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A woman created that! Inventions that changed how we operate today

In honor of Women's History Month, WFMY News 2 is spotlighting some of the items you probably use daily that were invented by women.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — In honor of Women's History Month, WFMY News 2 wanted to spotlight and celebrate 32 of the inventions we use on a regular basis that we owe to a woman.

  • AQUARIUM- Invented by Jeanne Villepreux-Power in 1832 - A French naturalist, Villepreux-Power was trying to prove that the paper nautilus grows its own shell. So to observe the creature for an extended period of time and to study marine life, she invented a glass aquarium.



  •  BEER-- Invented by women in Sumeria and Mesopotamia around 4,000 BCE. -- For centuries, only women were allowed to drink beer and operate breweries. They were also the only ones who could run taverns or brew beer.
  • BRA- Invented by Mary Phelps Jacob aka Caresse Crosby in 1914 -- While French designer Herminie Cadolle is credited with creating a bra by splitting a corset in two parts, New York socialite Mary Jacob patented a design for a more comfortable, backless bra in 1914. Years earlier, Jacob was preparing to go to a ball, but her corset poked out of her dress. So, with a needle, thread, some ribbon, and two handkerchiefs, she found a fix! Her design featured shoulder straps with wraparound laces fixed to the lower corners tied at the front to allow her to wear gowns cut down at the back.
  • BULLET PROOF FIBER- Invented by Stephanie Kwolek in 1965 - While searching for strong but lightweight plastics to use in car tires, DuPont researcher Stephanie Kwolek discovered what would become known as Kevlar. This revolutionary fiber has saved countless lives in the form of bullet-proof vests, and is also used in numerous applications, such as bridge cables, canoes, and frying pans.
  • CALLER ID AND CALL WAITING-- Invented by Shirley Ann Jackson between 1976 -1991 (during her time at Bell Laboratories) -- Shirley Ann Jackson was an award-winning theoretical physicist. Her contributions to the field of telecommunications led to the invention of numerous technologies, including caller ID and call-waiting, as well as solar cells and fiber optic cables.
  • CAR HEATER- Invented by Margaret A. Wilcox in 1893 - Taking advantage of the heat already generated as a byproduct of combustion, Wilcox invented a way to heat cars by channeling air over the engine and into the cab.
  • CIRCULAR SAW- Invented by Tabitha Babbitt in 1810 - While living in a Shaker community and working as a weaver, Babbitt watched people struggling to cut wood with a pit saw, which required two users and only cut in one direction. Determined to help, she attached a circular blade to her spinning wheel and invented the much more efficient circular saw. 
  • COFFEE FILTER- Invented by Melitta Bentz in 1908 - The German entrepreneur invented an easy, minimalist way to make coffee by placing it in a filter and pouring water over it.
  • DISHWASHER -- Invented by Josephine Cochran in 1872 - Though other prototypes existed, Cochran's design was the first that used water pressure to remove debris.
  • DISPOSABLE DIAPERS- Invented by Marion Donovan in 1950 - First ignored as “unnecessary and impractical” by the male manufacturers she pitched them to, Donovan took matters into her own hands and sold the disposable diapers straight to Saks Fifth Avenue.
  • ELECTRIC REFRIGERATOR- Invented by Florence Parpart in 1913 - In a time when people were still using ice-boxes, Parpart patented an electric refrigerator that she successfully marketed and improved upon for years. She also invented the street sweeper and
  • FIRE ESCAPE -- Invented by Anna Connelly in 1887- Tenement fires were much more deadly before Connelly invented an external metal staircase. In addition to saving lives, her invention also precipitated one of the first New York City building codes, which required residential buildings to have a secondary means of escape for emergencies.
  • FOOT PEDAL TRASH CAN- Invented by Lillian Gilbreth in the early 1900s-- Gilbreth was an engineer and psychologist. Her genius in the area of ergonomics brought us many valuable inventions, including the foot pedal trash can. She also created the L-Shaped kitchen and refrigerator shelving. She also had 12 children and her family was the inspiration for the book "Cheaper by the Dozen"
  • FRUIT PRESS -- Invented by Madeline Turner in 1916 -- Turner invented the elaborate machine with the ability to extract juice from fruits such as lemons, apples, and oranges.  


