[Bryony Wharfe | Contributing Writer]
Everyone knows about Thomas Edison and his invention of the light bulb, Alexander Bell and his marvellous telephone, even Nikola Tesla who forged fluorescent light bulbs, X-rays, radios, lasers, wireless communication and limitless free energy (seriously this man is the bomb), but what about women? Which famous female inventors do you know about? None? One maybe two? Well here are seven of my favourites, and hopefully, they’ll become yours too.
Marie Van Brittan Brown
Brown invented the first home security system in 1966, receiving a patent (an exclusive right granted by a government to an inventor to manufacture, use, or sell an invention for a certain number of years) in 1969. The invention was a device that would have a camera in one place moving along four peepholes, and a monitor of its view in another place. Brown received an award from the National Science Committee, and her invention became the foundation for the modern closed-circuit television system (CCTV), that is widely used for traffic monitoring, surveillance, and crime prevention.
Dr Shirley Jackson
In 1973 Shirley Jackson, an American physicist became the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in nuclear physics. Her experiments with theoretical physics gave breakthrough results leading to many telecommunication developments including the touch-tone telephone, the portable fax, caller ID, call waiting and the fiber-optic cable.
America in the late 1800’s posed difficulties for women to make money, at the most women made $3 (£2.24) a week. However, Maria Beasley was not shy of superb inventions, which included such things as the barrel-hooping machine, an automated process to make wooden barrels gave her $20,000 (£14,919.81) a year, which according to measuringworth.com is now equivalent to between $431,000.00 (£321,521.87)to $33,200,000.00! (£24,766,881.61) Not only that, she also invented the life raft, foot warmers, and the steam generator!
In 1899 Geer invented the first one handed medical syringe, a design used widely in medical fields today.
Encouraged by her scientist mother when she was younger, Ada Lovelace worked alongside Charles Babbage at the University of London to help build an Analytical Engine, that would be programmed by her mathematical algorithms. Making her the first computer programmer.
This is one many of you may know, the bullet proof vest. Kwolek invented the fiber used within the vest known as Kevlar, it’s five times stronger than steel, and has over 200 other uses!
Mary Phelps Jacob (Caresse Crosby)
In 1910, bras didn’t exist, instead women wore restrictive corsets. Fed up of this Jacob asked her maid to bring some pins, ribbons and two handkerchiefs and which were used to create the first type of bra (probably more like a bralette at this point) was created, the “backless brassiere”.