7 Amazing Inventions Created By Women

Men have always claimed the reputation of being the big idea guys, the inventors. Between Edison, Tesla, and Galileo, men seem to take up all the room in the Hall Of People Who Create Stuff. But that’s so far from the truth. Women have contributed huge innovations and are responsible for some of the best reasons why it’s great living in the modern age. Here are seven amazing inventions created by women.

1. Car Heater

Although the invention of the modern car can best be traced to Karl Benz (of Mercedes Benz fame), we’ve seen what early cars look like: no roofs, no windshields (people wore driver’s goggles instead), and getting a face full of wind whenever you got into second gear.

It might interest you to know that the car heater was developed by Margaret Wilcox in the late 1890s. Not only did it keep the driver and passengers warm, it drew heat off the engine and made the engines less likely to overheat.

2. Windshield Wiper

Another great car innovation was created by Mary Anderson in 1903. When the windshield was eventually adopted as part of an automobile, in any kind of wet weather the driver would have to stop frequently to clean off the glass. Ms. Anderson designed and patented the little arm with the squeegee to do it for you.

Closed-Circuit Security Cameras

3. Fire Escape Bridge

As cities grew in the late 1800s and buildings grew taller, fire hazards became even more common. The fire escapes of the day only allowed people to travel upward or downward, allowing no escape from the burning building if the lower levels caught on fire first. So, Anna Connelly designed the fire escape bridge. Patented in 1887, her invention allowed people to escape from the rooftop of a burning building to the building next door, where they could safely exit to the ground level.

4. Closed-Circuit Security System

Another problem with large urban areas was the fact that when crime or suspicious behavior occurred, there were often no witnesses willing to talk or the police didn’t arrive in a timely manner. In 1966, African-American inventor Marie Van Brittan Brown and her husband Albert Brown patented the first closed-circuit security system, allowing residents to monitor who was outside their door with a camera and view them safely from inside the house on a television monitor. She also invented a remote control lock for doors and a two-way microphone to speak to people outside the house. Her system was later adapted and is now used in home security and public places everywhere.

5. Kevlar

Speaking of security, there’s one thing that no police officer can be without today. It, too, was invented by a woman. Stephanie Kwolek, a chemical researcher, created the polymer that when woven into a fabric is 200 times stronger than steel and can stop a bullet. That material is called Kevlar, and on top of being used in bulletproof vests, it can be found in over 200 products from armored cars and airplanes to skis and tennis rackets.

Dr. Grace Hopper. Image: Vassar

6. Computer Programming

When it comes to computers, you might think of Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, but the concept of computer programming was first realized by a brilliant mathematician named Ada Lovelace, who saw the potential for computers (theoretical machines in her day) to go beyond purely calculatory functions and published the first computer algorithm in 1843, about a 100 years before computers could be truly realized.

The first computer programming language, which eventually developed into COBOL (still used today), was invented by Dr. Grace Hopper in 1953. A naval officer who eventually reached the rank of real admiral, she is also credited with coining the term “bug” for a programming problem, when a malfunction was traced to an actual moth that had gotten itself jammed in the system.

7. Brown Paper Bag

What could be more prevalent than the humble brown paper bag? Margaret Knight created the machine that produces square bottom bags that no proper grocery store should be without. Unfortunately, before she could patent the idea, a man named Charles Annan stole it and built it for himself. She took him to court, where he claimed that no woman could design such a complex machine – whereupon she produced her original work and the court saw fit to award her the patent she rightfully earned.