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A Penny For Your Thoughts

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Where would we be without inventions like the parking meter???

So many visitors were taking his cigars, so Thomas Edison devised a plan to discourage the practice. He had several boxes of cigars custom-made with cabbage leaves. But when the offensive smelling stogies were delivered to his office, his secretary sent them on to his home where his wife went ahead and packed the items in his luggage, and the offensive items accompanied Mr. Edison on his business trip. This just goes to show you that even a genius can't outsmart his wife.

Henry Waterman, of New York, invented the elevator in 1850. He intended it to transport barrels of flour.

John Greenwood, also of New York invented the dental drill in 1790.

The corkscrew was invented by M.L. Bryn, also of New York, in 1860.

Electrical hearing aids were invented in 1901 by Miller R. Hutchinson, who was (you guessed it) from New York.

Dr. Jonas Salk developed the vaccine for polio in 1952, in New York (aaah!).

Four wheel roller skates were invented by James L. Plimpton in 1863. Can you guess where?

The first words that Thomas A. Edison spoke into the phonograph were, "Mary had a little lamb."

In the early 1800s, a French silk weaver called Joseph-Marie Jacquard invented a way of automatically controlling the warp and weft threads on a silk loom by recording patterns of holes in a string of cards.

In 1843, a mathematician, Ada Byron, published the first computer programs. She based them on Jacquard's punch-card idea. Her programs were for the first general-purpose mechanical digital computer, that was just invented by Charles Babbage.

As an advertising gimmick, Carl Meyer, nephew of lunch meat mogul Oscar Meyer, invented the company's "Wienermobile". On July 18, 1936, the first Oscar Mayer "Wienermobile" rolled out of General Body Company's factory in Chicago. The Wienermobile still tours the U.S. today.

Gutenburg invented the printing press in the 1450's, and the first book to ever be printed was the Bible. It was, however, in Latin rather than English.

Jeanne Pierre Francois Blanchard built the first parachute and tested it using a dog. He put the dog in a basket equipped with his invention and then dropped it from a hot air balloon. It was a giant step forward for aviation history, but a giant step backwards in establishing the dog as man's best friend.

The toothbrush was invented in 1498.

The waffle iron was invented August 24, 1869.

The alarm clock was not invented by the Marquis de Sade, as some suspect, but rather by a man named Levi Hutchins of Concord, New Hampshire, in 1787. Perversity, though, characterized his invention from the beginning. The alarm on his clock could ring only at 4 am. Rumor has it that Hutchins was murdered by his wife at 4:05 am on a very dark and deeply cold New England morning.

Craven Walker invented the lava lamp, and its contents are colored wax and water.

In 1916, Jones Wister of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania invented a rifle for shooting around corners. It had a curved barrel and periscopic sights.

The same man who led the attack on the Alamo, Mexican Military General, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, is also credited with the invention of chewing gum.

The parachute was invented by Leonardo da Vinci in 1515.

The guillotine was originally called a louisette. Named for Antoine Louis, the French surgeon who invented it. It became known as the guillotine for Joseph Ignace Guillotin, the French physician who advocated it as a more merciful means of execution than the noose or ax.

Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors.

Lazy Susans are named after Thomas Edison's daughter. He invented it to impress a gathering of industrialists and inventors.

Cyano-acrylate glues (super glue) were invented by accident. The researcher was trying to make optical materials, and would test their properties by putting them between two prisms and shining light through them. When he tried the cyano-acrylate, he couldn't get the prisms apart.

A device invented as a primitive steam engine by the Greek engineer Hero, about the time of the birth of Christ, is used today as a rotating lawn sprinkler.

A machine has been invented that can read printed English books aloud to the blind, and it can do so at speed half again as fast as normal speech.

Games Slayter, a Purdue graduate, invented fiberglass.

Teflon was discovered in 1938.

Alfred Nobel used a cellulose adhesive (nitrocellulose) as the chemical binder for nitroglycerin, which he used in his invention of dynamite.

At the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, Richard Blechyden, and Englishman, had a tea concession. On a very hot day, none of the fairgoers were interested in hot tea. Blechyden served the tea cold—and invented iced tea.

