6 Inventions You Wouldn’t Have Without Women

Nationalgeographic.com

ENIAC computer
Two female computer programmers wire the right side of the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, an early general-purpose electronic computer, with a new program.

PHOTOGRAPH BY SCIENCE HISTORY IMAGES, ALAMY

You can thank female inventors for these now-everyday things.

Coffee filters. Monopoly. Windshield wipers. Wireless tech. These very different inventions share one thing in common: they were created by women. Despite their significant contributions, many of these female inventors have gone unrecognized.

In honor of International Women’s Day, take a moment to appreciate these six inventions we wouldn’t have without women.

Coffee Filters

Thanks to Melitta Bentz from Germany, you don’t have to worry about grounds in your cup of joe. In 1908, Bentz was in search of a better coffee-drinking experience. She was annoyed with the beverage’s bitter taste and floating grounds, so she began experimenting with sheets of blotting paper.

After punching holes in the bottom of a brass cup and lining it with the paper, she found a solution and created the paper coffee filter. She received a patent for her invention and started her own coffee-filter company from a room in her apartment.

Monopoly

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Magie came up with the first version of the game, patenting it in 1904 as The Landlord’s Game. She wanted to use the game to teach the masses about economic inequality, so she sold the patent to Parker Brothers for $500.

Thirty years later, a man named Charles Darrow renamed and redesigned her concept as Monopoly. He sold it to the Parker Brothers in 1935, with no mention of The Landlord’s Game.

Magie finally received credit for the game’s invention in the 2015 book, The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game.

Windshield Wipers

During a visit to New York City in 1902, Mary Anderson from Alabama noticed the delays caused by drivers stopping to clear snow from their windshields. She sketched a solution: a squeegee wiper with a lever inside of the car.

Anderson received a patent for the invention in 1903. However, since the automobile industry was just emerging at the time, there wasn’t much initial interest. Now drivers likely can’t imagine driving in the rain without the help of Anderson’s invention.

Wireless Technology

“The World’s Most Beautiful Woman,” Hedy Lamarr, is responsible for Wi-Fi.

The actress was known for her command of the big screen, but Lamarr was more than a pretty face. In fact, Hollywood bored her. During World War I, Lamarr co-created a “spread-spectrum radio” with George Antheil. The system was designed to guide torpedoes accurately via radio signal without the signal being jammed.

It’s now seen as a precursor to today’s wireless technology.

Programming Language and Computer Software

Rear Admiral Dr. Grace Hopper was a mathematician, physicist, and leader who helped create the first computer software. In 1953, she invented a program called a compiler, which translated human instructions into computer source code. This program was designed to be used by businesses for functions like payroll and automatic billing.

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