Women have done some amazing things.
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The Circular Saw was invented by Tabitha Babbitt, a weaver, who lived in a Shaker community in Massachusetts in the late 18th century. Babbitt noticed that men in her community were using a pit saw, which is a two-handled saw that requires two men to pull it back and forth. Though the saw is pulled both ways, it only cuts wood when it's pulled forward; the return stroke is useless.
To Babbitt, that was wasted energy, so she created a prototype of the circular saw that would go on to be used in saw mills. She attached a circular blade to the spinning wheel she used in her weaving, and the result was a device where every movement of the saw produced results. Because of her religious principles as a Shaker, Babbitt didn't apply for a patent for the circular saw she created.
Bette Nesmith Graham was the executive secretary for the chairman of the board of the Texas Bank and Trust in the 1950s when the electric typewriter had just been introduced. Noticing that fellow secretaries, when writing up documents, would have to completely re-type whole pages if they made one little mistake.
Inspired by workers painting a holiday display on her bank's window, Graham decided to simply add another layer of paint to cover any mistake, just like they did. Using her blender, Graham mixed together a water-based tempera paint with dye that matched her company's stationary. She took it to work and, using a fine watercolor brush, she was able to quickly correct her errors.
Soon, the other secretaries were clamoring for the product, which Graham continued to produce in her kitchen. Graham was fired from her job for spending so much time distributing what she called "Mistake Out," but in her unemployment she was able to tweak her mixture, rename the product Liquid Paper and receive a patent in 1958.
The Compiler and COBOL Computer Language
Admiral Grace Murray Hopper joined the military in 1943 and was stationed at Harvard University, where she worked on IBM's Harvard Mark I computer, the first large-scale computer in the United States. She was the third person to program this computer, and she wrote a manual of operations that lit the path for those that followed her. She also invented the term "de-bugging" as a way of removing glitches on computers - supposedly inspired by an actual bug infestation on some of the computers she was working on.
In the 1950s, Hopper invented the compiler, which translates English commands into computer code, allowing programmers to create code more easily and with fewer errors. Hopper's second compiler, the Flow-Matic, was used to program UNIVAC I and II, which were the first computers available commercially.
Not content to stop there, Hopper then oversaw the development of the Common Business-Oriented Language (COBOL), one of the first computer programming languages.
Hopper has been given many awards, and has even been honored by having a U.S. warship named after her.
In the early 20th century, Mary Anderson came up to New York City from Alabama on vacation. During her trip, Anderson took a tram through the snow-covered city, and noticed that every few minutes the tram conductor had to step out and clean the windshield in order to see. Since cars were so new at the time, no one considered it to be unreasonable, as it was "just something drivers had to deal with."
When Anderson returned home to Alabama she developed a squeegee on a spindle that was attached to a handle on the inside of the vehicle. When the driver needed to clear the glass, he simply pulled on the handle and the squeegee wiped the precipitation from the windshield. Anderson received the patent for her device in 1903; just 10 years later, thousands of Americans owned a car with her invention.
In 1964, Stephanie Kwolek was working as a chemist at DuPont. While researching ways to make a lighter fiber for car tires, she created a solution that was initially deemed too cloudy and fluid for use. When she insisted on allowing the solution be run through the spinneret, a machine that produces fibers, the spinneret operator almost refused to let Kwolek use the machine, because he was convinced the solution would ruin the machine.
Kwolek persisted, and after the spinneret had done its work, Kwolek had a fiber that was ounce-for-ounce as strong as steel. This material was dubbed Kevlar, and it's been used to manufacture skis, radial tires and brake pads, suspension bridge cables, helmets, hiking and camping gear, and, most notably, bulletproof vests.
Elizabeth Magie created The Landlord's Game to spread the economic theory of Georgism—teaching players about the unfairness of land-grabbing, the disadvantages of renting, and the need for a single land value tax on owners. Magie patented the board game in 1904 and self-published it in 1906.
Nearly 30 years later, a man named Charles Darrow rejiggered the board design and message and sold it to Parker Brothers as Monopoly. The company bought Magie's patent for the original game for $500 and no royalties.