Mechanical Engineering

Top 10 American Inventions

Today is the birthday of the one and only United States of America. Built on the spirit of independence, freedom, and forward-thinking, many inventors have found incredible levels of success in America. In honor of our wonderful country, we’re going to take a look at some of the best inventions to come from the good ol’ US of A. Do you think you have the next great American invention? If so, call Glober Design! We can help you produce a prototype, refine the design, and walk you through the patent process to bring your idea to life.

10. Dental Floss

While it’s hardly anyone’s favorite invention (except maybe dentists), dental floss has become a very important part of our daily hygiene habits to keep us healthy. It was created in 1815 by Levi Spear Parmly, a New Orleans dentist. When it was first introduced, it was surprisingly made of silk. Current dental floss is made of the more affordable materials nylon or plastic. If you want to make sure you’ve got a gleaming set of pearly whites, you’ve got to use this American invention.

9. Chocolate Chip Cookies

One of the reasons you might need dental floss comes from this American classic invention. Hailing from the kitchen of Ruth Graves Wakefield in 1938 while she owned the Toll House Inn. You might recognize that name from the famous line of chocolate chips sold by NESTLÉ. It was previously thought that they were invented on accident — with the expectation that the chips would melt and make chocolate cookies — this is not the case. In actuality, Wakefield invented chocolate chip cookies as a follow-up to her restaurant’s incredibly popular butterscotch nut cookie. It took off immediately and is now considered an American classic.

8. Traffic Lights

While the car was originally invented in Germany, many innovations came from America in hopes to make our time on the road a little bit safer. One of the first of these inventions is the traffic light. Prior to its creation, we only had stop signs, traffic police, and unlit traffic signals, and even those weren’t installed on every road at the time. Invented by Lester Wire in 1912, he was a Salt Lake City policeman who wanted to improve road safety. The original design only had two lights, red and green for stop and go respectively. Eight years later, the three-color traffic light was invented by another police officer, William Potts of Detroit.

7. Crash Test Dummies

Another invention intended to make driving safer, the crash test dummy became invaluable to make better cars that would stand up to a crash. The first of its kind dummy was developed by Samuel W. Anderson in 1949 to be used in aviation safety tests. Before the crash test dummy, tests were performed with animals and human cadavers. Dummies have become a much more humane way to perform research on how a human body reacts to a variety of situations.

6. GPS (Global Positioning System)

Think back to the time before you had a cell phone in your pocket connected to the web. If you were going on a trip, you had to use a map (sometimes multiple depending on how far you were going) to determine where you needed to go. While it feels like a very recent invention, you might be surprised to learn it was actually developed in 1973 by the US Department of Defense. Roger L. Easton of the Naval Research Laboratory, Ivan A. Getting of The Aerospace Corporation, and Bradford Parkinson of the Applied Physics Laboratory are credited with the invention of GPS. Once it became available to the civilian population, getting lost while driving around was all but a thing of the past.

5. Video Games

While you might initially turn up your nose and call video games kid stuff, it’s an invention you shouldn’t discredit. In 2017, the US video game industry was valued at an estimated $18.4 billion, making it bigger than other media industries and consistently growing. This cash-cow of an industry had an inauspicious introduction when it was created in 1948 as a ‘cathode-ray tube amusement device’ by Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann. While that was the first attempt at making a video game, it didn’t begin to take its current shape until the development of the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972, which was the first home video game console. Over the next four decades, video games were often at the forefront of technology, pushing other industries forward in their wake.

4. E-Mail

The first step in bringing our world a bit closer together, electronic mail surprisingly started many years prior to the introduction of the internet. E-Mail was invented by Ray Tomlinson, a programmer hailing from New York, in 1971. He sent the first E-Mail using ARPANET, an early packet switching network that became foundational in the invention of the internet, between two computer terminals sitting side by side. Tomlinson has also been credited with using the ampersand (@) sign as a way to separate the user’s name and the name of the user’s machine, with the latter changing to the domain name in later years.

3. Cell Phones

This invention has become so important to our daily lives, many people can’t go ten minutes without their phone near them. The original mobile phone had a very apt name, as it was purely a phone you could take out of your house with you and nothing else. It was a far cry from the smartphones we’re all used to nowadays. However, we wouldn’t have gotten the fancy and feature-packed iPhone without the hard work done by Dr. Martin Cooper and his team in the early 1970s.

2. Computers

Many centuries worth of work by a number of scientists all led to the creation of the modern digital computer. The original computer was invented in 1937, by George Stibitz when he was working at Bell Labs. However, at that point, computers didn’t have much power and took up an entire room’s worth of space. It wasn’t until Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs invented the first ever personal computer in their garage in the 1980s. With this invention, Apple began its slow ascent to the tech giant we know today.

1. The Internet

Cell phones, computers, E-Mail, and video games would all be vastly different in a world without the internet. As a connected network of networks, the internet put us in closer contact with the rest of the world than was ever possible before. The National Science Foundation introduced the nascent Internet Protocol Suite in 1982, funded by the US government. It took the mid-90s influx of personal computers in homes for the internet to start to take shape, and as it stands now, it’s hard to think of our world operating without it again.

There have been so many incredible inventions to come out of America in the past 242 years, and we’re sure there are many more to come. These are just a few of the longest lasting inventions over the years, but we’ll be taking a look at more inventing history in the future. Did an idea strike you while you were reading this blog? Then call Glober Design today to get started on making your idea a reality.