The car heater, the fire escape, Kevlar, even beer… You didn’t know women invented all these things, huh? You’re in for lots of other surprises.
1. Alice Parker – Central Heating
Yes, the notion of central heating was actually conceived by a woman. In 1919, Alice Parker invented a gas-powered central heating system. The design itself didn’t see the light of day, but it inspired many future central heating systems.
2. Marie Van Brittan Brown – CCTV
Brown devised and patented a system for closed-circuit television security in 1969. Like the previous woman’s invention, this one was borne of need – police were slow or didn’t respond to calls for help in the New York City neighborhood where Brown lived. Her invention lies at the core of all modern CCTV systems used for police work and home security.
3. Dr. Shirley Jackson – Fax, Fiber Optic Cables, Caller ID…
Dr. Shirley Jackson was a theoretical physicist who received a Ph.D. from MIT in 1973, becoming the first black woman to do so. Her breakthrough research made the invention of the portable fax, solar cells, touch tone telephone, fiber optic cables, and caller ID and call waiting technology possible.
4. Ada Lovelace – The Computer Algorithm
Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage worked on an “analytic engine”, the precursor to the modern computer, and were able to program it with mathematical algorithms. Ada was the first computer programmer in history.
5. Caresse Crosby – The Bra
OK, it would be an exaggeration to say this particular invention changed the world; it only revolutionalized women’s lives. Crosby, whose real name was Mary Phelps Jacob, invented a “backless brassiere” that was the forerunner of the modern-day bra. Before the bra existed, women struggled with corsets – bulky, restrictive undergarments that even suffocated quite a few of them. Crosby took a few handkerchiefs and pins and some ribbons and made a lighter, more flexible undergarment, which she patented in 1914.
She started a company that manufactured and sold bras a few years after that. Eventually, Warner Brothers Corset Company bought her patent and started mass-producing bras.
5. Florence Parpart – The Modern Fridge
In 1914, Parpart invented the modern electric refrigerator. She also got a patent for a super-effective street-cleaning machine at the turn of the century.
Harriet Williams Russell Strong was an American social activist who invented a method for impounding debris and storing water and a method for dam and reservoir construction.
Yvonne C. Brill was a Canadian-American propulsion engineer and scientist who invented the hydrazine propulsion system. The aquarium was invented by Jeanne Villepreux-Power.