(NEWS10) — Tuesday, February 11, 2020 is National Inventors’ Day, a day to celebrate the inventions which have shaped our lives and the genius minds who dreamt them up.
President Ronald Reagan proclaimed February 11, 1983 as the first National Inventors’ Day in commemoration of the birthday of Thomas Alva Edison, seen by many as America’s greatest inventor.
To celebrate National Inventors’ day, here is a list of inventors local to the Capital Region whose inventions have helped shaped our lives:
George Crum (Potato Chip): Legend has it that the potato chip was invented by chef Ceorge Crumb at the Moons Lake House in Saratoga Springs. When a diner complained his potatoes were soggy, Crum cut a new batch extra thin and fried them till they were crispy. The resulting dish was a hit.
Seth Wheeler (Toilet Paper): In 18912, Seth Wheeler of Albany was the first to receive a U.S. patent for toilet paper and dispensers. Though toilet paper has existed in some form since at least the ninth century. And yes, Wheeler’s original patent drawings show the roll dispensing from the TOP.
Hannah Montague (Detachable Shirt Collar): In 1820, Hannah Montague of Troy cut the collar off her husband’s work shirt, to allow her to wash the collar separately. Montague’s invention, the detachable collar, would spawn a booming industry producing shirts and collars in Troy, which became known as the “Collar City.”
Robert Hall (Various): Schenectady resident and General Electric physicist Robert Hall is credited with inventions which led to the creation of the microwave oven, electrified locomotive rails, TV remote control and checkout scanners.
Chester W. Rice (Modern Loudspeaker): In 1921, Rice is credited with creating the first “hornless loudspeaker,” which used a dynamic coil to amplify sound. It helped facilitate the spread of “talking” movie theaters and would pave the way for most of today’s modern speaker technology.
Club Sandwich: It’s unknown who specifically is responsible, but many believe this classic double-decker diner classic has its roots in Saratoga Springs. Legend has it the sandwich can be traced back to the famed Saratoga Club house, owned by John Morrissey. That gentlemen’s only club would later be sold to Richard Canfield and become what is now known as the Canfield Casino, which still stands today in Saratoga’s Congress Park.
Other local inventors:
Thomas Elkins (1818 – August 10, 1900) was an African-American dentist, abolitionist, surgeon, pharmacist, and inventor.
Ernst Frederick Werner Alexanderson (January 25, 1878 – May 14, 1975) was a Swedish-American electrical engineer, who was a pioneer in radio and television development.
John Wesley Hyatt (November 28, 1837 – May 10, 1920) was an American inventor. He is mainly known for simplifying the production of celluloid, the first industrial plastic.
Charles Proteus Steinmetz (born Karl August Rudolph Steinmetz, April 9, 1865 – October 26, 1923) was a German-born American mathematician and electrical engineer and professor at Union College.
Joseph Henry (December 17, 1797 – May 13, 1878) was an American scientist who served as the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.
Katharine Burr Blodgett (January 10, 1898 – October 12, 1979) was an American physicist and chemist known for her work on surface chemistry, in particular her invention of “invisible” or non-reflective glass while working at General Electric.
William David Coolidge (October 23, 1873 – February 3, 1975) was an American physicist and engineer, who made major contributions to X-ray machines.