Who Invented The Blender

vitamix-blenderIt is an item used a lot in kitchens, and whether you are after a home-made milkshake, alternative baby food, or for separate foods to not be so separate, a blender performs the messy task that its name implies. But who first came up with the idea of creating the blender?

In the year 1922, American Stephen Poplawski (owner of the Stevens Electronics Company) is credited as having first produced the idea of implementing an electronic fast-spinning blade at the bottom of a plastic container as a means of turning more solid foods into liquid, with an official patent (‘device for turning fruit and vegetables into liquid’) being awarded to him in 1932.

It could be argued that he got his inspiration mainly from the first-ever AC/DC motor created by Hamilton Beach Manufacturing Co. in 1910, although the company’s co-founder Fred Osius would go on (over 25 years later) to find ways to improve on Poplawski’s product.

Despite Osius’ and other developer’s future attempts, though, there have been not been many groundbreaking developments or improvements on the original concept aside from improved reliability and small modified features, as well as much greater levels of marketing, which was funded by singer Fred Waring, whose interest in gadgets is said to have convinced him to financially back Osius’ design for a ‘Miracle Mixer’ which was later renamed as the ‘Waring Blendor’.

The product was advertised by Osius on roadshows across America in the late 1930’s, and the concept has not looked back since, sold by many companies worldwide with slight tweaks of features including specific food settings, timers, and speed levels. Blenders are now used in a number of day-to-day cooking activities, but drinks (in particular alcoholic ‘mixers’) remain the device’s main domain.

However, with modern society and video sharing websites such as YouTube, it is not just common food that gets put under the blender’s blade, as the popular Blendtec-operated web series Will It Blend? demonstrates. Featured below are blending attempts at an iPad, trainers, glowsticks, and a collection of Justin Bieber memorabilia. Just remember to keep the lid on…

Blender – Wikipedia

Who Invented The Screwdriver

screwdriverIt is a long-standing household tool that can make the task of fixing an item to a solid surface a lot more stress-free, and while many people will feel that they can do the same job with any pointed object in the right dimensions, a screwdriver is undoubtedly the best fit for the objective that it was made to fulfil. But who was it that first came up with one?

While the screw (a ‘conical helix’-shaped device for penetrating solid surfaces in an less damaging manner) had been around for quite some time (with its origins dating back to Ancient Greece and the historic engineer Archemedes), it was not until the late 15th-century that a way to control them more efficiently was developed, a hand-held metal device that was shaped to match an implant in the flat head of the screw, generally the straightforward ‘flathead design’, the basis of a shape still applied today.

While the exact date or founder is unknown, information on the screwdriver was first published in a manuscript (The Medieval Housebook of Wolfegg Castle) dated between 1475-1490, with claims that the design came from either Germany (schraubendreher [screwturner]) or France ( tournevis [turnscrew]).

Since that point, there has not been much development in the area of screwdrivers aside from more refined and supportive shapes (such as the Philips or Robertson head screwdriver designs), sizes to match varying screws, or making it motorised or automatic for the tougher screwing jobs, but a cheap, modern basic version of the device (flathead) is generally an item which could be found in any household in the developed world, sometimes even applying a purpose away from screws. An in-depth review of the history of the screwdriver can be seen below:

Screwdriver – Wikipedia

Who Invented The Piggy Bank

While most money-saving people will keep their funds in wallets or banks, plenty – mainly children, collectors, or those with small change – will use a piggy bank. It is probably one of the most confusing match-ups in modern times, so how did the pig become associated with storing money in a fragile and smashable case?

piggy-bankThe origin of the piggy bank, unlike its first creator, is actually known, and is thought mainly to be the work of the development of the English language. Throughout much of the Middle Ages, the word ‘pygg’ was a way to describe a form of clay, from which people made an assortment of useful houshold items, namely jars.

One such jar was a small pot-style item known as a ‘pygg jar’ in which people that used them would store their money. By the 18th century, the English language was now pronouncing the word for the animal ‘pig’ in a similar manner, and one unknown person during that era seems to have made the key link between the two similar words (pig-pygg) that created an iconic product.

