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Kristina Mulina

Assistant to Patent Attorney

21 May 2019

The genius and elementary inventions that we use in everyday life

We are surrounded by many things that we take for granted, but we do not ponder how they facilitate our everyday life, and what contribution to the mankind development their inventors have made simplifying our lifestyle a great deal. Below, we shall talk about such inventions.

If you open a kitchen cupboard, you will definitely find at least one invention, for example, a tin can, about the usefulness of which you have not even pondered. But some time ago, there was an acute problem of finding the ways to preserve products without losing their taste and freshness. And in the beginning of the XIX century, when France was a military superpower and had conquered most of Europe, Napoleon seriously considered a possibility of waging a war on another continent; therefore the French military were extremely interested in any new developments that would have helped to feed a huge number of their soldiers. In this regard, the French government under Napoleon offered a reward of 12,000 francs to any inventor, who would invent a cheap way to store food. It was then that the French chef Nicolas Appert invented a method of canning food in 1795. He offered to can food in tin cans, and he noticed that the food cooked in closed cans did not spoil for a very long time. And this method was adapted soon to the mass manufacture of canned food. The basic concept has been preserved till now.

At the same time, the tin can itself was patented only in 1810 by the British merchant Peter Durand. A little later, in 1813, John Hall and Bryan Dorkin opened the first commercial canning factory in England. But a can opener, alas, was invented only 30 years after the invention of the tin cans, so that the French soldiers used either a bayonet or stones in order to open such tin can. And it was only in 1858 that Ezra Warner from Waterbury, Connecticut patented the first can opener.

The history of the creation of the next invention is almost a legend, according to which the American physicist Percy Spencer, who worked for the US Department of Defense, was engaged in designing a radiator of hyper frequency waves for air defense radar. And thus, one day, when he was in front of the radiator, he felt that the peanut bar, which was lying in his pocket, began to melt. This surprised and became of interest to the physicist very much. He immediately brought several corn kernels to the laboratory and they turned into popcorn before his eyes. At the same time, Spencer himself felt neither warm nor heat, and then he realized what was happening, and on October 8, 1945, he already patented a device for cooking food with the help of electromagnetic waves. The first microwave weighed 340 kilograms and it was almost two meters high, and therefore it was not popular among the people. And only in the 70s, when the Japanese market became flooded with the Japanese microwave ovens, the interest in them increased dramatically, and as a result, currently, any modern kitchen is not complete without this amazing and useful machine.

Another invention that we use in everyday life is toilet paper. Despite the fact that it has been known as the wrapping and padding material in China since the 2nd century BC, the first use of toilet paper namely refers to the 6th century AD in early medieval China. And in 1391, it was in the same place that a luxury item by the standards of that time specially designed for the imperial family appeared. The dimensions of each sheet designated for the needs of the court of the Ming dynasty were approximately 70 by 90 cm. But the modern version appeared much later. The inventor of the paper designated exclusively for toilet, is considered to be American Joseph Gayetty. Gayetty’s Medicated Paper manufactured in 1857 being the medicated paper of Gayetty was soaked with aloe and defended by the watermarks with the manufacturer's name. But as to the toilet rolls, which are familiar to us, they appeared in Philadelphia at the Scott Paper Mill. As to Russia, it was only in 1968, in the USSR, that the Syassky Pulp and Paper Mill in the Leningrad Region began to manufacture the toilet rolls for the ordinary people.

The next device, which will be discussed, needs no introductions, since every school child, and not only, understands its importance in our life. As you have probably guessed already, this is an electronic calculator. The first such calculator was created in the 1960s, and a pocket version became available a little later, in the 1970s. Nowadays, everyone carries around a calculator, from students to researchers and scientists; indeed, it is rather difficult to find a mobile phone without the pre-installed application for a calculator.

Another invention, without which we can not do in our lives, is a safety razor invention. After all, previously, most men have used a straight razor being a naked blade, which required a lot of efforts and skills, while using it. At the end of the 18th century, Jean-Jacques Perret inspired by a joiner's plane invented the first safety razor. Starting since the 1820s, many companies began to manufacture their own safety razors, although many of them will not be considered safe according to the modern standards. In 1875, the Kampfe brothers manufactured a razor, which had a protective cover on one side of the blade, which needed to be removed for sharpening. And in 1901, the American inventor King Camp Gillett invented the first safety razor with disposable blades. His name is not in vain on everyone's lips, because the Gillette brand is associated with the disposable razors. Already during the First World War, the duffel bag of each American soldier was staffed with the Gillette safe razors, and after the First World War such razor became an integral part of the hygienic set of most men, what ensures a success of the Gillette brand nowadays, too. 

Nowadays, many of us, in order to buy razors and not only, use credit cards, which were first used in the USA in the 1920s specially for selling fuel to a growing number of car owners. And in the modern world, credit cards are used everywhere, from paying for fuel (what they were originally created for) to online purchases.

One also can not but mention a boring set of black and white lines. Oh, yes, it comes about a barcode. It was designed by Norman Woodland and it can be found on almost every item in a grocery store. It is difficult to understand at the first glance how the bar code can have any impact on the world, but it definitely has changed the way we make our purchases.

Nowadays, we can make a purchase and choose a product from anywhere in the world at any time via the Internet, although, a few decades ago, the mankind could only dream of it. In the late 1960s, the United States Department of Defence created ARPANET, a network of connections between computers, which was intended for military and scientific research. Other computer networks began to appear around the world in the following few years. And only in 1989, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, which united the whole world.

The list of the genius and elementary inventions is endless. And the people, who have created those inventions were building up the mankind history, the history of the mankind everyday life, learning about which we can discover many interesting things nowadays and ponder that many familiar things that we take for granted now in the modern world have not always been a part of the household, and they are not that elementary.

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