Invented 100 years ago in 1912

In our modern complex world we tend to think that all the best ideas have been thought of. History proves that is never the case.

Here are 7 inventions that were invented one hundred years ago, in the year of 1912. (Click here for 1913) All of them are still relevant today. Also with all of them, the technology for their operation was already in existence and had been for some time. So they could all have been invented 1, 10 or maybe 50 years earlier. But weren’t.

Most of us don’t invent anything much in our lifetimes. Part of that reason is that we think of invention as grandiose and that we’d need to invent time travel, teleportation or anti-gravity to have invented something worthwhile.

Inventors don’t think like that. Instead they look at a problem, a real problem that they or other people they know actually have. Their inventions are solutions to those real life problems.

The kitchen worktop surface was invented by Daniel J. O’Conor and Herbert A. Faber who originally conceived it as a substitute for mica used as electrical insulation. It was made of wrapped woven fabric coated with Bakelite thermosetting resin, then slit lengthwise, flattened, and cured in a press. Because the new product acted as a substitute “for mica”, Faber coined the name “Formica”.

The Electric Blanket
Invented by the American physician Sidney I. Russell.

The Zip
A Swede, Gideon Sundback, working in America, invented the zipper.

Belgian chocolates
Chocolate pieces filled with a soft fondant center were invented by Jean Neuhaus II, a Belgian chocolatier.

Slot Cars
The first commercial slot cars (now most famously made by Scalectrix) were made by the Lionel model company in the USA, drawing power from a toy train rail sunk in wide slot between the rails (see pic).

The Traffic Light
The first traffic controlling light was invented in by a Detroit policeman named Lester Wire as a two-color, red-and-green light with a buzzer to warn pedestrians ahead of the impending  change.

The Pentathlon
Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games invented the modern Pentathlon which was was first contested at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm.

We should all be focusing on real life problems within our own spheres of interest and work on how to solve them. Perhaps we too could come up with a solution that would benefit the world.

Don’t get bogged down thinking there’s nothing left to invent. At every point in the history of civilisation where people thought ‘everything that could be invented has been invented’ – it has always been soon followed by an amazing era of progress and invention.

They’ll be nothing left to invent when the world has no more problems to solve. And that’s a long way off….

So have a think. What could YOU invent this year? Can you imagine an idea that will still be in general use in 2112?

Have a look at 10 things that were invented the following year, in 1913, here.

Ayd Instone works with people to explore and unlock their creative ideas in ways they may never have thought possible, to inspire innovation in their lives, and their business.

Book Ayd to speak about the Power of ‘What If?’ and Inspiration for Innovation at your conference, or in your business. A great way to open your event or as an after lunch energiser.

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6 comments on “Invented 100 years ago in 1912

  1. interesting article…..Mrs Fields, Famous Amos are also examples of inventors. Forbes magazine did an article a couple years ago about the GARAGE in American invention: Ford, Hewlett-Packard, Steve & Steve (Apple) and many other inventors started by working in their garages, basements, kitchens, or spare bedrooms.

    Your article sparked me to do a Google search for 20th century inventions. Found this interesting website you may want to look at…


  2. I love the modern pentathlon – a sport based on the skills for a solider behind enemy lines (Myth? Who cares?!) Perhaps there should be a contemporary version called the Bourne Pentathlon – coming to a cinema / olympics near you soon folks!


  3. I burnt the sausages today. Maybe I could invent a sausage skin which would contract at an appropriate temperature and turn the sausage over in the pan.


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