Timeline of United States inventions (1890–1945)

Last updated
Robert H. Goddard (1882-1945), the American physicist and inventor who built and launched the world's first liquid-propellant rocket on March 16, 1926. Goddard held 214 patents for his inventions and pioneering innovations in liquid-propelled, guided, and multi-stage rockets. Dr. Robert H. Goddard - GPN-2002-000131.jpg
Robert H. Goddard (1882–1945), the American physicist and inventor who built and launched the world's first liquid-propellant rocket on March 16, 1926. Goddard held 214 patents for his inventions and pioneering innovations in liquid-propelled, guided, and multi-stage rockets.

A timeline of United States inventions (1890–1945) encompasses the ingenuity and innovative advancements of the United States within a historical context, dating from the Progressive Era to the end of World War II, which have been achieved by inventors who are either native-born or naturalized citizens of the United States. Copyright protection secures a person's right to his or her first-to-invent claim of the original invention in question, highlighted in Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution which gives the following enumerated power to the United States Congress:

Contents

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

In 1641, the first patent in North America was issued to Samuel Winslow by the General Court of Massachusetts for a new method of making salt. [3] [4] [5] On April 10, 1790, President George Washington signed the Patent Act of 1790 (1 Stat. 109) into law which proclaimed that patents were to be authorized for "any useful art, manufacture, engine, machine, or device, or any improvement therein not before known or used." [6] On July 31, 1790, Samuel Hopkins of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, became the first person in the United States to file and to be granted a patent under the new U.S. patent statute. [7] The Patent Act of 1836 (Ch. 357, 5 Stat. 117) further clarified United States patent law to the extent of establishing a patent office where patent applications are filed, processed, and granted, contingent upon the language and scope of the claimant's invention, for a patent term of 14 years with an extension of up to an additional seven years. [6]

From 1836 to 2011, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has granted a total of 7,861,317 patents [8] relating to several well-known inventions appearing throughout the timeline below. Some examples of patented inventions between the years 1890 and 1945 include John Froelich's tractor (1892), [9] Ransom Eli Olds' assembly line (1901), [10] Willis Carrier's air-conditioning (1902), [11] the Wright Brothers' airplane (1903), [12] and Robert H. Goddard's liquid-fuel rocket (1926). [1]

Progressive Era (1890–1919)

Through most of the 1800s, Americans viewed the nation’s westward expansion as a symbol of its providence as a land of wealth and progress. But Indian tribes resisted the encroachment of settlers in their territories, setting off decades of violence. The federal government gradually pushed the tribes to more isolated areas, offering U.S. citizenship, but few opportunities, to those who agreed to accept allotments of land on reservations.

1890 Stop sign

1890 Tabulating machine

1890 Shredded wheat

1890 Babcock test

1890 Smoke detector

1891 Incandescent lamp

1891 Ferris wheel

The original Ferris Wheel at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago Ferris-wheel.jpg
The original Ferris Wheel at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago

1891 Dow process

1891 Tesla coil

1891 Rotary dial

1891 Pastry fork

1891 Schrader valve

1892 Bottle cap

1892 Dimmer

1892 Bicycle seat (padded)

1892 internal combustion-powered tractor

1893 Zipper

Three zippers: metal, plastic, and nylon Zippers.jpg
Three zippers: metal, plastic, and nylon

1893 Spectroheliograph

1893 Pinking shears

Early 1890s Phantoscope

1894 Stadimeter

Quartermaster 3rd Class Jaren Briggs uses a stadimeter to measure range during an underway replenishment aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf. US Navy 110505-N-BZ392-229 Quartermaster 3rd Class Jaren Briggs uses a statometer to measure range during an underway replenishment aboard the gui.jpg
Quartermaster 3rd Class Jaren Briggs uses a stadimeter to measure range during an underway replenishment aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf.

1894 Mousetrap

1894 Medical glove

A disposal surgical glove Surgical gloves 19.JPG
A disposal surgical glove

1895 Cyclocomputer

1895 Clipless pedal

1895 Volleyball

Three volleyball players performing a block Volleyball block.jpg
Three volleyball players performing a block

1897 Cotton candy

1897 Muffler

1897 Tapered roller bearing

1897 Ice cream scoop

1897 Charcoal briquette

1897 Billiards cue chalk

1898 Candy corn

Candy corn is a popular treat for American children during Halloween. Candy-Corn.jpg
Candy corn is a popular treat for American children during Halloween.

