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Zoom Inventors and Inventions
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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
1300's and Earlier 1400's 1500's 1600's 1700's 1801-1850 1851-1900 1901-1950 1951-2000
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Women Inventors
Women in History
A Sampling of Women Inventors and Their Inventions

ANDERSON, MARY
The windshield wiper was invented by Mary Anderson in 1903 to help streetcars operate safely in the rain. In 1905 she patented her invention, which allowed the car operator to control the external, swinging arm wipers from within the car. Windshield wipers became standard equipment on cars a decade later. Anderson was from Alabama, USA.
APGAR SCALE
The Apgar scale is a standardized scale that is used to determine the physical status of an infant at birth. This simple, easy-to-perform test was devised in 1953 by Dr. Virginia Apgar (1909-1974), a professor of anesthesia at the New York Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. The Apgar scale is administered to a newborn at one minute after birth and five minutes after birth. It scores the baby's heart rate, respiration, muscle tone, reflex response, and color. This test quickly alerts medical personnel that the newborn needs assistance.
APGAR, VIRGINIA
Dr. Virginia Apgar (1909-1974), a professor of anesthesiology at the New York Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, devised the Apgar Scale in 1953. The Apgar scale is a simple, easy-to-perform, standardized scale that is used to determine the physical status of an infant at birth. The Apgar scale is administered to a newborn at one minute after birth and five minutes after birth. It scores the baby's heart rate, respiration, muscle tone, reflex response, and color. This test quickly alerts medical personnel that the newborn baby needs assistance.
BLODGETT, KATHERINE
Kathering J. Blodgett (1898-1979) was an American physicist and inventor who invented a micro-thin barium stearate film that makes glass completely nonreflective and "invisible" (patent #2,220,660, March 16, 1938). Blodgett's invention has been used in eyeglasses, camera lenses, telescopes, microscopes, periscopes, and projector lenses. Blodgett also invented a gauge that measured the thickness of this type of coating (which can be only a few molecules thick), called a "color gauge."
COCHRAN, JOSEPHINE
The first dishwasher was patented in 1850 by Joel Houghton; his machine was a hand-turned wheel that splashed water on dishes - unfortunately, it wasn't very effective at washing dishes. The first working automatic dishwasher was invented by Mrs. Josephine Garis (W. A.) Cochran, of Shelbyville, Illinois, in 1889. Her dishwasher was a wooden tub with a wire basket in it - the dishes went in the basket, and rollers rotated the dishes. As a handle on the tub was turned, hot, soapy water was sprayed into the tub, cleaning the dishes. Cochran's machine was first shown at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, Illinois. At first, her machine was only bought by some restaurants and hotels. Cochran's small company was eventually associated with the KitchenAid company. The dishwasher didn't become widespread as a labor-saving machine until the 1960s.
DISHWASHER
The first dishwasher was patented in 1850 by Joel Houghton; his machine was a hand-turned wheel that splashed water on dishes - unfortunately, it wasn't very effective at washing dishes. The first working automatic dishwasher was invented by Mrs. Josephine Garis (W. A.) Cochran, of Shelbyville, Illinois, in 1889. Her dishwasher was a wooden tub with a wire basket in it - the dishes went in the basket, and rollers rotated the dishes. As a handle on the tub was turned, hot, soapy water was sprayed into the tub, cleaning the dishes. Cochran's machine was first shown at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, Illinois. At first, her machine was only bought by some restaurants and hotels. Cochran's small company was eventually associated with the KitchenAid company. The dishwasher didn't become widespread as a labor-saving machine until the 1960s.
baby with diaperDISPOSABLE DIAPER
The disposable diaper was invented in 1950 by Marion Donovan. Her first leak-proof diaper was a plastic-lined cloth diaper. Donovan then developed a disposable diaper. She was unsuccessful at selling her invention to established manufacturers, so she started her own company.
