International Women's Day is a day for the world to stop and think about all of the wonderful achievements of women and how much they have contributed to the world, thus enabling the progress of humanity. Among those achievements are some of the most transformative inventions, without which the world would be a very different place. Here are 10 of the biggest and best things that were invented by women that you may not know about. Remember - when women are strong, the world is strong. When women move forward, humanity moves forward.
Women are incredible inventors...
The Paper Bag - Margaret E. Knight, 1871
Margaret E. Knight was a cotton mill worker who invented the paper bag as we know it. She created a machine to mass-produce paper bags with flat square bottoms in 1868. Although paper bags already existed, they looked more like envelopes. Her patent was nearly beaten to the punch by a man named Charles Annan, who saw her genius design, but Knight filed a lawsuit and rightfully won the patent in 1871.
The Disposable Diaper - Marion Donovan, 1951
Marion Donovan— originally a Vogue beauty editor —was a Connecticut housewife and mother of two when she invented the waterproof diaper cover in 1951 and then later, the disposable diaper. Fed up with how messy cloth diapers were, she made a waterproof cover using the same material as shower curtains, changing parenting forever. Her designs were first sold at Saks Fifth Avenue and she sold the patent for $1 million. Next, she took it one step further, by inventing an entirely disposable model a few years later. The idea was taken up by Victor Mills who used it to found Pampers in 1961.
The Dishwasher - Josephine Cochrane, 1886
Josephine Cochrane invented the dishwasher when one of her servants chipped her heirloom china by mistake. Annoyed, Cochrane refused to let the servants handle the china anymore, but as an upper-class woman, she could not wash the dishes herself. Wondering why there wasn't a machine do it for her, she invented one combining high water pressure, a wheel, a boiler, and a wire rack like the ones still used for dish drying. Her first patent on the Garis-Cochran Dish-Washing Machine was filed in 1886.
The Circular Saw - Tabitha Babbitt, 1813
Tabitha Babbitt was a weaver who invented the circular saw after seeing wasted energy required by the two-man pit saw that only cut when pulled forward. Using her spinning wheel, she attached a prototype in 1813. She also used this invention for false teeth, machine cut nails, as well as an improved spinning wheel head with many more tools we use today. Although her Shaker community in Boston, Masechuses didn't let her patent her idea, they still reaped its benefits.
Retractable Dog Leash - Mary Delaney, 1908
Mary A. Delaney was a New York City Dog owner, who designed and patented the first retractable leading device in 1908. Her invention was the first leash that could attach to the dog's collar, enabling dogs to roam around more freely and their owners to retain some control. The first child harness was patented only 11 years later, which may or may not be a coincidence. Retractable Dog Leash - Mary Delaney, 1908
The Fire Escape - Anna Connelly, 1887
Anna Connelly, a New York City resident, was responsible for inventing a safer way for people to get out of their burning high-rise homes in 1887. With the growing New York City population and many slum fires, Connely realized that a fire escape made using the exterior staircase was very needed and so she filed a patent for her design. It prevented people from falling during an evacuation due to the steel railings and also provided a platform for firefighters to haul water.
The Windshield Wiper - Mary Anderson, 1902
Mary Anderson was in New York during the winter when she observed the dangerous conditions that a man was driving in during a sleet storm. He had both panes of a double front window open to stop the sleet falling onto his windshield. She returned to her home in Alabama shortly after her trip and was inspired to get working on a hand-operated device to keep a windshield clear. Anderson's design was met with initial skepticism because drivers thought it was safer to drive with rain or snow on the windshield than to manually pull a lever to clear it. But her design was later configured to the automatic wiper we know today.
The Paper Coffee Filter - Melitta Bentz, 1908
Melitta Bentz is the woman you need to thank if you're a coffee fan. The German housewife turned entrepreneur was frustrated by the difficulty of making coffee, finding that the espresso-style machines of her day left grounds in the drink, the percolators over-brewed her coffee and linen bag filters were almost impossible to clean. She experimented with various materials before realizing that using blotting paper from her son's school exercise book, placed inside a brass pot perforated with a nail was the most effective. She got a patent in 1908 and became hugely successful.
Computer Programming - Grace Hopper, 1944
Grace Hopper and Howard Aiken designed Harvard's Mark 1 computer in 1944, which was a five-tonne, room-sized machine. Hopper then went on to improve the compiler, which translated a programmer's instructions into computer codes. She also coined the terms "bug" and "debugging" after a moth infiltrated the circuits of Mark I.