At the turn of the century, most light bulbs were hand-blown, and the cost of one was equivalent to half a day's pay for the average U.S. worker.

Camel's-hair brushes are not made of camel's hair. They were invented by a man named Mr. Camel.

Carbonated beverages became popular in 1832 after John Mathews invented an apparatus for charging water with carbon dioxide gas.

Western Electric invented the loudspeaker which was initially called "loud-speaking telephone."

Phone service was established at the White House one year after its invention. President Rutherford B. Hayes was the first to have phone service (1877-81).

Fifteen years after its invention in 1876, there were five million phones in America. Fifteen years after its invention, more than 33 million wireless phones were in the U.S.

According to U.S. law, a patent may not be granted on a useless invention, on a method of doing business, on mere printed matter, or on a device or machine that will not operate. Even if an invention is novel or new, a patent may not be obtained if the invention would have been obvious to a person having ordinary skill in the same area at the time of the invention.

While Eleanor Abbott of San Diego, California was recuperating from polio in the 1940s, she occupied herself with devising games and activities for youngsters who had polio. One of her inventions was called "Candy Land." Her young friends liked the game so much, she submitted it to Milton Bradley Company where it was immediately accepted. Since then, CANDY LAND has been recognized internationally as a "child's first game."

The modern zipper, the Talon Slide Fastener, was invented in 1913 but didn't catch on until after World War I. The first dresses incorporating the zipper appeared in the 1930's.

Bavarian immigrant Charles August Fey invented the first three-reel automatic payout slot machine, the Liberty Bell, in San Francisco in 1899.

In 1966, Elliot Handler, one of the co-founders of Mattel, Inc. and part of the Barbie doll empire, was the inventor of Hot Wheels®. Handler experimented with axles and rotating wheels being attached to tiny model cars. The innovative gravity-powered car he developed had special low-friction styrene wheels. Hot Wheels® have been clocked at speeds of up to 300 miles per hour.

Dr. John Gorrie of Appalachicola, Florida, invented mechanical refrigeration in 1851. He patented his device on May 6, 1851. There is a statue which honors this "Father of Modern Day Air Conditioning" in the Statuary Hall of the Capitol building in Washington, DC.

Electrical hearing aids were invented in 1901 by Miller R. Hutchinson.

Eli Whitney made no money from the cotton gin because he did not have a valid patent on it.

The British import Spirograph was introduced in the United States in 1967 by Kenner and has racked up millions of dollars in sales. It was invented by a British electronics engineer, Denys Fisher, who was inspired to create the toy while doing research on a new design for bomb detonators for NATO.

The Chinese invented eyeglasses. Marco Polo reported seeing many pairs worn by the Chinese as early as 1275, 500 years before lens grinding became an art in the West.

The classic toy wagon was designed by Antonio Pasin, who founded his company in 1918. Pasin wanted to give his wagons a modern flair, and chose the word "radio" for what was then a new form of communication, and "flyer" for the wonder of flight — hence, "Radio Flyer."

The coffee filter was invented by Melissa Bentz, in Germany in 1908. She pierced holes in a tin container, put a circular piece of absorbent paper in the bottom of it and put her creation over a coffee pot.

Ferdinand Porsche, who later went on to build sports cars bearing his own name, designed the original 1936 Volkswagen.

In 1889, the first coin-operated telephone, patented by Hartford, Connecticut inventor William Gray, was installed in the Hartford Bank. Soon, "pay phones" were installed in stores, hotels, saloons, and restaurants, and their use soared. Local calls using a coin-operated phone in the U.S. cost only 5 cents everywhere until 1951.

The first commercial vacuum cleaner was so large it was mounted on a wagon. People threw parties in their homes so guests could watch the new device do its job.

The first VCR, made in 1956, was the size of a piano.

Inventor Hugh Moore's paper cup factory was located next door to the Dixie Doll Company in the same downtown loft building. The word Dixie printed on the company's door reminded Moore of the story he had heard as a boy about "dixies," the ten dollar bank notes printed with the French word dix in big letters across the face of the bill by a New Orleans bank renowned for its strong currency in the early 1800s. The "dixies," Moore decided, had the qualities he wanted people to associate with his paper cups, and with permission from his neighbor, he used the name for his cups - "Dixie Cups".

