Voice Message Exchange," which is the pioneer patent for what later evolved into today's voicemail. Matthews eventually held over thirty-five patents relating to his invention. [477]

1983 Blind signature

  • In cryptography, a blind signature, as introduced by David Chaum in 1983, is a form of digital signature in which the content of a message is disguised before it is signed. The resulting blind signature can be publicly verified against the original, unblinded message in the manner of a regular digital signature. Blind signatures are typically employed in privacy-related protocols where the signer and message author are different parties. Examples include cryptographic election systems and digital cash schemes. [478]

1983 Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine

  • Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, also known as Pneumovax, is a vaccine used to prevent Streptococcus pneumoniae infections such as pneumonia and septicaemia. It was developed by Merck & Co. in 1983. [479]

1984 Polymerase chain reaction

  • The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a technique widely used in molecular biology. It derives its name from one of its key components, a DNA polymerase used to amplify a piece of DNA by in vitro enzymatic DNA replication. As PCR progresses, the DNA generated is used as a template for replication. It was invented in 1984 by Kary Mullis. [480]

1985 Elliptic curve cryptography

  • Elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) is an approach to public-key cryptography based on the algebraic structure of elliptic curves over finite fields. It was invented in 1985 when Neal Koblitz and Victor S. Miller suggested the use of elliptic curves in cryptography. [481]

1986 Stereolithography

  • Stereolithography is a common rapid manufacturing and rapid prototyping technology for producing parts with high accuracy and good surface finish by utilizing a vat of liquid UV-curable photopolymer "resin" and a UV laser to build parts a layer at a time. It was invented by Chuck Hull in 1986. [482]

1987 Perl

  • Perl is a high-level, general-purpose, interpreted, dynamic programming language. It was originally invented by Larry Wall, a linguist working as a systems administrator for NASA, in 1987, as a general purpose Unix scripting language to make report processing easier. Perl is also used for text processing, system administration, web application development, bioinformatics, network programming, applications that require database access, graphics programming etc.[483]

1988 Fused deposition modeling

  • Fused deposition modeling, which is often referred to by its initials FDM, is a type of additive fabrication or technology commonly used within engineering design. FDM works on an "additive" principle by laying down material in layers. It was developed by S. Scott Crump in 1988. [484]

1988 Tcl[list membership disputed]

  • Tcl, known as "Tool Command Language", is a scripting language most commonly used for rapid prototyping, scripted applications, GUIs and testing. Tcl is used extensively on embedded systems platforms, both in its full form and in several other small-footprinted versions. Tcl is also used for CGI scripting. Tcl was created in the spring of 1988 by John Ousterhout while working at the University of California, Berkeley. [485]

1988 Ballistic electron emission microscopy

  • Ballistic electron emission microscopy or BEEM is a technique for studying ballistic electron transport through variety of materials and material interfaces. BEEM is a three terminal scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) technique that was invented in 1988 at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena California by L. Douglas Bell and William Kaiser. [486]

1988 Electron beam ion trap

  • Electron beam ion trap is used in physics to denote an electromagnetic bottle that produces and confines highly charged ions. It was invented by M. Levine and R. Marrs in 1988. [487]

1988 Nicotine patch

  • A nicotine patch is a transdermal patch that releases nicotine into the body through the skin. It is usually used as a method to quit smoking. It was invented in 1988 by Murray Jarvik, Jed Rose and Daniel Rose. [488]

1988 Firewall

  • A firewall is an integrated collection of security measures designed to prevent unauthorized electronic access to a networked computer system. At AT&T Bell Labs, Bill Cheswick and Steve Bellovin were continuing their research in packet filtering and developed a working model for their own company based upon their original first generation architecture of a firewall. [489]

1988 Resin identification code

  • The SPI resin identification coding system is a set of symbols placed on plastics to identify the polymer type. It was developed by the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) in 1988.[490]

1989 ZIP file format

  • The ZIP file format is a data compression and file archiver. A ZIP file contains one or more files that have been compressed to reduce file size, or stored as-is. The format was originally created in 1989 by Phil Katz for PKZIP, and evolved from the previous ARC compression format by Thom Henderson. [491]

1989 Selective laser sintering

  • Selective laser sintering is an additive rapid manufacturing technique that uses a high power laser to fuse small particles of plastic, metal, ceramic, or glass powders into a mass representing a desired 3-dimensional object. The laser selectively fuses powdered material by scanning cross-sections generated from a 3-D digital description of the part on the surface of a powder bed. It was developed and patented by Dr. Carl Deckard at the University of Texas at Austin in 1989. [492]

