Sunday, November 15, 2009


It is a little known fact that women have been inventing useful things for years. Unfortunately, it seems that unless you are a mom, or better yet, a single mom, you will most likely remain unknown.

For instance, Mary Anderson was granted her first patent for a window cleaning device in November of 1903. Her invention could clean snow, rain, or sleet from a windshield by using a handle inside the car. Her goal was to improve driver vision during stormy weather - Mary Anderson invented the windshield wiper. What would the Internet say? ‘Mom wipes away windshield wetness one stroke at a time.’

Virgie Ammons invented the handle for the fireplace damper. Her patent was issued in 1974 complete with diagrams that explain how the tool ceases damper chatter caused by air pressure in the room or wind coming from outside. However, if it were today, the Internet would boast…’Mom finds cure for ghostly, rattling and whistling sounds.’

Katherine Blodgett’s research on monomolecular coatings with Nobel Prize winning, Dr. Irving Langmuir (for his work in surface chemistry. Hmmm) led her to a revolutionary discovery. She discovered a way to apply the coatings layer by layer to glass and metal. The thin films, which naturally reduced glare on reflective surfaces, when layered to a certain thickness, would completely cancel out the reflection from the surface underneath. This resulted in the world’s first 100% transparent or invisible glass. Ever heard of her? Me either. But today her credit might read, ‘Single mom discovers a way to reduce pesky glare.’

Silver Screen superstar Hedy Lamarr invented a secret communication system in an effort to help the allies defeat the Germans in World War II. The invention, patented in 1941, manipulated radio frequencies between transmission and reception to develop an unbreakable code so that top-secret messages could not be intercepted. What would the Internet say? ‘Mom uses musical notes to send top-secret messages.’

Stephanie Kwolek’s research with high performance chemical compounds led to the development of a synthetic material called Kevlar which is five times stronger than the same weight of steel. Kevlar, patented by Kwolek in 1966, does not rust nor corrode and is extremely lightweight. Many police officers owe their lives to Stephanie Kwolek, for Kevlar is the material used in bullet proof vests. Other applications of the compound include underwater cables, brake linings, space vehicles, boats, parachutes, skis, marching drumheads and building materials. Well now, this is big stuff. How about… ‘Single mom stumbles upon material stronger than man made of steel.’

It was originally called "mistake out", the invention of Bette Nesmith Graham, a Dallas secretary and a single mother raising a son on her own. Graham used her own kitchen blender to mix up her first batch of liquid paper or white out, a substance used to cover up mistakes made on paper. She happened to be Michael Nesmith’s mom. You remember Michael? He played guitar for the Monkees. Well, you know how the ad would read today…’Single mom discovers way to correct Monkee business.’

You never read ads about single dads doing anything as important as coming up for a formula for whiter teeth or a hauntingly healthy Halloween snacks for toddlers. Why? Hey dads, get busy!

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