It has been determined that less than one patented invention in a hundred makes any money for the inventor.

It was Swiss chemist Jacques Edwin Brandenberger who invented cellophane, back in 1908.

James J. Ritty, owner of a tavern in Dayton, Ohio, invented the cash register in 1879 to stop his patrons from pilfering house profits.

James Ramsey invented a steam-driven motorboat in 1784. He ran it on the Potomac River, and the event was witnessed by George Washington.

The monkey wrench is named after its inventor, a London blacksmith named Charles Moncke.

The paper clip was patented by Norwegian inventor Johan Vaaler in 1899. Because Norway had no patent law at the time, he had to travel to Germany where he received his patent in 1900. His U.S. Patent was granted in 1901.

The pop top can was invented in Kettering, Ohio by Ermal Fraze.

The power lawn mower was invented by Ransom E. Olds (of Oldsmobile fame) in 1915.

The rickshaw was invented by the Reverend Jonathan Scobie, an American Baptist minister living in Yokohama, Japan, built the first model in 1869 in order to transport his invalid wife. Today it remains a common mode of transportation in the Orient.

The shoestring was invented in England in 1790, Prior to this time all shoes were fastened with buckles.

The single blade window cleaning squeegee was invented in 1936 by Ettore Sceccone and is still the most common form of commercial window cleaning today.

The Super Ball® was born in 1965, and it became America's most popular plaything that year. By Christmas time, only six months after it was introduced by Wham-O, 7 million balls had been sold at 98 cents apiece. Norman Stingley, a California chemist, invented the bouncing gray ball. In his spare time, he had compressed a synthetic rubber material under 3,500 pounds of pressure per square inch, and eventually created the remarkable ball. It had a resiliency of 92 percent, about three times that of a tennis ball, and could bounce for long periods. It was reported that presidential aide McGeorge Bundy had five dozen Super Balls® shipped to the White House for the amusement of staffers.

Roulette was invented by the great French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal. It was a by product of his experiments with perpetual motion.

The 'spot' on 7UP comes from its inventor who had red eyes. He was albino.

Edison improved the incandescent lamp in 1879, but he didn't actually invent it. Sir Humphrey Davy is reputed to be the true inventor of the electric light. He passed electricity through a platinum wire and caused an arc lamp to glow as early as 1802. However, Davy did not pursue the discovery. By the time Edison entered the scene, arc lamps had been burning for several decades, but were limited by short life spans. Edison developed a long-lasting filament light in 1877, and in 1879 produced the first long-lasting light bulb.

The man who invented shorthand, John Gregg, was deaf.

The state of Maine was once known as the "Earmuff Capital of The World". Earmuffs were invented there by Chester Greenwood in 1873.

Because he felt such an important tool should be public property, English chemist John Walker never patented his invention — matches.

California police in the 1920s thought they had gotten the drop on a moonshiner. They raided what they thought was a still and found, instead, inventor Philo T. Farnsworth, working on something that was later to become television.

The hypodermic needle was invented in 1853. It was initially used for giving injections of morphine as a painkiller. Physicians mistakenly believed that morphine would not be addictive if it by-passed the digestive tract.

Thomas Edison’s first major invention was the quadruplex telegraph. Unlike other telegraphs at the time, it could send four messages at the same time over one wire.

Inventor Gail Borden, Jr. invented condensed milk in the 1850's.

After his death in 1937, Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of the wireless telegraph was honored by broadcasters worldwide as they let the airwaves fall silent for two minutes in his memory.

Bryan J. Patrie, a Stanford graduate student invented the Watercolor Intelligent Nightlight, which informs bleary-eyed midnight bathroom-goers whether the toilet seat is up or down... without turning on a blinding light. Patrie introduced the device in the early 1990's. He explained, "When you get within five feet of the dark commode, it will sense your motion. It looks to see if the room is dark. Then it looks upward by sending out an infrared beam. If it gets a reflection, it knows the seat is up. If it is, the red light comes on."