  • HOME SECURITY SYSTEM- Invented by Marie Van Brittan Brown in 1969 -- With police being notoriously slow to respond to calls in her neighborhood, Brown took matters into her own hands and created a home security system with closed-circuit television.
  • ICE CREAM MAKER- Invented by Nancy Johnson in 1843 - Johnson created a double-cylinder hand-crank ice cream machine. It could create two flavors that are frozen at the same time but in separate sections.
  • LIQUID PAPER- Invented by Bette Nesmith Graham in 1951 - First marketed as "Mistake-Out," Graham's home-made typewriter correction fluid was an instant hit among her fellow secretaries. After further experimentation, she perfected her recipe and Liquid Paper was born.
  • LOW REFLECTION GLASS -- Invented by Katharine Blodgett in 1935 --Before Blodgett's revolutionary non-reflective glass coating was invented, glass wasn't nearly as useful or reliable as it is today. Her invention has proven indispensable in the making of camera lenses, microscopes and eyeglasses.
  • MEDICAL SYRINGE -- Invented by Letitia Geer in 1899- Geer invented a one-handed syringe so medical professionals could stop using syringes that required both hands to administer injections.
  • RECELL AKA SPRAY ON SKIN -- Invented by Dr. Fiona Wood in 1993-- Dr. Fiona Wood started to work with Marie Stoner, a medical scientist, to develop a technique for growing skin tissue directly on burn patients. They launched ReCell, which is a spray-on skin cell solution.  
  • RETRACTABLE DOG LEASH- Invented by Mary A. Delaney in 1908 -- In Delaney's words, her invention of a leash you could shorten at a moment's notice was to prevent dogs from "running on the wrong side of lamp posts or pedestrians, thus causing much annoyance to the owner."
  • ROCKET FUEL- Invented by Mary Sherman Morgan in 1957 - Explorer I, the first satellite ever launched into orbit by the United States, owed its success to Hydyne, the improved rocket fuel that Morgan created during her time as technical lead at North American Aviation's Rocketdyne Division.


  • ROCK N ROLL -- Invented by Sister Rosetta Tharpe in the 1930s -- Sister Rosetta Tharpe was the first to mix folk music, gospel music, and blues with the rock and roll pulsating swing. Tharpe’s style is undoubtedly a predecessor to rock ‘n’ roll that influenced many music legends, including Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.  
  • SCIENCE FICTION -- Invented by Mary Shelley in 1818 -- Shelley’s novel entitled Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus, started a new genre that has remained popular for two hundred years. This was a significant feat for a woman born when writing was considered a kind of work exclusively for men and men alone.  
  • SHOCKWAVE/HULU-- Invented by Lisa Gelobter in 1995 -- Lisa Gelobter deserves a round of applause. Gelobter is the computer scientist responsible for developing the animation for making GIFs and other groundbreaking video technology such as Joost, Brightcove, Shockwave, and Hulu. A graduate of Brown University, Gelobter is currently the US Department of Education’s chief digital service officer. 
  • TEXT DONATIONS - Invented by Marian Croak in 2005 -- It was all thanks to Croak that you can simply text a code every time you want to make donations to charitable organizations.
  • TOILET PAPER HOLDER -- Invented by Mary Davidson in 1982 -- Davidson's invention, the tissue holder, featured a design that was an upgraded version of the traditional holder that ensured the accessibility of the loose end of bathroom tissue rolls all the time.
  • VOIP (VOICE OVER INTERNET PROTOCOL) -- Invented by Marian Croak in 2003 -- VoIP is the technology that lets you make phone calls using the internet. In 1982, Croak became a part of AT&T, and there, she invented the core technology that made it possible to use the internet to communicate through video and audio. If it weren’t for her, you wouldn't be able to have long-distance chats over Skype or connect with your colleagues via Google Hangouts. Croak has more than 200 U.S. patents.
  • WATERPROOF LEATHER PROTECTOR -- Invented by Patsy O'Connell Sherman in 1956 - While attempting to develop a new kind of rubber for jet fuel lines, Sherman and her lab partner Sam Smith accidentally discovered a waterproof, stain proof, insoluble polymer that eventually became Scotchgard.
  • WINDSHIELD WIPERS- Invented by Mary Anderson in 1903 - After receiving a patent in 1903, Anderson tried to sell her new windshield cleaning device to a manufacturer, who refused, stating that her invention lacked practical value. Her windshield wipers failed to take off before her patent expired and it was 10 years before a similar device became standard on cars.
  • WIRELESS TRANSMISSION TECHNOLOGY -- Invented by Hedy Lamarr in 1941 -- During World War II, Lamarr, who also happened to be a movie star, created a frequency-hopping communication system that could guide torpedoes without being detected. Her work paved the way for the modern invention of WiFi, GPS, and bluetooth.
  • WORD PROCESSOR -- Invented by Evelyn Berezin in 1971 -- In addition to creating the first computerized airline booking system, Berezin created the world's first word processor. Realizing that because of her gender she wouldn't be able to move up in the industry, she also founded her own company, Redactron, to get her inventions on the market.

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