Where would we be without women?
For starters, we’d be drinking unfiltered coffee, manually wiping rain off our windshields, and you’d be reading this article on a phone or computer that’s hooked up to a wall.
We owe quite a lot to women, and NYMM would like to highlight some of the badass female inventors that have helped to make our lives that much better.
Without Elizabeth “Lizzie” Magie, we wouldn’t have those cherished memories of family game night where someone would angrily chuck the Monopoly board across the room. In 1904, Magie developed the first version of the beloved board game and patented it as “The Landlord’s Game.” Magie wanted to educate people about economic inequality and sold the patent to Parker Brothers for $500.
30 years after Magie sold her patent, a man named Charles Darrow modified her design and renamed it “Monopoly.” He sold the redesigned game to Parker Brothers in 1935, giving no credit to Magie for her original game. She finally received credit in 2015 in the book The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game.
Josephine Cochrane was known for her dinner parties. The wife of a politician, Cochrane’s held lavish parties in her beautiful mansion, using heirloom china allegedly dating back to the 1600s. Upon examining her dish ware following an event, Cochrane found that her servers had accidentally chipped some of the plates while washing them. It’s rumored that Cochrane ran through the streets following this discovery, screaming, “If nobody else is going to invent a dishwashing machine, I’ll do it myself!”
Her husband’s death, which left her with a pile of debt, motivated her to begin developing her idea for a machine that washes dishes. With the help of a mechanic named George Butters, Cochrane invented the world’s first dishwasher in 1886.
“Amazing Grace” Hopper enlisted herself in the U.S. Navy after World War II. She was assigned to work on a new computer, Mark 1, and it didn’t take long for her to become one of the pioneers in computer software development.
Hopper invented a program called the compiler, which was able to translate instructions into code that computers could read. This made programming quicker and ultimately revolutionized the way computers work.
Hopper was also the inventor of the term “debugging” when she removed a moth from the inside of her computer.
A German woman by the name of Melitta Bentz was the genius behind one of the greatest innovations in brewing. In 1908, Bentz wanted to improve her coffee drinking experience and was searching for a product that would alleviate the bitter taste and minimize the amount of coffee grounds floating around in her drink. When she discovered that no such product existed, Bentz decided to take matters into her own hands.
She experimented with blotting paper until she found a solution that would become what we know as the paper coffee filter. She received a patent for her invention and ran the coffee filter company out of a spare room in her apartment.
During the winter of 1903, Mary Anderson was a passenger in a car driving through New York City. She noticed that her driver had to keep opening the window to brush snow off the windshield that was obstructing his view. Every time the window opened, Anderson was met with an uncomfortable gust of cold air and thought to herself that there must be a better solution to this problem.
Anderson sketched a design for what is now known as the windshield wiper. She received a patent for the design, but was unable to make the invention a success at first because the automotive industry was just taking off and there was no market for such a device. Despite how popular the invention would become later, Anderson never saw any profit for her ingenious idea.
Hedy Lamarr, also known as “The World’s Most Beautiful Woman,” helped devise one of the most crucial inventions in technology. Lamarr was an actress who had gotten bored of Hollywood and wanted to challenge her brilliant mind to create something lasting – so that’s just what she did.
With the help of composer and inventor George Antheil, Lamarr helped to create a “spread-spectrum radio” that was used to guide torpedoes accurately via radio signal without being detected or jammed. The invention served as the basis for wireless technology that is now widely used today.
To read more the badass women of yesterday and today, visit NYMM’s Badass Women section.
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