Pez was invented in 1927 by Eduard Haas, an Austrian anti-smoking fanatic, who marketed peppermint-flavored PEZ as a cigarette substitute. The candy gets its name from the German word for peppermint, Pfefferminze. Haas brought the candy to the U.S. in 1952. It bombed, so he reintroduced it as a children's toy, complete with cartoon heads and fruity flavors. One of the most secretive companies in the U.S., PEZ won't even disclose who currently owns the company.

In the year 1886, Herman Hollerith had the idea of using punched cards to keep and transport information, a technology used up to the late 1970's. This device was constructed to allow the 1890 census to be tabulated. In 1896 the Tabulating Machine Company was founded by Hollerith. Twenty-eight years later, in 1924, after several take-overs the company became known as International Business Machines (IBM).

The Nobel Prize resulted from a late change in the will of Alfred Nobel, who did not want to be remembered after his death as a propagator of violence - he invented dynamite.

The shoe string was invented in England in 1790. Until then shoes were fastened with buckles.

Germany holds the title for most independent inventors to apply for patents.

Noxema, the skin cream invented in 1914 by Baltimore pharmacist George Bunting, was originally sold as "Dr. Bunting's Sunburn Remedy." Mr. Bunting changed the name to Noxema after a customer enthusiastically told him the cream had "knocked out his eczema." Thus, the cream that "knocks eczema" became "Noxema".

George Eastman, inventor of the Kodak camera, hated having his picture taken.

Root Beer was invented in Biloxi, Mississippi, in 1898 by Edward Adolf Barq, Sr.

Because Napoleon believed that armies marched on their stomachs, he offered a prize in 1795 for a practical way of preserving food. The prize was won by a French inventor, Nicholas Appert. What he devised was canning. It was the beginning of the canned food industry of today.

Bavarian immigrant Charles August Fey invented the first three-reel automatic payout slot machine, the Liberty Bell, in San Francisco in 1899.

Venetian blinds were invented in Japan.

Benjamin Franklin was also the first person to try to electrocute a turkey. This experiment didn't work. The bird lived and it was America's Renaissance man who ended up absorbing the jolt. "I meant to kill a turkey," said the shocked inventor, "and instead, I nearly killed a goose."

The horse race starting gate is a Canadian invention, designed in the early 1900s by Philip McGinnis, a racetrack reporter from Huntingdon, Quebec. The device proved popular because it prevented arguments caused when horses started prematurely.

The Direct Action Committee, a group pushing for nuclear disarmament, invented the peace symbol in 1958. The forked symbol is actually a composite of the semaphore signals "N" and "D," to stand for nuclear disarmament.

Diet Coke was only invented in 1982.

Fifty years ago the B. F. Goodrich Company, the American corporation known for its automobile tires, thought it was really on to something. Its engineers came up with the prototype of an atomic golf ball. The ball, with a radioactive core, would be easy to locate with a Geiger counter if hit into the rough. But the company abandoned the invention as unworkable.

The wristwatch was invented in 1904 by Louis Cartier.

American sculptor, Alexander Calder, rigged the front door of his Paris apartment so that he could open it from his bathtub.

The first prototype of the sound-proof phone booth was built in 1877. Mr. Watson, Alexander Graham Bell's trusty assistant, used a bunch of bed blankets around a box. He created the booth to prevent his landlady from listening in on his conversations.

Some callers didn't like using the early phone booths because the doors would get stuck, forcing users to fight their way out.

The commercial wireless phone was first introduced in Chicago in 1982 by Ameritech.

The first mobile car phones were located in the car's trunk, taking up nearly half of the space.

When Alexander Graham Bell died on August 4, 1922, millions of phones went dead. In Bell's honor, all phones served by the Bell System in the USA and Canada went silent for one minute.

One of the first telephone answering machines was developed in Switzerland during the 1950's. It took three days to install.

Two days before Alexander Graham Bell married Mabel Hubbard in 1877, he gave her 99 percent of his company shares as a wedding gift. He kept a mere ten for himself.