The ‘pig bank’ obviously must have went down well with people who bought them, and by the mid-20th century it was one of the most popular and commonplace methods of storing money, as well as some starting to be made from materials more practical and durable than their clay-based origin. In more recent times, the definition of ‘piggy bank’ has extended a bit, and while this does mean that other animals (such as bunnies or sheep) are featured as money-storing objects, nothing seems to be coming even close to the popularity of the pig in this respect.

While the piggy bank has been featured as a mascot for banks and financial services, the most prominent use of them in popular culture is arguably being ‘smashed’ in a film or TV series when a character is desperately in need of some money. This ‘sledgehammer moment’ is probably not seen as much in reality, but this video does show one getting the cruel treatment in slow-motion:

Piggy Bank – Wikipedia

Who Invented The Paperclip

It is one of the most commonly-used items within an office or school, seen as a small device that many of its users would consider to be crucial when they need it, but forgettable when they don’t. Paperclips have been a ‘staple’ in the stationary industry for years, but who first came up with the idea of bending a small tube of metal in that shape?

paper-clips-001There are a number of claimants to the invention of the paperclip, but the first patent for such an object was granted to American Samuel B Fay in 1867, with what was described as a bent wire used for attaching sheets of paper together, although this was merely a side-effect of Fay’s original intention (an object to bind tickets to fabric). At some point in the early 1870’s, though, The Gem Manufacturing Company (in England), began producing paperclips in the ‘looped’ design seen today, and although they are recognised nowadays as the inventor of this paperclip shape, the design was never patented by them. American William Middlebrook, meanwhile, completed a universal recognition of the design when he filed an accepted US patent for a machine that produced Gem-style paperclips in 1899.

A common misconception from many in the world is crediting the invention with Norwegian national icon Johan Vaaler, who had registered his more simplistic and less functional (rectangular and un-looped) design to German authorities in 1899, and in the USA in 1901.

While he is known as a ‘great Norwegian inventor’ who went on to become a Patent clerk himself, it is widely regarded that Vaaler only received the patents because there was not yet a market for the device in his native Norway (the reason he had thought the idea was original at first), and relaxed US patent laws which saw enough of a difference between the Vaaler and Gem designs to be considered ‘unique’, although it was only the latter which would become a well-known shape for the object.

Despite not being the true inventor of the paperclip, Vaaler’s work still had an impressive impact on his countrymen, with the paperclip now regarded as a ‘national symbol’. Around the rest of the world, the object has been useful in keeping important documents bound together, but also has other uses, as explained in this clip produced by The History Channel:

Paperclips – Wikipedia

Who Invented The Fly Swatter

flyswatterAs far back as people can remember, swarms of flies can be a bit of a dampener to a nice summer’s day. Even one insect on its own in a house is generally considered as enough of a pest to want rid of fast, and if there are no ways of getting it out safely and quickly, then what else can you do than make a short life shorter? The flyswatter is the product that has given people the tools to do this without getting their hands dirty, but who first developed this plastic producer of pain?

The man generally credited with this invention is Frank H. Rose, who created the ‘fly bat’ in 1905 as a plastic screen attached to a yardstick, made as a flexible way to take down the insect. Rose only created this device in response to Dr. Samuel Crumbine’s public awareness campaign that summer in Topeka (USA), reportedly using the term ‘swat’ after hearing it at a local softball game.

While the flyswatter is undoubtedly a popular cheap product even today (usually with a more streamlined, fully plastic appearance), a modernised twist on the classic design comes in the form of the electric flyswatter. First sold in 1995 (with development origins as far back as the 1950’s), the battery-powered device looks more like a tennis racket (has anyone tried a potential game there?) with three layers of metal mesh wire designed to protect the user (the outer layers protect the centrally-charged mesh) and provide an aerodynamic swing, with a button used to release the power with user control.

Current electric flyswatters are capable of producing 1000-2500 volts of power, though consumer safety regulations prevent the device from being able to make a one-shot kill on a fly, though continued holding of the power button causes the insect victim to ‘cook’…

The electric version of the flyswatter, combined with the modern appeal of YouTube, can create a series of interesting videos, from displaying the power of the device in a dark room, to a demonstration of what happens when you stick your tounge inside:

Flyswatter – Wikipedia

Who Invented The 3DTV

family-3d-movie-at-home3DTV is one of the biggest emerging trends in current society, with the format being snapped up by consumers who want the best available viewing experience. But who was it that first came up with what is considered ‘the next-best-thing to being there’?