The Nineties (1991–1999 )

1990 Sulfur lamp[list membership disputed]

  • The sulfur lamp is a highly efficient full-spectrumelectrodeless lighting system whose light is generated by sulfur plasma that has been excited by microwave radiation. The sulfur lamp consists of a golf ball-sized (30 mm) fused-quartz bulb containing several milligrams of sulfur powder and argon gas at the end of a thin glass spindle. The bulb is enclosed in a microwave-resonant wire-mesh cage. The technology was conceived by engineer Michael Ury, physicist Charles Wood and their colleagues in 1990. With support from the United States Department of Energy, it was further developed in 1994 by Fusion Lighting of Rockville, Maryland, a spinoff of the Fusion UV division of Fusion Systems Corporation. [493]

1993 Global Positioning System

NAVSTAR GPS in orbit
  • The Global Positioning System (GPS) is the main component of the United States' Department of Defense's Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) which was invented by Ivan Getting and Bradford Parkinson, engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[494] The GPS is the first and only fully functional GNSS in the world. The GPS is the successor to Transit which was previously launched in 1960. [379]

1994 DNA computing

  • DNA computing is a form of computing which uses DNA, biochemistry and molecular biology, instead of the traditional silicon-based computer technologies. DNA computing, or, more generally, molecular computing, is a fast developing interdisciplinary area. Research and development in this area concerns theory, experiments and applications of DNA computing. DNA computing is fundamentally similar to parallel computing in that it takes advantage of the many different molecules of DNA to try many different possibilities at once. This field was initially invented by Leonard Adleman of the University of Southern California in 1994. Adleman demonstrated a proof-of-concept use of DNA as a form of computation which solved the seven-point Hamiltonian path problem. [495]

1995 Nanoimprint lithography

  • Nanoimprint lithography is a novel method of fabricating nanometer scale patterns. It is a simple nanolithography process with low cost, high throughput and high resolution. It creates patterns by mechanical deformation of imprint resist and subsequent processes. The imprint resist is typically a monomer or polymer formulation that is cured by heat or UV light during the imprinting. Adhesion between the resist and the template is controlled to allow proper release. It was invented by Princeton University professor Stephen Chou. [496]

1995 Scroll wheel[list membership disputed]

  • A scroll wheel, or mouse wheel, is a hard plastic or rubbery disc on a computer mouse that is used for scrolling up or down on a web page. It is perpendicular to the mouse surface and is normally located between the left and right mouse buttons. The scroll wheel was invented by Eric Michelman in 1995. [497]

1995 JavaScript

  • JavaScript is a scripting language widely used for client-side web development. It was the originating dialect of the ECMAScript standard. It is a dynamic, weakly typed, prototype-based language with first-class functions. JavaScript was influenced by many languages and was designed to look like Java, but be easier for non-programmers to work with. In 1995, JavaScript was invented by Brendan Eich under the name Mocha, which was later renamed to LiveScript, and finally to JavaScript. [498]

1996 Flash programming

  • Adobe Flash is a multimedia platform created by Macromedia and currently developed and distributed by Adobe Systems. Since its introduction in 1996, Flash has become a popular method for adding animation and interactivity to web pages. The program Flash was the conceived by Jonathan Gay while in college and extended it while working for Silicon Beach Software and its successors. [499]

1996 Low plasticity burnishing

  • Low plasticity burnishing (LPB) is a method of metal improvement that provides deep, stable surface compressive residual stresses with little cold work for improved damage tolerance and metal fatigue life extension. Improved fretting fatigue and stress corrosion performance has been documented, even at elevated temperatures where the compression from other metal improvement processes relaxes. The resulting deep layer of compressive residual stress has also been shown to improve high cycle fatigue (HCF) and low cycle fatigue (LCF) performance. LPB was developed and patented by Lambda Technologies, a small family-owned company from Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1996. [500]

1996 Bait car

  • A bait car is a vehicle used by a law enforcement agency to capture car thieves. The vehicles are specially modified with features including GPS tracking & hidden cameras that record audio, video, time and date, which can all be remotely monitored by police. A remote-controlled immobilizer is installed in the vehicle that allows police to disable the engine and lock the doors. The concept and technology was first developed by Jason Cecchettini in 1996.[501]

1997 TiVo

  • TiVo DVRs provide an electronic television programming schedule. TiVo Inc. was incorporated on August 4, 1997 as "Teleworld, INC." by Jim Barton and Mike Ramsay,[502] veterans of Silicon Graphics and Time Warner's Full Service Network digital video system. Originally intending to create a home network device, they later developed their idea to record digitized video on a hard disk.