Naugahyde, plastic "leather" was created in Naugatuck, Connecticut.

As of 1940, total of ninety patents had been taken out on shaving mugs.

It took three years of constant printing to complete Johann Gutenberg's famous Bible, which appeared in 1455 in two volumes, and had 1,284 pages. He reportedly printed 200 Bibles, of which 47 still exist.

Madame Alexander dolls were the creation of Beatrice Alexander Behrman, the daughter of Russian immigrants. Mrs. Behrman, whose father operated New York's first doll "hospital," started making dolls in 1923, and her creations soon became famous for their molded heads and limbs, lifelike eyes, rooted hair and elaborate costumes. Mrs. Behrman sold the company to several New York investors in 1988, two years before she died at age 95. But America's first and only remaining doll manufacturer has not compromised her high standard of quality and unique craftsmanship. Today, most of the company's manufacturing is still done in Harlem, New York, and more than 500,000 dolls a year are sold.

Dr. Samuel Langley was able to get many model airplanes to fly, but on December 8, 1903, Langley's "human carrying flying machine", the aerodrome plunged into the Potomac River near Washington D.C., in front of photographers who were assembled to witness the event. Reporters around the country made fun of the idea that people could fly and nine days later, Wilbur and Orville Wright proved them wrong.

The first product Motorola started to develop was a record player for automobiles. At that time the most known player on the market was the Victrola, so they called themselves Motorola.

When using the first pay telephone, a caller did not deposit his coins in the machine. He gave them to an attendant who stood next to the telephone. Coin telephones did not appear to 1899.

Spacewar is generally considered to be the first video game. Programmed in 1962 by MIT student Steve Russell, Spacewar was a simple game with ASCII graphics where two players would blast lasers at each other. At the time, the game only ran on massive, million-dollar mainframes the size of a small house. Spacewar was circulated to other computer labs across the country, but only nerdy college students with access to mainframes could play it.
1962 was also the year in which University of Utah student Nolan Bushnell received his first exposure to video games, playing Spacewar in the University's computer lab. Bushnell spent the next seven years trying to reproduce Spacewar on a smaller, less expensive computer. When it was finally completed in 1971, Bushnell's Spacewar variation (dubbed "Computer Space"), bombed. For one thing, people found it too complicated. Bushnell gave up on it, quit his job at Ampex and founded Atari in 1972. Bushnell originally wanted to name the company Syzygy, but the name was already taken by a roofing company. That same year, Magnavox quietly released the Odyssey, the first home video game system. It had a game similar to Pong, and Magnavox later sued Atari for "copying" it (they won).
Bushnell and Atari engineer Al Alcorn placed a prototype of their game in Andy Capp's Tavern, a Sunnyvale, California bar. Alcorn began work a home version of Pong. His project was code named "Darlene" after a female coworker that worked with Alcorn at the time. In the fall of 1974, Alcorn began developing the "Darlene" system. Several months later Atari released Home Pong.

While known as a painter, sculptor, architect, and engineer, Leonardo da Vinci was the first to record that the number of rings in the cross section of a tree trunk reveal its age. He also discovered that the width between the rings indicates the annual moisture.

Self-made millionaire Cyrus Field championed the idea of a telegraph from England to Newfoundland. Britain quickly agreed to subsidize. Congress went along by a one-vote margin. That was in 1856. Laying cable was tough. It kept breaking. The first line - two years later - died almost immediately. But 10 years later, there were two working lines. Communications changed forever.

The first lightweight luggage designed for air travel was conceived by aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart.

Donald F. Duncan, the man who made the yo-yo an American tradition, is also credited with popularizing the parking meter and introducing Good Humor "ice cream on a stick.

Eastman Kodak's Brownie camera cost $1.00 when it was introduced in 1900.

Sylvan N. Goldman of Humpty Dumpty Stores and Standard Food Markets developed the shopping cart so that people could buy more in a single visit to the grocery store. He unveiled his creation in Oklahoma City on June 4, 1937.

