Inventions That Changed The World
In 1983, then President Reagan signed a declaration proclaiming February 11 as “National Inventors’ Day”. This day was chosen precisely because it marks the birthday of one of the most well-know inventors, Thomas Edison. During his lifetime, Edison was a prolific inventor, amassing well over 1,000 patents, earning him the distinction of becoming America’s greatest inventor. There are many other inventors, some famous and some lessor known, but one thing is certain, their contributions have forever changed the way we live and work.
Today, let us take a closer look at several individuals whose inventions have since revolutionized industry and our existence, to the point we may be unable to imagine living without them.
History of the Air Conditioner
Air conditioning not only dramatically improved the way we live, but also allowed businesses to be more productive in any season and communities to grow in difficult climates.
During one particularly hot and humid summer in 1902, a Brooklyn printing plant owned by Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing & Publishing Company was experiencing printing issues, as paper shrank and swelled due to the fluctuating humidity levels inside the building. Willis Haviland Carrier was asked to engineer an “apparatus” for treating indoor humidity levels. Previous cooling systems were nothing more than crude refrigeration units, which intended to simply cool the air. However, Willis Carrier was the first person to design equipment that actually controlled humidity, while also cooling the air. His invention bestowed him the credit of inventing the modern air conditioner.
Modern industrial HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems have become major components of office and industrial buildings, hospitals, manufacturing plants and warehouses. Today’s industrial HVAC systems allow for the precise control of temperature and humidity, in an increasingly energy efficient and environmentally friendly manner. They also provide high indoor air quality by removing dust, carbon dioxide and other gasses, ultimately replacing building interiors with fresh, conditioned air. By controlling, rather than simply trying to cool, air, Carrier ultimately paved the way for businesses to operate comfortably and effectively, no matter the conditions outside.
History of the Combine Harvester
While Carrier dramatically improved indoor conditions, others have focused their efforts on outdoor innovations. In 1835, Hiram Moore developed and patented the first combine harvester, capable of reaping, threshing and winnowing. By combining three key harvesting tasks into one process, Moore’s combine harvester was the start of a highly successful piece of equipment which allowed farm operations to become substantially more productive and efficient by reducing the amount of labor required. Today’s combine harvesters have become more technologically advanced from the early days of Moore’s invention. They now incorporate numerous hi-tech features, including Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking to improve efficiency and guidance, as well as very comfortable cabin climate control systems.
History of the GPS
The Global Positioning System was developed by the US Department of Defense for military applications in the early 1970s. Once commercial use was allowed in the 1980s, GPS units quickly found their ways in an ever-increasing number of applications. Roger Easton, Ivan Getting and Bradford Parkinson are credited with inventing GPS, but there were many others who contributed to its workings, including Gladys West who pioneered the precise mathematical computations used by the GPS system.
Roger Easton was an American scientist and physicist who was the principal inventor of GPS. Ivan Getting was an American physicist and electrical engineer who helped to develop GPS. He was also a co-lead for the automatic microwave tracking fire-control system, which was of significant use during the Second World War. Bradford Parkinson is still alive and is an American engineer and retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, best known for his early contributions to the Air Force’s NAVSTAR program, which become the Global Positioning System. Finally, Gladys West is an American mathematician who in 1956 began working at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division. She is noted as the second African-American woman ever to be employed at the division. The popular movie “Hidden Figures” highlights Dr. West’s contributions, along with other women that conducted mathematical computing for the U.S. military.
GPS has become a critical service for today’s society and businesses. GPS systems help us with directions, and track our location through equipped smartphones or computers, providing us with pertinent weather, safety and even marketing information. This system has also paved the way for many industrial applications, ranging from Electronic Logging Devices which trucking companies use to keep track of their drivers and assets, to high-precision GPS mapping systems that benefit construction and mining businesses.
Celebrating The Importance of Innovation
From GPS-equipped combine harvesters to industrial HVAC systems, the world is full of inventions by individuals who used their genius, inquisitiveness and perseverance to create equipment and devices that have forever changed how we interact with the world.
As we celebrate National Inventor’s Day, take a moment to look around at all the equipment in your office and home: from computers and telephone systems to a simple renewable energy-powered coffeemaker. All these pieces of equipment and systems were invented by someone and they all allow us to produce more in business and live comfortably at home.
Jacklynn Manning is the Vice President of Marketing at Amur Equipment Finance, Inc. and a Certified Lease Finance Professional. Mrs. Manning is responsible for marketing its products and services to customers, partners and vendors alike, bringing more than 20 years of marketing experience to her role.