1998 PageRank[list membership disputed]

  • PageRank is a link analysis algorithm used by the Google Internet search engine that assigns a numerical weighting to each element of a hyperlinked set of documents, such as the World Wide Web, with the purpose of "measuring" its relative importance within the set. PageRank was invented at Stanford University by Larry Page as part of a research project about a new kind of search engine.[503] The project started in 1995 and led to a functional prototype, named Google, in 1998. Shortly after, Larry Page founded Google Inc., the company behind the Google search engine.

1998 Virtual globe[list membership disputed]

U.S.G.S. Ortho-Urban Imagery of Huntington Beach, California
  • A virtual globe is a 3D software model or representation of the Earth or another world. A virtual globe provides the user with the ability to freely move around in the virtual environment by changing the viewing angle and position. In 1998, Microsoft released a popular offline virtual globe in the form of Encarta Virtual Globe 98. The first widely publicized online virtual globe was Google Earth in 2006, a comprehensive maping of the earth by the superimposition of images obtained from NASA satellite imagery, the global positioning system, aerial photography, and the GIS 3D globe. [504]

1999 Torino scale

  • The Torino Scale, created by Richard P. Binzel in 1999,[505] is a method for categorizing the impact hazard associated with near-Earth objects (NEOs) such as asteroids and comets. It was intended as a tool for astronomers and the public to assess the seriousness of collision predictions, by combining probability statistics and known kinetic damage potentials into a single threat value.

Recent inventions (2000 - )

2001 Microwave Anisotropy Probe[list membership disputed]

  • A microwave anisotropy probe, or Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, measures the temperature of the Big Bang's remnant radiant heat. Headed by Professor Charles L. Bennett, the mission is a joint project between the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Princeton University.[506] The WMAP satellite was launched on 30 June 2001. On February 11, 2003 NASA's WMAP takes the first detailed "baby picture" of the universe. The image reveals the universe is 13.7 billion years old and provides evidence that supports the inflationary theory.

2001 Self-balancing personal transporter[list membership disputed]

  • The Segway PT, invented by Dean Kamen, was the world's first two-wheeled, self-balancing, electric vehicle used for "personal transport". [507]

2002 SERF

  • A spin-exchange relaxation-free (SERF) magnetometer achieves very high magnetic field sensitivity by monitoring a high density vapor of alkali metal atoms precessing in a near-zero magnetic field. SERF magnetometers are among the most sensitive magnetic field sensors and in some cases exceed the performance of SQUID detectors of equivalent size. The SERF magnetometer was invented by Michael V. Romalis at Princeton University in 2002. [508]

2003 Fermionic condensate

  • A fermionic condensate is a superfluid phase formed by fermionic particles at low temperatures. The first atomic fermionic condensate was invented by Deborah S. Jin in 2003. [509]

2006 HPV vaccine

  • The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is a vaccine that prevents infection with certain species of human papillomavirus associated with the development of cervical cancer and genital warts. In work that was initiated in the mid 1980s, the vaccine was developed, in parallel, by Dr. Richard Reichman, Dr. William Bonnez, and Dr. Robert Rose,[510] at Georgetown University Medical Center, the University of Rochester, and the National Cancer Institute.

2006 Three-dimensional model rendering[list membership disputed]

  • Photosynth is a software application which analyzes digital photographs and generates a three-dimensional model of the photos and a point cloud of a photographed object. Pattern recognition components compare portions of images to create points, which are then used to convert the image into a model.[511]

2006 Shingles vaccine

  • Zostavax is a live vaccine developed by Merck & Co. in 2006, shown to reduce the incidence of herpes zoster by 51.3% in a pivotal phase III study of 38,000 adults aged 60 and older who received the vaccine. [512]

2009 Composite aircraft[list membership disputed]

  • Currently under development by Boeing Commercial Airplanes, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is the world's first jet airliner to use composite materials for most of its fuselage as well as raked wingtips which improve fuel economy, climb performance, and shorten takeoff field length. Tom Cogan, as chief engineer, has overseen the entire Boeing 787 Dreamliner program from its inception.[513] As the fastest-selling wide-body jet airliner in aviation history, the Boeing 787's first test flight is scheduled for early 2009 with deliveries expected in 2010.

See also

  • Timeline of worldwide inventions
  • Science and technology in the United States
  • Technological and industrial history of the United States
  • Timeline of United States discoveries
  • Yankee ingenuity
  • List of African American inventors and scientists
  • United States Patent and Trademark Office
  • National Inventors Hall of Fame
  • NASA spinoff


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