Frederick Winthrop Thayer of Massachusetts and the captain of the Harvard University Baseball Club received a patent for his baseball catcher's mask on February 12, 1878.

The first coin operated machine ever designed was a holy-water dispenser that required a five-drachma piece to operate. It was the brainchild of the Greek scientist Hero in the first century AD.

Ornithologists often use Scotch tape to cover cracks in the soft shells of fertilized pigeon eggs, allowing the eggs to hatch. Scotch tape has also been used as an anti-corrosive shield on the Goodyear Blimp.

Q-TIPS Cotton Swabs were originally called "Baby Gays." In 1922, Leo Gerstenrang, an immigrant from Warsaw, Poland, who had served in the U.S. Army during World War I and worked with the fledgling Red Cross Organization, founded the Leo Gerstenrang Infant Novelty Co. with his wife, selling accessories used for baby care. After the birth of the couple's daughter, Gerstenrang noticed that his wife would wrap a wad of cotton around a toothpick for use during their baby's bath and decided to manufacture a ready-to-use cotton swab. Gerstenrang developed a machine that would wrap cotton uniformly around each blunt end of a small stick of carefully selected and cured non-splintering birch wood, package the swabs in a sliding tray type box, sterilize the box, and seal it with an outer wrapping of glassine (later changed to cellophane). The phrase "untouched by human hands" became widely known in the production of cotton swabs.

The world's first underground railway, between Paddington (Bishop's Road) and Farringdon Street - with trains hauled by steam engines - was opened by the Metropolitan Railway on January 10th 1863. The initial section was six km (nearly four miles) in length, and provided both a new commuter rail service and an onward rail link for passengers arriving at Paddington, Euston and King's Cross main line stations to the City of London.

The City and South London Railway opened the world's first deep-level electric railway on December 18th, 1890, from King William Street in the City of London under the River Thames to Stockwell.

Today, the London Underground Limited (LUL) is a major business with 2.5 million passenger journeys a day, nearly 500 trains, serving over 260 stations, around 16,000 staff and vast engineering assets.

Average scheduled train speed (including station stops) 20.5 mph (33 kmh).

Maximum tunnel depth below mean sea level is 70ft (21.3m)

Maximum tunnel depth below ground level is 221ft (67.4m)

According to company lore, Ole Evinrude, a Norwegian immigrant, got the idea for an outboard motor while on a picnic with his sweetheart Bessie. They were on a small island in Lake Michigan, when Bessie decided she wanted some ice cream. Ole obligingly rowed to shore to get some, but by the time he made it back the ice cream had melted. So Ole built a motor that could be attached to his rowboat, and founded the Evinrude company in 1909.

The first underground and underwater rail system in the world, the New York City Subway, began operating in 1904. Almost 8,000 men participated in building the 21-mile (33.6 km) route. The project's chief engineer was William Barclay Parsons.

The safety pin was patented in 1849 by Walter Hunt. He sold the patent rights for $400.

An Englishman invented Scotland's national dress - the kilt. It was developed from the philamore - a massive piece of tartan worn with a belt and draped over the shoulder - by English industrialist Thomas Rawlinson who ran a foundry at Lochaber, Scotland in the early 1700s and thought a detachable garment would make life more comfortable for his workers.

It is recorded that the Babylonians were making soap around 2800 B.C. and that it was known to the Phoenicians around 600 B.C. These early references to soap and soap making were for the use of soap in the cleaning of textile fibers such as wool and cotton in preparation for weaving into cloth.

Disc Jockey Alan Freed popularized the term "Rock and Roll."

The patent number of the telephone is 174465.

George Washington Carver invented peanut butter.

The Roman civilization invented the arch.

Benjamin Franklin was the inventor of the rocking chair.

King Gilette spent 8 years trying to invent and introduce his safety razor.

Thomas Edison had a collection of over 5,000 birds.

Ben Franklin Facts:

- Benjamin Franklin had poor vision and needed glasses to read. He got tired of constantly taking them off and putting them back on, so he decided to figure out a way to make his glasses let him see both near and far. He had two pairs of spectacles cut in half and put half of each lens in a single frame. Today, we call them bifocals.

