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More articles from August 2006 newsletter
For those of us involved in the world of inventing, August is a special month – it's National Inventor's Month! We at InventHelp® are excited that this time is set aside to celebrate the achievements of the innovative and entrepreneurial, although we feel that 31 days is not nearly long enough to get the job done right!
Thousands of inventors have helped to shape the world into what it is today, and choosing the best ones is no easy task. Computers, microwaves and antibiotics are routinely listed among the best inventions of all time. While their importance is indisputable, the everyday inventions that make our lives easier often get overlooked. As proof that great inventions do not always have to be complicated, InventHelp® honors a few of our favorite simple pleasures.
Before the invention of disposable tissues, whenever you had a cold, you would simply blow your nose into your handkerchief, place it back into your pocket, and repeat as necessary – not exactly the best way to get rid of a bug. In the 1920s, Kleenex® Brand invented the facial tissue category, which was touted by screen legends Helen Hayes and Jean Harlow.
In 1926, Kleenex® Facial Tissue 200s were introduced in Canada to serve as a handkerchief replacement, much to the relief of the flu-afflicted. Ads that featured film superstars helped the brand continue to grow and expand its line. By 1928, Kleenex® offered cartons with perforated tops for easy access to tissues. Over the next several decades, more varieties, colors and decorative boxes found their way into the Kleenex® line. In 2004, Kleenex® introduced an anti-viral tissue that is designed to keep germs trapped inside the tissue.
Undoubtedly, the invention of the Kleenex® has shorted the length of a cold for many of us. Although, if you visit Grandpa, he may still be using his handkerchief.
The interesting story of the zipper is the perfect example of how a great idea can take a long time to take off. In the zipper's case, it took about 80 years.
Elias Howe, who also invented the sewing machine, received a patent in 1851 for an "automatic, continuous clothing closure," but the runaway success of the sewing machine left him with little time to develop this invention.
It wasn't until 44 years later that Whitcomb Judson developed a "clasp locker" that was similar in design to Howe's closing device. Judson and business partner Colonel Lewis Walker founded the Universal Fastener Company to manufacture the device. Even after its debut appearance at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, the invention of the zipper had yet to find commercial success.
The modern design of the zipper evolved when Swedish-born Gideon Sunback joined the Universal Fastener Company. He also created the manufacturing machine for the new zipper, which could produce several hundred feet of fastener per day.
The name "zipper" was invented by the B.F. Goodrich Company, who used the fastening device on a new type of boot. Aside from boots, it took another 20 years for the zipper to catch on in the fashion world. But, over the years, zippers have made their way onto clothing, luggage and countless other objects.
As you can see, it was a long way up for the zipper invention.
It's estimated that men will spend an average of five months of their lives shaving, so it's no surprise that one man, King Camp Gillette, took it upon himself to make the job easier!
When Gillette's home burned to the ground during the Chicago Fire of 1871, he became a traveling salesman. His work led him to William Painter, inventor of the Crown Cap, who told Gillette that a successful invention was one that was purchased again and again.
One morning, Gillette dreamed up an entirely new razor that could be used several times and discarded (see how clever that Kleenex® was?). In 1901, he enlisted the help of MIT grad William Nickerson to create a metal blade that was sturdy yet inexpensive. The disposable razor enjoyed a great boost when the U.S. government issued "safety razors" to the entire armed forces. In later years, razors with two, three, four and yes, five blades were introduced to the public.
While Gillette pioneered the invention of disposable razors, his competitor, Lieutenant Colonel Jacob Schick, beat him by a "hair" when Schick patented the first electric razor in 1925.
During National Inventor's Month, InventHelp® is proud to celebrate the inventors who have enriched our world with their discoveries. From everyday conveniences to modern miracles, inventions change the way people live. By the time we celebrate National Inventor's Month next year, who knows how many more amazing inventions will make life better for all of us?