Despite what seems to be only a recent breakthrough in 3D technology, and an even more recent release into mainstream society, the 3DTV we know today is what could be seen as a current stage in a process which has been in development since the 19th century.

The 3D movie concept has been developing since 1855, and the invention of a Kinematoscope (Stereo Animation Camera), when it was realised that a precise method of overlaying two slightly different images at a flickering speed could create a ‘3D effect’. The forerunner of this effect was English film-maker William Friese-Greene, and it was dubbed as anaglyphic (the approach that does not need a special TV, and is best known for requiring ‘red-cyan’ glasses to view).

The first movie of this method was produced in 1915, before the first public release of a 3D movie in 1922, and the first colour film in 1935. Since then, the anaglyphic approach has made sporadic forays into the limelight between the 1950’s and now, with home releases for anaglyphic versions of films often being sold in the early 2000’s due to the development of the DVD.

However, various electronics companies and film-makers have been developing the new ‘polarized’ approach (requiring the ‘sunglasses’-style glasses) ever since it took off with 2009 hit film Avatar, and since then, films and TV channels in the format have become standardised, and home use of 3D is higher than ever before.

With the technology to mass produce and sell 3DHDTV’s in place since 2010, it is no surprise that all the major global electronics companies set about developing their own boxes to enter the emerging market. Below is a video of the latest plans for advancement – a 3DTV that does not require glasses. Although Toshiba currently have the shortest estimate for the release of a 3D Plasma TV (for 2015), other companies, such as Intel, are showing their current prototypes, as seen here:

3DTV – Wikipedia

Who Invented The Pencil Case

tenshi-neko-pencil-case-9-2bigOne of the key features of a well-prepared school-goer is a pencil case, and although the common student item can pretty much be defined as anything used to carry a collection of pencils, pens, and rulers (amongst other stationary), ranging from tin boxes to plastic zip-up bags. But while it is more widespread than that, with technically any bag or holding device able to hold such equipment, such a simple concept for a specific pencil case product had to have been invented by someone, but who was it, and when?

Despite the pencil case having been around for over 200 years, the cases as we know them today were not thought of until 1946. With a history of being made from precious materials (e.g. silver or ivory) and seen as a rich accessory to an expensive pencil or pen, the idea to create a more practical, ‘all-round’ feel for the object, came in 1946, when a patent application from 1944 was granted to American stationary expert Verona Pearl Amoth.

She created this new design of pencil case in order to prevent pencils from making gradual holes in clothing, with the added purpose of protecting the points on the pencils. The patent for an ‘All-Purpose Utility Pencil Case’ was granted, and the product has advanced from a slightly flawed ‘slot’ design to become an even more all-purpose product, and while the older approach (expensive materials for delicate stationary) still exists to an extent, it is the student-friendly product that dominates the market.

Pencil Case – Wikipedia

Who Invented Air Conditioning

800px-2008-07-11_Air_conditioners_at_UNC-CHA product in modern society that is often appreciated but rarely put in the limelight (unless it broken) is air conditioning, which has the ability to beat Mother Nature if in an indoor and controlled environment by making surroundings cooler (or in some cases, warmer). But who was it that first came up with this revolutionary concept of not having to live by the weather forecast?

Despite a history of cooling systems such as the fan being in place since Ancient Chinese times, and a 18th/19th century period of experimentation with speeding up the process of evaporation, the first major breakthrough in the field of air conditioning a we know it did not arrive until 1902. This was when recent Engineering Masters graduate (from Cornell University (USA)), Willis Haviland Carrier, developed an ‘air’ (temperature and humidity) conditioning system for his bosses at a printing plant in Brooklyn, who had seen their paper and machines (which was affected by outside heat and humidity) print uneven and misalignged ink patterns.

420px-Willis_Carrier_1915The new system allowed for more reliable prints, and Carrier would patent his ‘Apparatus for Treating Air’ (US Pat# 808897) (granted in 1906), and would be the first of many awarded to him (although the term ‘air conditioning’ came from textile plant worker Stuart H. Cramer, who added water vapour to the formula for controlled air). It was Carrier, though, whose work in the field would give him the nickname ‘The Father of Cool’.