baby with diaperDONOVAN, MARION
Marion Donovan (1917-1998) was an American mother, inventor, and architect who invented the disposable diaper in 1950. Her first leak-proof diaper were fast-selling "Boaters," plastic-lined cloth diapers (diapers lined with pieces cut from a shower curtain, and later with surplus parachute nylon). Donovan then developed a completely disposable diaper. She was unsuccessful at selling this invention to established manufacturers, so she started her own company, which she later sold. Donovan produced many other consumer-based inventions and held more than a dozen patents
ELION, GERTRUDE
Gertrude Belle Elion (January 23, 1918 - February 21, 1999) was a Nobel Prize winning biochemist who invented many life-saving drugs, including 6-mercaptopurine (Purinethol) and 6-thioguanine (which fight leukemia), Imuran, Zovirax, and many others. Elion worked at Burroughs-Wellcome (now called Glaxo Wellcome) for decades (beginning in 1944) with George Hitchings and Sir James Black, with whom she shared the Nobel Prize. She is named on 45 patents for drugs and her work has saved the lives of thousands of people.
GOODE, SARAH S.
Sarah E. Goode was a businesswoman and inventor. Goode invented the folding cabinet bed, a space-saver that folded up against the wall into a cabinet. When folded up, it could be used as a desk, complete with compartments for stationery and writing supplies. Goode owned a furniture store in Chicago, Illinois, and invented the bed for people living in small apartments. Goode's patent was the first one obtained by an African-American woman inventor (patent #322,177, approved on July 14, 1885).
HOPPER, GRACE M.
Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (1906 - 1992) was a US naval officer and mathematician who invented the computer compiler (called the A-O) in 1952. Her compiler revolutionized computer programming, automatically translating high-level instructions (easier to understand by people) into machine code (the cryptic, native language of the central processing unit). Hopper and a team developed the first user-friendly business programming language, COBOL (COmmon Business-Oriented Language). There is an unconfirmed story that Hopper determined than an error in the early Mark II computer was caused by a moth that was trapped in it; she then coined the term "computer bug."
HYDE, IDA HENRIETTA
Henrietta HydeIda Henrietta Hyde (1857-1945) was an American physiologist who invented the microelectrode in the 1930's. The microelectrode is a small device that electrically (or chemically) stimulates a living cell and records the electrical activity within that cell. Hyde was the first woman to graduate from the University of Heidelberg, to do research at the Harvard Medical School and to be elected to the American Physiological Society.
KARLE, ISABELLA L.
Isabella Helen Lugoski Karle (1921- ) is a American physical chemist who invented new methods of X-ray Crystallography. She used electron diffraction and then x-ray diffraction to study the structure of molecules. Karle developed a three-dimensional modeling process, enabling her to identify and show the structures of hundreds of complex and important molecules (including alkaloids, ionophores, steroids, toxins, and peptides [amino acid compounds]). Because of Karle's process, the number of published molecular analyses has jumped from about 150 to over 10,000 per year. Karle received the National Medal of Science in 1995. Karle is a senior scientist and head of the Naval Research Laboratory's (NRL) x-ray diffraction section in the Laboratory for the Structure of Matter. Karle's husband, Jerome Karle, is a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry.
KEVLAR
Kevlar (poly[p-phenyleneterephtalamide]) is a polymer fiber that is five times stronger than the same weight of steel. Kevlar is used in bullet-proof vests, helmets, trampolines, tennis rackets, and many other commonly-used objects. Kevlar was invented by Stephanie Louise Kwolek and was first marketed by DuPont in 1971.
KWOLEK, STEPHANIE LOUISE
Stephanie Louise Kwolek (1923- ) is an American chemist who discovered kevlar and many other para-aramid fibers. Kevlar (poly[p-phenyleneterephtalamide]) is a polymer fiber that is five times stronger than the same weight of steel. Kevlar is used in bullet-proof vests, helmets, trampolines, tennis rackets, and many other commonly-used objects.
LIQUID PAPER
Liquid Paper is a quick-drying, paper-colored (white) liquid that is painted onto paper to correct printed material. Liquid Paper was invented in 1951 by Bessie Nesmith (1922-1980). It was based on white tempera paint (Nesmith was also an artist). Nesmith was a secretary in Texas, USA, before the time of word processors. She began selling her vastly popular invention, and soon ran the very successful Liquid Paper company. Her son, Michael Nesmith, was a member of the rock group called the Monkees.