1898 Remote control

1898 Semi-automatic shotgun

1898 Semi-truck

1898 Filing cabinet (vertical)

1898 Installer bit

1898 Sousaphone

1899 Wing warping

Diagram of the Wright brothers' 1899 kite, showing wing bracing and strings attached to hand-held sticks used for warping the wing while in flight WrightBrothers1899Kite.jpg
Diagram of the Wright brothers' 1899 kite, showing wing bracing and strings attached to hand-held sticks used for warping the wing while in flight

1899 Flash-lamp

1900 Duckpin bowling

Duckpin bowling is a variation of bowling that uses balls which are significantly smaller than those used in ten-pin bowling, weighing 1–3 kg (2.2–6.6 lb) each, which are without finger holes. The pins are correspondingly shorter and lighter than their ten-pin equivalents. Hence, when the pins are knocked down, they resemble a "flock of flying ducks". While the rules remained almost identical to those of the Ten-pin game, one rule change was made: A bowler is allowed to use three bowls on each turn. Strikes would still be strikes and spares still spares, but when all pins were knocked down on the third ball, it counts as a score of ten. During the summer of 1900, some bowlers at Diamond Alleys in Baltimore, Maryland thought it might be interesting to resize the pins to match the 6-inch ball. Thus, the inventor of duckpin bowling, John Van Sant, used a wood turner to do exactly that. [69]

1900 Nickel-zinc battery

1900 Merrill-Crowe process

1900 Carbide lamp

1900 Fly swatter

1900 Thumbtack

1901 Key punch

1901 Mercury-vapor lamp

1901 Assembly line

1913 Ford Model T assembly line production A-line1913.jpg
1913 Ford Model T assembly line production

1901 Safety razor (disposable)

1901 Windowed envelope

An example of a windowed envelope DIN lang - Letter Window.JPG
An example of a windowed envelope

1901 Radio direction finder

A radio direction finder (RDF) is a device for finding the direction to a radio source. Due to radio's ability to travel very long distances and "over the horizon", it makes a particularly good navigation system for ships, small boats, and aircraft that might be some distance from their destination. The radio direction finder is the earliest form of radio navigation. It was first patented by American physicist John Stone Stone. He filed on January 23, 1901 and was granted the patent (U.S. Patent 716,134) on December 16, 1902. [83]

1902 Hearing aid

1902 Postage meter

1902 Teddy bear

1902 Periscope (collapsible)

1902 Mercury arc valve

1902 Air conditioning

Air conditioning units outside a classroom building 2008-07-11 Air conditioners at UNC-CH.jpg
Air conditioning units outside a classroom building

1903 Tea bag

1903 Offset printing press

1903 Airplane

The Wright Flyer II flying almost four circles over Huffman Prairie, about 2 and 3/4 miles in 5 minutes and 4 seconds on November 9, 1904. WrightFlyer1904Circling.jpg
The Wright Flyer II flying almost four circles over Huffman Prairie, about 2 and 3/4 miles in 5 minutes and 4 seconds on November 9, 1904.

1903 Windshield wipers

A windshield wiper with motorized arm Heckscheibenwischer kl.jpg
A windshield wiper with motorized arm

1903 Wood's glass

1903 Wood's lamp

Round hay bales near Elblag Canal, Poland 20070824 kanal elblaski 100 3905.jpg
Round hay bales near Elbląg Canal, Poland

1903 Baler (round)

1904 Automatic transmission

1904 Banana split

1904 Pantograph (diamond-shaped)

1904 Dragline excavator

1905 Batting helmet

A batter wearing a batting helmet BattingHelmet.png
A batter wearing a batting helmet

