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Archives July - September 2000

By Mary Bellis

A bunsen burner is a flame making device that combines a flammable gas with  air, named after Robert Bunsen, the German chemist who introduced it in 1855. He did not really invent the burner, he took the design from Peter Desdega or Michael Faraday. Bunsen was the real inventor of the carbon-zinc electric cell (1841), the grease-spot photometer (1844), the filter pump (1868), the ice calorimeter (1870) and the vapour calorimeter (1887).


One of the oldest water clocks was found in the tomb of Amenhotep I, circa 1500 B.C. The inventor was unknown. Later named clepsydras  meaning "water thief" by the Greeks, who began using them about 325 B.C. Water clocks are stone vessels with sloping sides that allowed water to drip at a nearly constant rate from a small hole near the bottom.
"Bingo" originated from a game called Beano. Edwin S. Lowe was the person who renamed "Beano" as "Bingo".
The inventor of tow trucks as we know them is Ernest Holmes Sr.  During the 1900's, he built the first device known as an auto crane in his shop, located on Market Street in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
What we commonly call styrofoam, is actually the most recognizable form of foam polystyrene packaging. Styrofoam® is a  Dow Chemical Co. trademarked form of  polystyrene foam insulation,  introduced in the U.S. in 1954. Styrofoam® is a trademarked name, the real name of the product is foamed polystyrene.
Ray McIntire invented Styrofoam for the Dow Chemical Co.. McIntire said his invention of foamed polystyrene was accidental. His invention came as he was trying to find a flexible electrical insulator in the early 1940s. Polystyrene, which already had been invented, was a good insulator but too brittle. McIntire tried to make a new rubber-like polymer by combining styrene with isobutylene, a volatile liquid, under pressure. The result was a foam polystyrene with bubble, 30 times lighter than regular polystyrene. source The Detroit News more

GORE-TEX® is a registered trademark and the best known product of W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc.  The phrase "Guaranteed to Keep you Dry®" is also a Gore owned registered trademark, used in the GORE-TEX® warranty.
The trademarked product was introduced in 1989. The fabric, based on a Gore held patent for membrane technology, is specifically engineered to to be a breathable water and wind proof material.
The company was founded January 1, 1958, in Newark, Delaware, by Wilbert L. and Genevieve Gore. The current CEO is son Bob.
Albert J. Parkhouse, an employee of Timberlake Wire and Novelty Company in Jackson, Michigan, created a wire coat hanger in 1903, in response to co-workers’ complaints of too few coat hooks. He bent a piece of wire into two ovals with the ends twisted together to form a hook. Thomas Jefferson invented the wooden coat hanger.
A prosthesis is an artificial substitute for a missing part of the body. The origin of prosthetics as a science is attributed to the 16th-century French surgeon Ambroise Paré.
Richard Knerr, and Arthur "Spud" Melin invented this round toy, the hula hoop.
The aerosol spray can used for aerosol hair spray (among other things) was invented by Lyle David Goodloe and W.N. Sullivan.
The six stroke engine, the black box recorder (airplane), the pacemaker, the torpedo, differential gears, sound-proof windows, the periscope rifle, the superefficient solar cell and more are all Australian inventions.
The earliest bell foundings (where bells were cast from molten metal) are from the Bronze Age. Bells are one of the earliest musical instruments known.
Before 1450, nearly everyone thought that the earth was flat, that wheels drove the sun, stars and the moon. People also thought that the earth was the center of all stars which were stuck in some giant awning that covered the earth. Then along came the astronomer, Nicholas Copernicus, who proved that the sun was the center of the solar system and the sun, earth and the moon were all shaped like round balls. Copernicus had to have invented the first globe to demonstrate his ideas.
The first microphone was a telephone transmitter, invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. With the invention of the radio, new broadcasting microphones were created. The carbon microphone was invented in 1920. The ribbon microphone was invented in 1942, for radio broadcasting. During the 1970's, dynamic and condenser mics were developed, allowing for a lower level sensitvity and a clearer sound.
The Charles Machine Works, Inc. manufacture all Ditch Witch underground construction equipment. The company was started by Carl Frederick Malzahn under the original name of Charlie's Machine Shop. Charlie Malzahn's son Ed, an engineer, invented the compact trencher or Ditch Witch in 1949.
John Larson invented the polygraph or lie detector in 1921.
A method to adjust the angle of the slats (Venetian blinds) was a 1841, U.S. patent (#2,223) awarded to inventor John Hampson of New Orleans.
Fuji  introduced the disposable camera in 1986. We call them disposables but the people who make these cameras want you to know that they're committed to recycling the parts, a message they've attempted to convey by calling their products "single-use cameras."

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