Our minds often drift to the lightbulb or the automobile when we think of famous inventions. But even the most minor items have a brilliant mind behind them. It’s often said that necessity is the mother of invention. Here are just a few of the inventors of everyday items that you should know about. These are inventions we all have somewhere in our homes.
Pencils with Erasers: Hymen Lipman
A long time ago, pencils and erasers existed as separate things. However, an English inventor from Jamaica named Hymen Lipman submitted a patent for the idea of combining the two in 1858. So, while separate erasers are still commonplace, you’re much less likely to find pencils without that handy little eraser on the ends.
Zippers: Gideon Sundback
Many inventors submitted ideas for metal fasteners. But many consider Gideon Sundback to be the father of the modern zipper. Sundback was a Swedish engineer who wanted to create a stable and reliable metal fastener that wouldn’t bust open. He received the patent for what we now call zippers in 1917. While most used older forms of the zipper for boots and pouches, they became the norm on clothes thanks to the fashion industry adopting them in the 1950s.
Flat-Bottomed Paper Bags: Margaret Knight
Having a stable, flat bottom on paper bags makes it much easier to organize and stack stuff inside. That’s why we use them for groceries, fast food, and other essentials. While working in a paper bag factory, Margaret Knight came up with the idea. She believed she could improve upon the original structure. Unfortunately, her co-worker, Charles Annan, even stole her idea to secure the patent. Thankfully, Knight’s initial sketches and plans allowed her to prove it was her idea in court and get the credit that she deserved.
Soda Can Pop-Tops: Ermal Fraze
No one wants to be stuck with a can of their favorite food or beverage with no way to open it. Well, one of the inventors of everyday items that you should know about, Ermal Fraze, found himself in that exact situation. While out on a picnic, he and his group realized they hadn’t packed a can opener to open their drinks. Months later, Fraze realized the best way to solve this problem was to create cans that you could open thanks to a simple tab. His invention caught on, and it’s become more common than ever to remove the can opener from the equation.