Mankind is the lord of all things. It is the result of inventing a technology that overcomes the physical condition that is unfavorable compared to other animals with strong or agile bodies, but through constant research and effort. Use fire to light the darkness or use wheels to move heavy objects. Creating new technologies or things that have never existed before. That is the power of invention. The 19th is ‘Invention Day’. Sojo introduces the stories behind 10 inventions that have changed our lives more conveniently.
1. Construction: Elevator
The history of elevators is surprisingly long. The first to devise (research and come up with new ideas) the elevator was the ancient Greek mathematician and scientist Archimedes in the 3rd century BC. He invented an elevator in the form of a pulley that was used to fetch water from a well and lifted things up by attaching a rope to a pulley. Elevators for people appeared in France in the mid-17th century. At the time, King Louis XV built a “Flying Chair” at the Palace of Versailles and placed it outside the palace. When a person enters a chair with a pulley, it is operated by hand according to the king’s instructions. However, the elevator at this time was not safe because there were many people who died or were injured when the rope broke. In 1852, American inventor Elisha Otis added a fall prevention device to an existing elevator to increase safety. His elevator was installed at Hogwarts, a department store in New York, and became known worldwide and is still in use today.
2. Food: canned food
Canned food was invented in England in 1819. At that time, ‘bottling’, in which food such as meat was placed in a glass bottle and sealed with wax, was popular. However, the canned food is fragile and often injures hands, and in some cases the wax from the lid spilled into the bottle, making it impossible to eat. Canned food was invented because of the weather. When British engineer Peter Durant saw food in his canned food froze in the cold winter months, he filled tins with food and heated it on the stove. Durant got the idea and patented it right away. His canned food, which was called ‘food sealing container using tin cans’, enjoyed great popularity in England at the time, and developed into what it is today.
3. Text: Post-it
Post-it notes, commonly found on desks, on phones, and on bookshelves, started with adhesive. Spencer Silver, a researcher at 3M, an American company, was immersed in research to create an adhesive that could be easily attached to and removed from the notice board on the wall. In 1968, they succeeded in making a liquid adhesive, but the adhesive strength was weak and the paper fell off quickly. It was Art Frye, an employee of the same company, who recognized the importance of this adhesive. He had a habit of marking bibles on paper at church, and he thought of combining silver glue with the paper. Post-it notes, released in 1981 after 5 years of improvement, were not well received. “Where do you use these things?” was the evaluation. However, it soon became an indispensable item in the office. This is because it was perfect as a memo to simply attach to documents.
4. Clothing: Nylon
“Thinner than a spider’s web and tougher than a wire, nylon is made of air, water and coal. This is a miracle.” One day in February 1937, ahead of the birth of nylon, it was a phrase that appeared in an American morning newspaper. The textile that revolutionized 20th century clothing culture was created by a young chemist named Wallace Hume Carraders. In 1927, while he was immersed in the research on artificial rubber, he discovered a thread-like compound (a substance composed of two or more atoms in a certain ratio) and developed it to invent nylon, a mixture of air, water, and coal. It is tougher than silk, the material of fabric, and lighter than cotton, and was called a miracle material at the time. First released in May 1940, nylon stockings were a hit in department stores across the United States, selling 5 million pairs on their first day of release.
A reconstruction of a turtle submarine on display at the Connecticut River Museum.
5. Weapon: Submarine
Submarines move through the water like fish, performing various military and exploration missions. Today’s submarine is the “Turtle” invented by American David Buschnell. Standing in New York Harbor in 1775, at the height of the Revolutionary War, Bushnell was thinking about how to break through the sea and blow up enemy warships. Suddenly seeing a wooden barrel floating on the water, he thought of the principle of a submarine that controls the amount of water to float or sink a ship. Upon realizing the principle, the research proceeded in an instant, and the oval-shaped, single-person submarine ‘Turtle’, resembling a barrel, was born and was active in the War of Independence.
6. Transportation: car
The car had to hit the stinging gaze of its surroundings in the early days of its invention. In the 19th century, when horses and wagons were the only means of transportation, automobiles were very unfamiliar. In 1882, there was a strange house in the German town of Cansitat. It was a house that was lit up late into the night and only the sound of loud machinery could be heard. Neighbors reported that “a counterfeiter seems to be living there,” but police revealed that the owner of the house was Gottlieb Daimler, an engineer who makes gasoline engines. He “was just making gasoline engines.” That’s what young Daimler said to the police. He eventually built the first automobile in 1885. It is a car made by attaching a gasoline engine to a wooden frame in the shape of a horseless carriage. The company he founded, Daimler, later merged with Mercedes-Benz, founded by K. Benz, to become the present-day Mercedes-Benz.
7. Appliances: washing machine
Washing machines were born in New England in the 19th century. In the village of Shakur, there was a ‘laundry day’ where residents gather once a week to do laundry. Villager David Parker saw this and thought of a device to do the laundry, and after a while he completed a washing machine powered by steam. Parker visited a hotel in Philadelphia and encouraged him to use his own washing machine, but the hotel manager was so impressed that he fired 14 laundry workers on the spot. In 1908, Alba Fischer, an American, invented a washing machine named Thor with an electric motor. Since then, it has been continuously improved, and a timer was added in 1930 and a spin-drying function was added in 1950 to develop into today’s washing machine.
8. Medical: Endoscopy
The endoscope, a small camera that can see inside our body without surgery, is an invention that raised the level of modern medicine. In 1868, German physician Adolf Kusmaul devised a method for examining the stomach of a patient using a 47 cm long metal rod, but it was not widely used. It was because the patient was in pain when the metal rod was placed in the stomach. About 90 years later, Herschowitz, an American gastroenterologist, pondered how to develop the endoscope made by Kusmaul. He couldn’t think of a way to do it, so he wrapped his hands around his head, thinking about it, when he saw the hair tangled in his hands and got a hint. Fiberscope, an endoscope using glass fibers as thin and soft as hair, was born in 1958.
9. Daily necessities: paper cups
The paper cup was made by an ordinary student who had nothing to do with invention. In 1907, Hugh Moore, a student at Harvard University, noticed his brother’s bottled water vending machine. The ceramic cups used in vending machines were easily broken and became a problem. “It’s simple with an unbreakable cup.” As he thought over and over, he thought of a piece of paper that could not be broken.
The problem is that the paper rips when wet. After experimenting with numerous papers, Moore found that tablet paper did not tear when wet. Afterwards he made the tablet paper into a cup shape, and the result was a huge success. Regarding his paper cups, Dr. Samuel Crumbin of the American Institute of Private Health also commented that “the way to save humans from viruses is to use paper cups.”
10. Communication means: e-mail
Email was created in 1971 by Ray Tomlinson, a programmer at BBN Technologies. He had a habit of saving his daily routine to his computer every day. One day, he suddenly thought, ‘I want to send my records to another computer. It was also Tomlinson who introduced the ‘@’ symbol used in email. This method was introduced to distinguish the name of the mail user and the network.
When e-mail was first invented, no one was interested in its invention because computers were not widely available. However, as time passed, computers spread to businesses as well as homes, and e-mail received attention as a new means of communication. “I didn’t even think about how important this invention was, I just made it out of curiosity,” he recalls at the time. It is an invention born of curiosity.