Even though Philo Farnsworth, the inventor of electronic television, was disappointed by it for most of his life, he changed his mind the day he saw Neil Armstrong walk on the Moon thanks to his invention, telling his wife “this has made it all worthwhile”.
Jason Alexander Williams didn’t mess around when it came to killing rodents. His ‘animal trap’ (patented in 1882) shot them dead:
My invention relates to an improvement in animal-traps; and it consists in the combination of a suitable frame upon which a revolver or pistol is secured, a treadle which is secured to the front end of this frame, and a suitable spring and levers, by which the firearm is discharged when the animal steps upon the treadle, as will be more fully described hereinafter.
The object of my invention is to provide a means by which animals which burrow in the ground can be destroyed, and which trap will give an alarm each time that it goes off, so that it can be reset.
And his invention didn’t just kill rodents. Williams noted:
This invention may also be used in connection with a door or window, so as to kill any person or thing opening the door or window to which it is attached.
Stephanie Kwolek the inventor of Kevlar was working on finding a new, lightweight substitute for steel belting in automobile tires, on fears of a looming oil shortage and in anticipation of a market for lighter tires. What resulted was a new fiber five times stronger than steel by weight.
In 1908, German housewife Melitta Bentz was tired of ground coffee leftovers in her coffee cup. As a consequence, she invented the paper coffee filter, founded a company, and became the employer of her own husband, in a time when women weren’t even allowed to vote.
On November 10, 1903, Mary Anderson invented an automatic car window cleaning device controlled from within the car, called the “Windshield Wiper”.
The first streaming music service started in 1897. Users in New York could pick up their phones and connect to the Telharmonium, a central hub that would pipe music being played live by two musicians playing 24 hours a day.
In 1821, Thomas Jennings became the first African-American to hold a patent. He invented ‘dry scouring’, a method for removing dirt and grease from clothing that would lead to today’s dry cleaning.
Vesta Stoudt, who had the idea for duct tape, couldnt get her bosses at a military ordnance plant to take her seriously. So she sent a letter to FDR who recommended it to the War Production Board where it was approved for use on ammo boxes.
During the beginning of invention of electric appliances, they experimented with electric tablecloths. You could basically plug in an outlet anywhere on the table and the lightbulb would light up. Only downside was that you couldn’t spill any liquids on it.
In 1898, Nikola Tesla tricked an entire crowd into believing they could control a boat by shouting commands – in fact he invented Radio Control and piloted the boat himself.