In 1911, Willis Haviland Carrier (who claimed that he had once worked out the relative formula for ‘temperature and humidity control’ whilst waiting for a train) had released his ‘Rational Psychrometric Formulae’ to the ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers), allowing for a public and standardised method used in the air conditioning industry even today, which involves the transformation of hot air to water vapour, and the cooling of this vapour to create cooler air coming back out of the system. A video clip demonstrating this method can be seen below:

 

Industries then pounced on the chance to have such a system in place for their respective production lines, with film, foods (‘refrigeration machine’ (invented in 1921)) tobacco, textiles, and medical supplies, were all amongst products that saw significant quality improvement when produced in a controlled-air environment. This lead to Willis and six partner engineers forming the Carrier Engineering Corporation (in 1915) to develop air-conditioning technology and sell corresponding products. The company has been in a high rate of turnover ever since.

The technology would then move for human-populated environments, rather than just machines, and after rave reviews of the system being placed in a department store in Detroit, human cooling would develop into home use, and since 1928, houses have been able to control their own temperatures, with only world-wide economic problems halting the progress of this now-universal product.

Willis Haviland Carrier would unfortunately pass away in 1950, but the legacy of the ‘Father of Cool’ will live on in a ‘chilling’ manner, albeit positively…

Who Invented Scissors

800px-Fiskars-scissorsScissors are a useful tool when paper needs cutting or when hair needs a trim, but who was it that came up with the idea for this simple, yet versatile cutting device?

The use of ‘modern’ design scissors can be dated back to around the year 100, when ancient Romans used them for clothes-making and barber’s services. The simple design was well received, and can attribute the basic function to Archeimedies’ ‘lever’ concept several centuries before.

Despite this popularity with the Romans, the use of scissors never really took off until the 1500’s in Europe, where the great inventor Leonardo Da Vinci is mistakenly credited with the invention, where he merely seemed to re-introduce them to the world with a more updated design.

Since those times, scissors have now developed to a greater extent, with many different variations on the product now readily avaliable (whilst maintaining the baic concept), including designs made more specifically to a certain function (e.g. kitchen, hairdressing, etc.) to concepts such as children’s safety (plastic and more blunt), left-handed (reversal of blade positions), and stronger versions to cut material such as metal, as well as technologically aided scissors, like mechanical, or laser guided scissors.

The laser guided scissor is an approach that is said to give users more control over their cutting, enabling them to be able to cut in a truly straight line. Below is a video demonstrating this product:

Scissors – Wikipedia

Who Invented Post-It Notes

postitsFor businesses, busy households, and forgetful people, post-it notes can be a vital tool in helping to remember or identify things, and can also be used as a temporary file divider, amongst other applications. The often-bright colours can often draw attention away from their simple design that has become of use to so many over the years, but who came up with this product, and why ?

Despite seeming simple in design, there appears to be a fine art to getting the ‘sticky strip’ to be only on a small portion on the top of the reverse side, while also making it grip its designated surface enough to hang on, but also to not be strong enough to cause any permanent fixtures or damage. They are mass-produced now, meaning that it is a simple creation process, but the original science behind Post-it notes was seen as good enough to induct its creators to the National Inventor Hall of Fame.

These inventors were two reasearchers for stationary and office equipment company 3M during the late 1970’s. Their names were Spencer Silver and Arthur Fry.

In the 1960’s, Silver developed a form of glue that managed to have a low level of adhesion, but could not find any practical use for it, until colleague Fry, who wanted a way to keep track of the pages in his hymn book at church, tried the new glue alongside a paper bookmark after experiments in the company laboratories. The end result had the desired effect, as the new glue-paper could be removed (and reused) many times over before wearing out.

In 1977, their bosses at 3M took on the product to make and sell what they marketed as ‘Post-it’ notes, and after word eventually spread of the new product, it took America, and then the rest of the world, by storm, earning 3M a National Medal of Technology during 1985, and giving Fry and Spencer the recognition they deserved.

Below is a famous commercial that 3M made for their Post-it notes, featuring oversized versions of the product, and a collection of well-organised squirrels:

Post-it notes – Wikipedia