Innovative Inventors

The first patent for a dishwasher was issued in 1886.

Take a look around you. Everything you are sitting on, holding, and looking at was invented by someone! Do you ever wonder how people get ideas to invent new things?

Inventors and engineers follow a process similar to the engineering design process you use in science class. Inventors and engineers start by identifying a problem. They need to define limitations, or things that might limit their design. Then, they brainstorm possible ideas. The next step is to build and test a model. This process is often thought of as a loop since it can take many trials to successfully build a solution that works. Inventors need to protect their ideas. To do this, they apply for patents. A patent is a document that gives the inventor legal rights to protect their invention for a period of time. Let’s take a look at how two inventors were inspired to make something new!

Josephine Cochrane invented the dishwasher. Her dishes would get chipped from being washed by hand. This was a problem she wanted to solve. She built a machine that could safely wash dishes without them bumping into each other. She designed a dishrack that held dirty dishes in place with wire compartments to protect the dishes. The dishrack was placed in a wheel that laid flat in a boiler. As the wheel turned, hot soapy water was poured over the dishes. Due to a lack of hot water in homes, dishwashers used to only be common in hotels and restaurants. Today, you can find dishwashers in most homes.

The first patent for windshield wipers was issued in 1903.

Mary Anderson invented windshield wipers. She was taking a tour of New York City in a trolley car during bad weather. She noticed the driver couldn’t clearly see the road when the windshield was covered in sleet. This gave her the idea to design something a driver could control from inside a vehicle to safely clean a windshield. She designed a set of spring-loaded wiper arms made from wood and rubber. A driver could pull a lever from inside a vehicle and clear the windshield. Her idea didn’t catch on right away, however, windshield wipers are now found on all vehicles.

What Do You Think? Is there a problem you can solve by inventing something new?

Photo Credit: (t)Oliver Helbig/EyeEm/Getty Images, (b)Leslie Edwards/EyeEm/Getty Images