1905 Liquid ring pump

1905 Ice pop

1906 Typesetting

1906 Flushometer

1906 Audion tube

1907 Curtain rod

1907 Electrostatic precipitator

1907 Paper towel

1908 Candy apple

A candy apple Candyapple.jpg
A candy apple

1909 Skee ball

1909 Paper shredder

1909 Suppressor

1909 Gin rummy

1910 Headset

1911 Fifth wheel coupling

1911 Erector Set

1911 Binder clip

A single, large binder clip Binder clip.JPG
A single, large binder clip

1911 Automobile self starter

1911 Road surface marking

Dead Man's Curve along the Marquette-Negaunee Road in Michigan, shown in 1917 with the first hand-painted centerline M-15 centerline 1917.jpg
Dead Man's Curve along the Marquette–Negaunee Road in Michigan, shown in 1917 with the first hand-painted centerline

1912 Autopilot

1912 Electric blanket

1912 Traffic light (electric)

Traffic lights in Spain Semaforoencendido.jpg
Traffic lights in Spain

1913 Formica (plastic)

1914 Regenerative circuit

1914 Traffic cone

1914 Fortune cookie

1915 Skeet shooting

1915 Single-sideband modulation

1916 Hamburger bun

1916 Lincoln Logs

1916 Supermarket

The interior of a supermarket in Toronto, Canada LoblawsInside.jpg
The interior of a supermarket in Toronto, Canada

1916 Cloverleaf interchange

1916 Tow truck

1916 Condenser microphone

1916 Light switch (toggle)

An example of on/off toggle light switches mounted on a wall Scool 023.jpg
An example of on/off toggle light switches mounted on a wall

1917 Stream cipher

1917 Marshmallow creme

1918 Superheterodyne receiver

1918 French dip sandwich

1918 Torque wrench

1918 Crystal oscillator

1918 Grocery bag

1918 Hydraulic brake

1919 Blender

1919 Silica gel

1919 Toaster (pop-up)

Roaring Twenties and the Jazz Age (1920–1928)

1920 Eskimo Pie

1920 Jungle gym

1921 Polygraph

A modern polygraph system Polygraph1.jpg
A modern polygraph system

1921 Flowchart

1921 Adhesive bandage

1921 Headrest

An example of headrests in the interior of a BMW Alpina BMW Alpina B3 Biturbo E92-Leder-Vordersitze in Dakota-braun.jpg
An example of headrests in the interior of a BMW Alpina

1921 Garage door

1922 Blowout preventer (ram)

1922 Convertible

1922 Water skiing

A water-skier making a turn Water skiing 0754.jpg
A water-skier making a turn

1922 Radial arm saw

1922 Audiometer

1922 Neutrodyne

1923 Bulldozer

The Caterpillar bulldozer CAT Planierraupe 1.JPG
The Caterpillar bulldozer

1923 Cotton swab

1923 Instant camera

1924 Locking pliers

1924 Cheeseburger

A cheeseburger Cheeseburger.jpg
A cheeseburger

1924 Earth inductor compass

1924 Gas chamber execution

1924 Moviola

1924 Radio altimeter

1925 Automatic volume control

1925 Masking tape

1925 Reuben sandwich

1926 Tilt-A-Whirl

1926 Garage door opener

A residential garage door opener. The motor is in the box on the upper right. Garage door opener.jpg
A residential garage door opener. The motor is in the box on the upper right.

1926 Power steering

1926 Drive through

1926 Liquid-fuel rocket

Used during the Viking program, NASA's Titan booster, a two-stage liquid-fueled rocket, was attached to two additional solid-propellant rockets. Viking Pre-Launch Test Flight - GPN-2003-00047.jpg
Used during the Viking program, NASA's Titan booster, a two-stage liquid-fueled rocket, was attached to two additional solid-propellant rockets.

1927 Bread slicer

1927 Jukebox

1927 Garbage disposal

1927 Pressure washer

A power washer used to clean the surface of the EA-6B Prowler at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island US Navy 100910-N-9520G-011 Chief Aviation Electronics Technician (Sel.) John Thomson uses a power washer to clean the surface of the EA-6B Prowler.jpg
A power washer used to clean the surface of the EA-6B Prowler at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island

1927 Resonator guitar

1927 Kool-Aid

1927 Corn dog

A cross section of a corn dog Corndog Inside.jpg
A cross section of a corn dog

1927 Negative feedback amplifier

1927 Quartz clock

1928 Recliner

1928 Ice cube tray

1928 Bubble gum

1928 Clip-on tie

1928 Electric razor

1928 Iron lung

Great Depression and World War II (1929–1945)

