This list was researched and created for us by Kristyn Byrne for our Time To Wonder fundraising event held on September 23, 2010. Each scientist was used as a table marker. Although having names of scientists as table markers caused a bit of confusion, people overwhelmingly loved reading about the creative inventions and asked to have copies of the list to take home. Here’s the list for all to enjoy.
1. Marion Donovan
As a mother, Marion wondered what it would be like to not have to wash dirty, leaky, cloth diapers. Her curiosity inspired her to create the first convenient disposable diaper.
2. Chester Greenwood
When Chester was a boy, he wondered how he could keep his ears warm while ice skating. At just 15 years old, his curiosity inspired him to create the first earmuffs.
3. Margaret Knight
Working in a paper bag factory, Margaret wondered how we could transport our shopping purchases more effectively. Her curiosity revolutionized the grocery industry when she created a machine to make flat-bottom paper bags.
4. Ronald Kay
When Ronald was a boy, he wondered how we could better protect our kids from getting into trouble. His curiosity inspired him to create the child-proof medicine cap.
5. Earle Dickson
When his wife kept cutting her fingers while preparing food in the kitchen, Earle set out to design a solution for active fingers. His curiosity inspired him to create Band-Aids.
6. Thomas Adams
While working on a project to convert the chicle from sasaparilla trees into synthetic rubber projects, Thomas popped a piece into him mouth. Liking the taste, his curiosity inspired him to add flavor to create chewing gum.
7. Arthur Wynne
When Arthur was a boy, he wondered if he could make a brainteaser that would appeal to the masses. His curiosity inspired him to create the first crossword puzzle.
8. Captain Hanson Crockett Gregory
While working on a ship at age 16, Hanson wondered if he could make a non-greasy, fried cake that didn’t give him indigestion aboard his ship. His curiosity led him to use a tin can to cut a hole in the cake before frying it, creating the first donut.
9. Alfred Carlton Gilbert
While commuting from New Haven to New York on the train, Alfred watched the workers building a power-line tower. Based on miniature versions of the same steal beams the workers were using, his curiosity inspired him to create a construction set for children and called it the Erector Set.
10. George W. Ferris
As a bridge builder at an engineer’s banquet, George overheard the desire to have something built for the World’s Fair in Chicago that would rival the Eiffel Tower. After sketching an idea on a dinner napkin, his curiosity inspired him to design and create the Ferris Wheel.
11. Christopher Cockerell
When Christopher was a boy, he wondered if he could build a vehicle that would move over the water’s surface, floating on a layer of air. After using an empty Kite Kat cat food tin inside a coffee tin, an industrial air blower and a pair of kitchen scales as a prototype, his curiosity inspired him to create the hovercraft.
12. Guy Tinkham
While working at a household appliance company, Guy wondered if he could make ice more accessible. His curiosity inspired him to create the first flexible stainless steel, all-metal ice tray.
13. Tim Berners-Lee
When Tim was a boy, he wondered if he could make a living off of his love of electronics. His curiosity inspired him to create the World Wide Web.
14. John Spilsbury
While working as an engraver & mapmaker, John wondered if he could make his maps more interactive. His curiosity inspired him to attach one of his maps to some wood and then cut out the countries, creating the first jigsaw puzzle.
15. Stephanie Kwolek
While researching and working with high-performance chemical compounds, Stephanie wondered if she could make a synthetic material that was both strong & lightweight. Her curiosity inspired her to create Kevlar, most frequently used in bullet proof vests.
16. Edwin Perkins
When Edwin was a young boy in Nebraska, he was fascinated by chemistry and wondered if he’d ever invent something. Through experimenting with homemade concoctions in his mother’s kitchen, his curiosity inspired him to create Fruit Smack, which he later renamed Kool-Aid (and it became name the “official soft drink of Nebraska.”
17. Bette Graham
When Bette was young, she dreamed of being an artist (not an inventor!). But as a single mother working as a secretary, she wondered why couldn’t typists paint over their mistakes like artists do on a canvas? Her curiosity inspired her to use her kitchen blender to create the first batch of “Mistake Out,” later renamed Liquid Paper.
18. Percy Spencer
When Percy was an engineer testing a new vacuum tube at work, he wondered how the candy bar in his pocket had completely melted. His curiosity inspired him to put some popcorn kernels near the same tube, discovering the technology to create the microwave oven.
19. Charles Darrow
When young Charles was struggling for work after the stock market crash of 1929, he wondered if he could create a game to pass the time that reminded him of his summers in Atlantic City. His curiosity inspired him to draw the streets of Atlantic City on his kitchen tablecloth and building houses & hotels to place on it, creating the first Monopoly game.
20. Carmela Vitale
Ever wonder, who invented the circular thing that keeps the pizza from hitting the inside of the box top? Carmela’s curiosity inspired her to create & patent the Package Saver, the plastic tabletop that protects your pizza!
