Women's History Month & Some Life Changing Inventions

By Nabeelah Bulpitt on March, 26 2015
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Humankind have achieved many great things, with some friendly competition and rivalry going back and forth between men and women.

As March is Women’s History Month, we at Satchel wanted to express our appreciation for a number of admirable women who have contributed and produced some incredible inventions that are now necessities and requirements to our modern living.

Alice Parker – Central Heating

Our real appreciation and love for central heating becomes very explicit when it gives up on us, and we end up waiting hours and hours for it to be repaired, whilst reminiscing about heat and warmth and what it felt like.

In 1919, Alice Parker was struggling with keeping her house warm, and realised that the only way to do so would be to have a fireplace in every room, which would be costly and inconvenient. You would need endless batches of coal and firewood, the fireplaces would require maintenance and it would be an even greater hassle if your house had extremely big rooms.

After much thought she invented a system known as a ‘gas heating furnace’ which used a single source of heat that was generated through the air pipes around the house to provide warmth in each and every room. Her design led to our much loved central heating systems.

Margaret A Wilcox – Car Heaters

In 1893, automobiles were fast becoming a revelation. The days of being transported via horse and carriage were coming to an end, and the method of travelling by ‘cars’ was increasing.

Yet the exclusivity of owning an automobile was predominant amongst the wealthy and aristocratic, and the transportation for everyone else from one place to another come in the form of a ‘metal box with manual windows’ and was rather cold.

Margaret A Wilcox solved the problem by using the opening of the engine to release hot air into the car to keep warm; her discovery and invention has provided the groundwork for our internal car heaters today!

Mary Anderson – Windscreen Wipers

Mary Anderson was once riding a streetcar in frosty conditions and realised the driver was unable to see out of the windscreen! In order to clear the screen of frost, sleet and rain, the driver would have to open the windows to try and clear the screen; letting in gusts of wind, blasts of snow and rain, without necessarily making the slightest bit of difference to the condition of the windscreen at all!

This immediately got Mary thinking of a device that could aid in this task and her solution consisted of wiper arms made of wood and rubber attached to levers located near the steering wheel that could be pulled back and forth to clear the screen. Thus we now have windscreen wipers!

Marie Van Brittan Brown – CCTV

In 1969 Marie Van Brittan Brown and her husband grew tired of the increasing crime rates in their area and the slow response of the police enforcement to any acts of violence within the area, so they decided to take matter into their own hands.

They formulated a system consisting of several motorised cameras with the images shown on a remote monitor; they installed a remote control operated door and an audio video alarm system so that they were able to see who was at the door, resulting in any unwanted guest left out in the cold. They penned the name ‘closed circuit television security systems’ now known as CCTV!

On a lighter but still life altering note…

Nancy Johnson – Ice Cream Maker

In 1846 Nancy Johnson changed the way of making and storing ice cream. Nancy created a manual device with an outer wooden pail containing crushed ice and the inner cylinder carrying the ice cream mix where a movable crank and centre paddle would be used to churn and stir the ice cream whilst keeping it cold and frozen.

This device was so outstanding that it is still used today, making ice cream constantly accessible whenever we want it!

Ruth Wakefield – Chocolate Chip Cookies

In the year 1930, Ruth Wakefield was cooking up a batch of cookies for her guests when she discovered that she was completely out of cooking chocolate! Finding herself in a sticky situation, she decided to improvise and use broken pieces of Nestle’s semi-sweet chocolate, thinking that the chocolate pieces would melt into the dough and make chocolate cookies.

She was greatly surprised when she opened the door of the over to discover that the chocolate pieces had not melted, leaving chips of chocolate sparsely scattered over her cookies. There came the creation of ‘chocolate chip cookies’.


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