Five Everyday Inventions that were Patented and/or Created by Women

Taliyah Jarrett

July 16, 2021

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Home Security System: Marie van Brittan Brown

Marie van Brittan Brown started her career as a nurse, while her husband worked as an electronics technician. They both worked during different times, leaving Brown alone late at night. And because she lived in a high-crime neighborhood, where the police were often slow to respond to emergency calls, Brown feared for her safety during those hours. So, in 1966 she and her husband invented a four peephole safety system consisting of a camera, two-way microphones, and television monitors (Lemelson). There was also a remote that enabled the system, and an emergency button that would alert the police. Three years later, they received a patent for their invention, and Brown was given an award from the National Scientists Committee for her creation. Her contribution is still credited to this day and is cited in 32 patent applications.

Caller ID, Touch-Tone Phone and Fiber Optics: Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson

Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson graduated as the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She and her colleagues conducted much successful scientific research, all of which helped with the creation of fiber optics, caller ID, the fax machine, and touch-tone phones. Not only did she help with creating everyday technologies, she also gained notoriety for her commitment towards Black representation in STEM. She strived to increase the number of Black students entering MIT, and because of her efforts, in just one year the number of Black students rose from 2 to 57 (National Women's Hall of Fame).

Windshield Wiper: Mary Anderson

While being driven around New York City on a freezing, snowy afternoon, Mary Anderson noticed that her driver could hardly see through the front windshield. And every time the driver opened the door to wipe away the snow, the inside of the vehicle would become increasingly colder. Not only that, but their current windshield wiping system was incredibly dangerous and worked poorly. So, after Anderson's patent for her windshield wiper came through, she turned to a Canadian company and asked for her invention to be created. Sadly, they refused and rejected her invention due to it having "no practical value." Ironically, the windshield wiper is now a ubiquitous invention.

The Electric Refrigerator: Florence Parpart

This essential appliance was created in the early twentieth century by Florence Parpart. She won another patent for the modern refrigerator, and with the help of her fiancé, a prototype was designed. Back in 1900, she won her first patent for a newer street-cleaning machine and began to use that entrepreneurial experience to sell her modern refrigerator.

Computer Software: Grace Hopper

After working for the U.S military during World War I and the Cold War, Grace Hopper moved to Philadelphia, where she became the head programmer for Remington Rand. There, she worked on the Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC), which is known to be the first all-electronic digital computer. It is also still used by NASA to communicate with astronauts. She and her colleagues would translate mathematical codes into binary and program other computers, as well as create Flow-Matic, a software that used mathematical symbols to create English commands (Yale News). She continued to create more word-based, user-friendly programs and eventually developed "common business-oriented language" (COBOL), which became a universal computer language.

Writer's Bio:
Taliyah Jarrett is a recent graduate from Ball State University where studied creative writing and screenwriting. In the future, she plans on obtaining her Master's in Fine Arts (MFA). Over the course of three years, Taliyah Jarrett has had her short stories published in two different literary magazines. You can follow her on LinkedIn to see her film reviews and other literary works.

Works Cited
A&E Television Networks. (2009, November 13). "Mary Anderson Patents Windshield Wiper."

BBC. (2017, September 4). BBC News. BBC 100 Women: Nine things you didn't know were invented by women.

"Grace Murray Hopper (1906-1992): A Legacy of Innovation and Service." YaleNews. (2017, February 27).

"Marie van Brittan Brown." Lemelson. (N.D.)
Rees, M. (N.D.). "Florence Parpart �" Patented the Modern Refrigerator." Magazine.
"Shirley Ann Jackson." National Women's Hall of Fame. (N.D.).

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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