NESMITH, BESSIE
Liquid Paper is a quick-drying, paper-colored (white) liquid that is painted onto paper to correct printed material. Liquid Paper was invented in 1951 by Bessie Nesmith (1922-1980). It was based on white tempera paint (Nesmith was also an artist). Nesmith was a secretary in Texas, USA, before the time of word processors. She began selling her vastly popular invention, and soon ran the very successful Liquid Paper company. Her son, Michael Nesmith, was a member of the rock group called the Monkees.
RADIOIMMUNOASSAY
Dr. Solomon A. Berson (1919-1972) and Dr. Rosalyn Sussman Yalow (1921- ) co-invented the radioimmunoassay (RIA) in 1959. The radioimmunoassay is a method of chemically analyzing human blood and tissue and is used diagnose illness (like diabetes). RIA revolutionized diagnoses because it uses only a tiny sample of blood or tissue and is a relatively inexpensive and simple test to perform. Blood banks use RIA to screen blood; RIA is used to detect drug use, high blood pressure, infertility, and many other conditions and diseases. For inventing RIA, Yalow won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1977 (Yalow accepted for Berson, who died in 1972). Yalow and Berson did not patent the RIA; instead they allowed the common use of RIA to benefit human health.
WAKEFIELD, RUTH
Ruth Graves Wakefield (1905-1977) invented chocolate chips (and chocolate chip cookies) in 1930. Wakefield ran the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. Her new cookie invention was called the "Toll House Cookie." Her original cookies used broken-up bars of semi-sweet chocolate. Her cookbook, "Toll House Tried and True Recipes," was published in 1940.
WHITE OUT
Liquid Paper is a quick-drying, paper-colored (white) liquid that is painted onto paper to correct printed material. Liquid Paper was invented in 1951 by Bessie Nesmith (1922-1980). It was based on white tempera paint (Nesmith was also an artist). Nesmith was a secretary in Texas, USA, before the time of word processors. She began selling her vastly popular invention, and soon ran the very successful Liquid Paper company. Her son, Michael Nesmith, was a member of the rock group called the Monkees.
WINDSHIELD WIPER
The windshield wiper was invented by Mary Anderson in 1903 to help streetcars operate safely in the rain. In 1905 she patented her invention, which allowed the car operator to control the external, swinging arm wipers from within the car. Windshield wipers became standard equipment on cars a decade later. Anderson was from Alabama, USA.
WU, CHIEN-SHIUNG
Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu (Shanghai, China, May 31, 1912 - New York, USA, February 16, 1997) was a nuclear physicist who studied beta-decay (a weak interaction in which one of the neutrons in the nucleus of an atom decays into a proton and an electron; the proton enters the nucleus, forming an isotope, and the electron is emitted as a beta-particle). In 1956, Madam Wu did experiments showing that parity is not conserved in weak interactions (demonstrating parity violation in the nuclear beta decay in cobalt 60). Her experiments supported T. D. Lee and C. N. Yang's revolutionary idea that parity was not conserved in weak interactions (parity conservation had been a basic assumption in physics). Madam Wu worked on the Manhattan Project (a secret US project during World War 2 to develop an atomic bomb in order to defeat Hitler), developing a process for separating the uranium isotopes U235 and U238 by gaseous diffusion. She also helped develop more sensitive Geiger counters (devices that detect radiation). Madam Wu also studied the molecular changes in hemoglobin associated with sickle-cell anemia.
YALOW, ROSALYN S.
Dr. Solomon A. Berson (1919-1972) and Dr. Rosalyn Sussman Yalow (1921- ) co-invented the radioimmunoassay (RIA) in 1959. The radioimmunoassay is a method of chemically analyzing human blood and tissue and is used diagnose illness (like diabetes). RIA revolutionized diagnoses because it uses only a tiny sample of blood or tissue and is a relatively inexpensive and simple test to perform. Blood banks use RIA to screen blood; RIA is used to detect drug use, high blood pressure, infertility, and many other conditions and diseases. For inventing RIA, Yalow won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1977 (Yalow accepted for Berson, who died in 1972). Yalow and Berson did not patent the RIA; instead they allowed the common use of RIA to benefit human health.

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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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Clothing Communication Food Fun Medicine Science/Industry Transportation Undersea
African-Americans Women British Isles China France Germany Greece Italy Scandinavia USA/Canada
Guidelines on Writing a Report on an Invention





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