photocopier inventorThis week the photocopier celebrates its 75 years birthday. In the late 1930s, this invention made a splash. Employees were delighted: before that, they had to reprint copies of documents by hand.

The inventor of the photocopier Chester Carlson was denied funding in 20 companies, and in 1944 a small company-manufacturer of photographic materials Haloid ventured to sign a contract with him. In 1961, the company changed its name to Xerox, and soon began to earn billions of dollars. Carlson himself became a rich man, although few people know that the world is indebted to him for the first photocopier.

Below are 8 inventors whose names are not well known, but most of people use their inventions every day.

1. Toothbrush
(William Addis)

toothbrush inventor

In 1770, Addis got to a British jail for inciting to riot. At that time, people used a cloth with salt and coal dust to clean their teeth. Addis drilled a hole in a piece of bone, put some tufts of bristles in it and fixed them with glue. Upon his release, he made a fortune from the industrial production of toothbrushes. In 1808, after the death of the inventor, his son inherited the company, which still exists today under the name of Wisdom Toothbrushes.

2. Effervescent pills
(William Upjohn)

Effervescent pills inventor

Before this invention, people used to take medications in the form of powders or drops. In 1880, Upjohn invented a pill that dissolves easily in the stomach. Four years later, he created a machine to produce the pills in large quantities, and in 1886 founded the Upjohn Pill and Granule Company. The company existed for more than a century, and in 1995 it merged with the Swiss Pharmacia. Subsequently, this company was bought by Pfizer.

3. Zipper
(Whitcomb Judson)

Zipper inventor

Whitcomb Judson made about three dozens of registered inventions. The most famous of them is the zipper, which was patented in 1892 as “the buckle for shoes.” Judson hoped that it would be used instead of laces. The inventor died in 1909, before his creation became popular. For the first time the zipper was used in sewing uniforms of the U.S. army during World War II. In 1923, the American company BF Goodrich released boots with Judson buckle. It was then when the name “zipper” appeared.

4. Wire hangers
(Albert J. Parkhouse)

Wire hangers inventor

Who invented the coat hanger is still being debated. Many believe that the first wooden model was invented by Thomas Jefferson, one of the authors of the American Declaration of Independence. But most agree that the hangers in their contemporary form are the invention of Parkhouse. He worked in a wire factory in the city of Jackson and decided to help his colleagues who never had enough hooks for clothes. Parkhouse curved a piece of wire so that it could hang a jacket and trousers, and in 1903 patented his invention.

5. Air-conditioner
(Willis Carrier)

Air-conditioner inventor

American engineer and inventor developed the first machine capable of cooling air using a non-toxic and non-flammable refrigerant. In 1902, Carrier added to it a mechanism to control the humidity. This unit was the world’s first air conditioner. In 1915, the successful engineer founded Carrier Engineering Corporation, which sold air conditioning systems.

6. Traffic light
(Garrett Morgan)

Traffic light inventor

Morgan invented the traffic control system after witnessing a terrible car accident. It switched manually and, in addition to the signals “stop” and “go”, had another one – “stop everybody”, which completely stopped traffic at the crossroads. Morgan filed for the patent in 1922.

He later sold the copyrights for $ 40,000 to General Electric, which developed the electric traffic light. In addition, the inventor designed the “protective hood“, which became the forerunner of a gas mask.

7. Ballpoint pen
(Laszlo Biro)

Ballpoint pen inventor

A native of Budapest, Laszlo Biro made his living from journalism. One day he noticed that the printer ink dries faster and makes less blots than the conventional ink. Biro decided to use it for his fountain pen. This attempt failed – the paint was too thick. Then he came up with a ball head, which rotated and evenly distributed the ink on the paper. The invention was patented in 1938, and seven years later, Marcel Bich bought the patent and made the ballpoint pen with a trademark symbol of Bic.

8. Hook-and-loop fastener
(Georges de Mestral)

Hook-and-loop fastener inventor

The idea of Velcro or hook-and-loop fastener came to a Swiss engineer Georges de Mestral, when after another walk with his dog he had to remove thistle heads from its hair. De Mestral examined them under a microscope and saw tiny hooks. The same principle was used by the inventor in the hook-and-loop buckle.

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Anna LeMind

Anna LeMind

Anna is the founder and lead editor of the website She is passionate about learning new things and reflecting on thought-provoking ideas. She writes about science, psychology and other related topics. She is particularly interested in topics regarding introversion, consciousness and subconscious, perception, human mind's potential, as well as the nature of reality and the universe.