07 June 2010

Who on earth invented these?

There are many things we use every day without thinking. But somewhere, some bright spark must have thought of them first. So who invented the following things?


There are many things we use every day without giving them a second thought. But somewhere, some bright spark must have thought of them first. So who invented the following things?

Aspirin. Aspirin was first produced commercially in 1899. it is the most common pain reliever known today. The Bayer AG, in Germany, manufactured Aspirin in powdered form. The real name of aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid was first synthesized by a chemist from Alsace, called Karl Gerhardt. But its value as a pain reliever was only recognised in 1899, and by 1915, it was available in tablet form and it gained wide usage.

Glasses. These were originally invented by an unknown Italian glass worker from Tuscany between 1280 and 1286. The first eyeglasses were suitable only for the farsighted and it was only in the 15th century that concave lenses for the near-sighted appeared. Spectacles appeared in China in the 15th century. Benjamin Franklin, who did not like carrying two pairs of glasses with him, invented bifocals in 1785.

False teeth. The Etruscans were centuries ahead of their contemporaries in the field of dentistry. In about 700 B.C., they succeeded in making partial dentures. These early false teeth were carved from bone or ivory, or were taken from the mouths of young cattle. In the 18th century a Parisian dentist by the name of Pierre Fauchard made upper and lower sets joined with steel springs. This kept the upper set in position but gave the wearer problems when he tried to close his mouth.

Frozen food. Until the early 1900s, ice-cooled food and drinks were a luxury only available to the very rich. But in order to keep foods frozen, a refrigeration machine had to be developed which could ensure a stabilized temperature. James Harrison, a newspaper editor, patented his own ice machine in Australia in 1857. By 1873 he had perfected his method and held a party in celebration – at which he served meat which had been frozen for six months. None of the guests noticed. In 1924 Clarence Birdseye developed quick-freezing machinery and soon formed the General Seafoods Corporation.

The safety razor. The safety razor was invented by Jean-Jacques Perret from France and King Camp Gillette from the US. There are two components to the modern safety razor: a guard to keep the blade from piercing the skin and disposable blades. Salesmen Gillette turned shaving upside down in 1901 with his wafer-thin stamped-steel disposable blades. He had worked on the mechanics of the blade for six years. In 1903 he sold 51 razors and 168 blades, and in 1904 90,000 razors and 12,4 million blades.

(Source: The Peoples' Almanac #2: David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace)


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