February 16 is National Innovation Day. It celebrates the idea that innovation comes from the minds of many different people, in many different ways and in many different situations. Our history is rife with examples. The innovation of folks like Charles Darwin, Pablo Picasso and Marie Curie—just to name a few—changed the face of the world.
More common, of course, are the lesser-known innovators. These types have changed the world in a quieter way. But their vision often has more relevance in our daily lives. Here are but a few of those innovators who have made everyday living easier:
Baby Smooth. Although few today know who King Gillette was, he was famous in his time. Just about every man in early 1900s America would have seen Gillette’s face grace the packaging of the first disposable razors. They were popular, those razors. They cut shave times down. And they were safer than a straight razor. Gillette, a Chicago native, got a patent for his invention in 1899. He was also innovative in his sales technique, selling razors at a loss but making a profit with blade sales.
Approach with Caution. After seeing a crash at a busy intersection in Cleveland one day, Garrett Morgan decided things could be safer. And so he patented the first three-position traffic signal in 1923. The invention, which added a yellow light into the mix, was safer than earlier versions. Morgan also invented the first gas mask and founded a newspaper, the Cleveland Call.
Offering Support. In the early 1900s, Bostonian Mary Phelps Jacob invented the first modern brassiere—what we now call a bra. She hoped it would take the place of other more restrictive undergarments worn by women at that time. Several years later, she got a patent for the bra and soon started a manufacturing company. She later sold her patent to Warner Brothers Corset Company.
Keeping up Appearances. England’s Edwin Budding was inspired to design the first lawnmower in 1830. He got the idea after watching cutting machines at a fabric mill. Before Budding’s invention, lawns were cut by scythe or by the nibbling teeth of sheep. Other innovators would later change the lawnmower, adding different cutting blades and, eventually, a gas-powered engine.
No matter the endeavor, we here at Infinite Energy believe there are always new and better ways to get things done.