  • He was the youngest son of a youngest son of a youngest son of a youngest son.
  • He was the first American philosopher and the first American ambassador.
  • He invented the harmonica, the rocking chair, the street lamp, the lightning conductor, and the Franklin stove - to name a few.
  • He originated the first circulating library.
  • He is the originator of Daylight Saving Time.
  • He originated the first street-cleaning department.
  • He was the first reformer of English spelling.
  • He is the father of modern dentistry.
  • He organized the first fire department.
  • He was the founder of the Democratic party.
  • He established the modern post-office system.
  • He was a pioneer of the modern voting system for Congress.

Dutch engineers have developed a computerized machine that allows a cow to milk itself. Each cow in the herd has a computer chip in its collar. If the computer senses that the cow has not been milked in a given period of time, the milk-laden animal is allowed to enter the stall. The robot sensors locate the teats, apply the vacuum devices, and the cow is milked. The machine costs a mere $250,000 and is said to boost milk production by 15%.

On November 23, 1835, Henry Burden of Troy, New York, developed the first machine for manufacturing horseshoes. Burden later oversaw the production of most of the horseshoes used by the Union cavalry during the Civil War.

On the first neon sign, the word neon was spelled out in red by Dr. Perley G. Nutting, 15 years before neon signs became widely used commercially.

Out of the 11 original patents made by Nikola Tessla, for the generation of hydroelectric energy, 9 are still in use, (unchanged) today.

The windmill originated in Iran in AD 644. It was used to grind grain.

Russian submarine designers are building military submarines out of concrete. Because concrete becomes stronger under high pressure, (C-subs) could settle down to the bottom in very deep water and wait for enemy ships to pass overhead. Concrete would not show up on sonar displays (it looks just like sand or rocks), so the passing ships would not see the sub lurking below.

Two French toolmakers were the first engineers to put the engine in the front of the car. This gave the car better balance, made it easier to steer, and made it much easier to get all your luggage in.

The first umbrella factory in the U.S. was founded in 1928 in Baltimore, Maryland.

In the early 1950's, Denver architect Temple H. Buell, often called the Father of the Mall, conceived of and built one of the first shopping malls in the U.S.: the Cherry Creek Mall.

During one four-year period, Thomas Edison obtained 300 patents, or one every five days.

The Wright Brothers spent time observing the flight of the buzzard to help them solve the mystery of flight. They realized that the bird retained balance in the air by twisting the tips of it's wings. By creating a wing warping method based upon this observation, the brothers were able to obtain a remarkable degree of maneuverability.

The game that would become Scrabble was created by an unemployed architect, Alfred Mosher Butts in the early 1930s. He called it Lexiko, then Criss Cross Words and then sold the rights to James Brunot. In 1948 it was renamed Scrabble and was manufactured in a converted school house in Connecticut. Bruno sold the game to Selchow and Righter, who were bought out by Coleco in 1987, and in 1989 Milton Bradley bought it. More than 100 million Scrabble games have been sold worldwide.

Rubber bands were first made by Perry and Co. of London in 1845.

In 1832 the Scottish surgeon Neil Arnott devised water beds as a way of improving patients' comfort.

In 1769 the British designer Edward Beran enclosed wooden slats in a frame to adjust the amount of light let into a room. These became known as venetian blinds from their early use over Italianate windows.

George Seldon received a patent in 1895 - for the automobile. Four years later, George sold the rights for $200,000.

You could milk about six cows per hour by hand, but with modern machinery, you can milk up to 100 cows per hour.

Lillian Moller Gilbreth (1878-1972), the mother of 12 children, had good reason to improve the efficiency and convenience of household items. A pioneer in ergonomics, Gilbreth patented many devices, including an electric food mixer, and the trash can with step-on lid-opener that can be found in most households today.

Direct-dial, coast-to-coast telephone service began as Mayor M. Leslie Denning of Englewood, New Jersey, called his counterpart in Alameda, California.

Kleenex tissues were originally used as filters in gas masks.

The toilet was invented by an Englishman named Thomas Crapper.

Do vegetarians eat animal crackers?

Crazy but True