21. Joe McVicker
When Joe was working with a modeling compound used to clean wallpaper, he wondered if it could be used for something more fun. His curiosity inspired him to market the compound as a toy similar to modeling clay, creating Play-Doh.
22. Frank Epperson
When Frank was 11 years old, he wondered what would happen if he put a stir stick in his fruit-flavored soda and left it out in the cold. His curiosity inspired him to create a frozen ice pop, originally called the Epsicle – now known as a Popsicle.
23. Rowland Hill
While working as a schoolmaster, Rowland wondered if there was a better way to calculate postal rates. His curiosity inspired him to create the first uniform postage rates that were based on weight rather than size and the first adhesive postage stamp.
24. Art Fry
When Art was looking for a bookmark for his church hymnal, he wondered if he could find something sturdy that wouldn’t fall out but also wouldn’t damage the book. His curiosity inspired him to add some 3M adhesive to a piece of paper, creating the Post It Note.
25. Leo Gerstenzang
When Leo noticed that his wife was wrapping cotton around a toothpick, he thought hi could invent something safer. His curiosity inspired him to create Baby Gays cotton swabs, later renamed to Q-Tips.
26. Walter Hunt
When Walter hunt was fiddling with a piece of wire in his hands, we wondered what he could possibly make that would help him pay off a fifteen dollar debt. His curiosity inspired him to create the first pin to have a clasp & spring action designed to keep fingers safe from injury – the safety pin.
27. Richard Drew
When Richard was visiting a local auto body shop, he noticed that auto painters were having a hard time making clean dividing lines on two-color paint jobs and wondered if he could find a solution. His curiosity inspired him to invent the world’s first masking tape.
28. Richard James
When Richard dropped a tension spring on the ground, he said to his wife “I think I can make a toy out of this.” His curiosity inspired him to spend the next two years figuring out the best steel gouge and coil to use for the toy, creating the Slinky.
29. James Spangler
When James deduced that the carpet sweeper he used as a department store janitor was the source of his cough, he wondered if he could find a solution. After tinkering with an old fan motor, attaching it to a soap box stapled to a broom handle and using a pillowcase as a dust collector, he created the first portable electric vacuum cleaner.
30. George de Mestral
When George’s dog returned from his walk covered with burrs, he wondered about their composition and examined them under a microscope. His curiosity inspired him to create a unique, two-sided fastener, one side with stiff hooks like the burrs and the other side with soft loops but strong as a zipper – the end product was Velcro.
31. Mary Anderson
When Mary was visiting New York City, she wondered if there was a solution to keep streetcar drivers from opening the windows of their cars when it rained in order to see. Her curiosity inspired Mary to create blades that could clean snow, rain, or sleet from a windshield by using a handle inside the car – the first windshield wipers.
32. Kathryn Gregory
When Kathryn was 10-years old, she wondered how she could keep her wrists from getting cold and wet while building a snow fort. Her curiosity inspired her to create Wristies, protective winter gear that are designed to be worn under your coat and gloves that block the snow, wind, and cold from entering any unprotected gaps.
33. Frank Oppenheimer
As a teacher in Colorado, Frank noticed that his students seemed incurious. Only after they got involved with experiments did they ask questions. He began to wonder if a place was needed where they could walk through a kind of woods of natural phenomena. He moved to San Francisco and in 1969 founded the Exploratorium.
34. Norman Breakey
When Norman wanted to paint his house in his two favorite colors of green and red, he wondered how he could speed up the job. His curiosity inspired him to create the paint roller.
35. Arthur Granjean
When Arthur was piddling around in his garage, he wondered if she could create a “magic screen” for writing and creating pictures. His curiosity inspired him to create the Etch A Sketch.
36. George Lerner
When George was tinkering with an idea for a children’s toy, he wondered if he could use items already in a family’s home. His curiosity inspired him to create a set of plastic face pieces that could be push-pinned into fruits & vegetables, eventually producing Mr. Potato Head.
37. Harvey Ball
When Harvey was responsible for the merger of two insurance companies, he wondered how he could appease the acrimonious aftermath. His curiosity inspired him to sketch for 10 minutes and create the universally-known black and yellow smiley face.
38. Charles Pajeau
When Charles watched his kids play with pencils, sticks and empty spools of thread, he wondered if he could develop several basic wooden parts that could be easily assembled in three-dimensional abstract ways. His curiosity inspired him to create Tinker Toys.
39. George Crum
When George was a chef, a customer sent back his french fries back to kitchen for being too thick. Irritated, George wondered how to further irk his customer and returned paper thin, crisp potatoes to the table. His curiosity inspired him to create the first potato chips (his plan backfired as the customer loved the dish!).
40. James Naismith
When James was an employee of the YMCA, he wondered if there was a way to keep his kids in shape during the cold winter months. His curiosity inspired him to create a game where players scored points by throwing a large ball into peach baskets hung at a height of ten feet at either end of the gym – basketball!