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Mon, 12/30/2019 - 12:07

Mary Phelps Jacobs was only 19 when she became dissatisfied with the confining corset-style under-garments of the era.  It was 1910, and the wealthy socialite wanted to wear a revealing gown to a debutante ball.  But her tight and restrictive corsets, a typical fashion of the day, poked out from under the plunging neckline.  

Struck with inspiration, she asked a maid to bring her two silk handkerchiefs and a pink ribbon and transformed them into a comfortable undergarment suitable for backless gowns.   

Mon, 12/30/2019 - 07:09

We are so pleased to be able to once again produce an issue of Invention & Technology, especially one chronicling the lives of 50 women inventors.

Sun, 12/29/2019 - 15:19

Photos of patent models at the Hagley Museum.

Photos of patent models at the Hagley Museum.

Sun, 12/29/2019 - 14:08

In early September 1900, a tropical storm crossed Cuba, its precise location and intensity largely unknown to weather services, and intensified over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It smashed into the Texas coast as a Category 4 hurricane, destroying the low-lying town of Galveston with a 12-foot storm surge. An estimated 8,000 people died.

Sun, 12/29/2019 - 12:10
Nanodropper Team
Mackenzie Andrews, Jennifer Steger, and Allisa Song of the Nanodropper Team. Photo by Matt Hagan/UW Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship


Sun, 12/29/2019 - 12:09
Photo of Brooke Martin, inventor of iCPooch
Name: Brooke Martin
Birthdate: Dec. 2, 1999
Hometown: Spokane, Washington
Education: Stanford University, Class of 2021, Majoring in Management Science and Engineering
Sun, 12/29/2019 - 12:08
Katy Flannery and Gwen Burlingame, Founders of Beckon Ice Cream
Name: Katy Flannery (left)
Born: December 11, 1989
Hometown: North Attleboro, Massachusetts
Education: Villanova University, Class of 2012, Nursing Major
Name: Gwen Burlingame (right)
Sun, 12/29/2019 - 12:07

As a child, Vera Rubin spent hours peering through a telescope at the stars visible from her bedroom window. Her parents weren’t sure what to do about this interest in stargazing. Her mother felt young Vera was wasting her time spending hours gazing at the stars through a little cardboard telescope. Her father – a mathematician and electrical engineer – recognized that she had a gift for science, but he knew women weren’t welcome in technical fields, and that she’d encounter hostility and rejection if she pursued her interest in astronomy.

Sun, 12/29/2019 - 12:06
Helen and Alfred Free in their laboratory
Helen and Alfred Free in 1948 at the Miles-Ames Research Laboratory (now Bayer), where they developed the first dip-and-read test strip.
Sun, 12/29/2019 - 12:04

Whether she was bicycling with a colleague’s child, cheering at a baseball game, or taking flying lessons, Virginia Apgar always kept the following things on her person: a penknife, an endotracheal tube, and a laryngoscope, just in case someone needed an emergency tracheotomy. Even when she was off-duty, she was on: “Nobody, but nobody, is going to stop breathing on me.”

Sun, 12/29/2019 - 12:03

The world was stunned when the Russians launched Sputnik in 1957 and successfully orbited the earth with two satellites. Luckily for America’s efforts to catch up, a mathematician named Irene K. Fischer had been working for five years to build the nascent science of geodesy, the measurement and representation of earth in three dimensions.

Sun, 12/29/2019 - 12:00
Essay adapted from 10 Women Who Changed Science and the World by Catherine Whitlock and Rhodri Evans (Diversion Books, 2019).

In November 1891, at nearly twenty-four years old, Marie boarded a train for Paris from her native Poland with

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 11:19
Photo of corn and grits
Sybilla’s method of pounding corn into a course meal to be boiled created grits, which is still enjoyed today.

Before Congress passed the Patent Act in 1790, inventors filed claims for their innovations with the King of England.

Sat, 12/14/2019 - 12:11

For as long as she could remember, Sara Blakely wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a trial attorney. But she didn’t do well on the LSAT and skipped law school. Her job at Disney World, clowning in a chipmunk suit, didn’t work out well either. So Sara sold fax machines door-to-door for seven years and discovered she was good at sales. She dreamed of marketing something of her own creation.

A pair of pantyhose, some scissors, and a good dose of ingenuity led Sara Blakely on the road to success.

Fri, 12/13/2019 - 19:30

Bette Nesmith Graham didn’t set out to earn millions: she just needed a way to correct her frequent typing mistakes as a secretary at the Texas Bank & Trust in Dallas in the early 1950s. In the process this single mother invented and patented Liquid Paper, a product that transformed the working lives of millions of typists overnight. Her invention’s effectiveness lies in its simplicity. “Like a safety pin or a rubber band,” she said, “we wonder how we ever got along before without it.”

Thu, 12/12/2019 - 06:20

IT’S THE OLD STORY: A glamorous movie actress and a brash avant-garde composer get together to invent and patent a device that controls torpedoes by radio. Naturally their foray into military-technology innovation affects the way defense satellites are designed in the next half-century.

Thu, 12/12/2019 - 06:12

IT’S THE OLD STORY: A glamorous movie actress and a brash avant-garde composer get together to invent and patent a device that controls torpedoes by radio. Naturally their foray into military-technology innovation affects the way defense satellites are designed in the next half-century.

Wed, 12/11/2019 - 11:35

It pays to be organized.

As a young information specialist with the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in the 1960s, Elizabeth Feinler was arranging an enormous amount of data using 3x5 index cards when she thought, “This work needs a computer.” She teamed up with a programmer to build an early bibliographic system on a time-shared computer. 

We hope you enjoyed this essay.

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