1929 Freon

1929 Tampon (applicator)

1929 Eyelash curler

1929 Sunglasses

A pair of sunglasses for women Oakley ni Leola.JPG
A pair of sunglasses for women

1929 Frozen food

1929 Cyclotron

1930 Tiltrotor

An example of a tiltrotor in operation, the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey US Navy 061206-N-0458E-076 A U.S. Marine Corps V-22 Osprey helicopter practices touch and go landings on the flight deck of the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1).jpg
An example of a tiltrotor in operation, the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey

1930 Car audio

1930 Cheesesteak

1930 Bathysphere

1930 Chocolate chip cookie

1930 Thermistor

1931 Electric guitar

Body of an electric guitar Ibanez Studio ST-370 electric guitar body.jpg
Body of an electric guitar

1931 Strobe light

1931 Aerogel

1931 Bug zapper

1932 Miniature snap-action switch

1932 Toilet brush

1932 Golf cart

1932 Staple remover

1932 Radio telescope

Full-size replica of Jansky's directional radio antenna, serendipitously the first radio telescope Janksy Karl radio telescope.jpg
Full-size replica of Jansky's directional radio antenna, serendipitously the first radio telescope

1932 Tape dispenser

1933 Landing Vehicle Tracked

A Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT) unloading a Willys MB during World War II LVT-4 1.jpg
A Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT) unloading a Willys MB during World War II

1933 Multiplane camera

1933 Frequency modulation

1933 Impact sprinkler

A full impact sprinkler watering a lawn Sprinkler.gif
A full impact sprinkler watering a lawn

1934 Trampoline (modern)

1934 Acrostic (puzzle)

1935 Richter magnitude scale

1935 Black light

1935 Parking meter

1935 Surfboard fin

1935 pH meter

1935 Gomco clamp

1936 Reed switch

Examples of reed relays and switches Reedrelay.jpg
Examples of reed relays and switches

1936 Phillips-head screw

The Phillips-head screw is a crosshead screw design lying in its self-centering property, useful on automated production lines that use power screwdrivers. The Phillips-head screw was invented and patented by Henry F. Phillips in 1936. [264]

1936 Stock car racing

The world-famous Daytona 500 NASCAR practice.jpg
The world-famous Daytona 500

1936 Programming languages

1936 Compact fluorescent lamp

An example of a spiraled compact fluorescent lamp invented in 1976 by Edward Hammer Compact fluorescent transpa.png
An example of a spiraled compact fluorescent lamp invented in 1976 by Edward Hammer

1936 Chair lift

1936 Strain gauge

1936 Bass guitar

1937 O-ring

1937 Photosensitive glass

1937 Digital computer

1937 Shopping cart

A shopping cart filled with bagged groceries located in a parking lot Shopping cart.jpg
A shopping cart filled with bagged groceries located in a parking lot

1937 Sunglasses (polarized)

1937 Klystron

1937 Cyclamate

1938 Beach ball

The beach ball BeachBall.jpg
The beach ball

1938 Fiberglass

1938 Xerography

1938 Nylon

1938 Operant conditioning chamber

1938 Soft serve ice cream

Soft serve ice cream in strawberry flavor Soft Ice cream.jpg
Soft serve ice cream in strawberry flavor

1938 Teflon

1939 Yield sign

1939 VU meter

1939 Starting gate

1939 Twist tie

1939 Automated teller machine

A Suncorp Metway ATM Atm os2warp.jpg
A Suncorp Metway ATM

1939 Vocoder

1940 Fluxgate magnetometer

1941 Aerosol bomb

1941 Deodorant

1941 Acrylic fiber

1941 Electric guitar (solid body)

1942 Bazooka

A soldier holding an M1 bazooka Soldier with Bazooka M1.jpg
A soldier holding an M1 bazooka

1943 Magnetic proximity fuze

1943 Modern coal-burning steam locomotive

1943 Slinky

1945 Microwave oven

A microwave oven with a turntable Microwave.750pix.jpg
A microwave oven with a turntable

1945 Cruise control

1945 Block heater

See also

Footnotes

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Further reading