Today in History – May 5, 1809 – Mary Kies is the first woman to receive a U.S. patent. Prior to the U.S. Patent Act of 1790, only men could author a patent. Even after the federal law was passed, women couldn’t patent as most states did not allow women to legally own property. For example, there is much speculation that the authorship of the cotton gin patent of 1794 should have included Catherine Greene on the patent, as well as that of the African American slaves who also were not allowed to patent.
Mary Kies’ invention was a process for weaving straw with silk or thread. Alas the patent file was destroyed in the great Patent Office fire in 1836 and an exact copy of the patent is no longer available. Kies invention has been credited for boosting the U.S. hat industry. Even First Lady, Dolley Madison praised her contributions. Until about 1840, most of the other 20 patents issued to women concerned applications that women saw in their everyday work: apparel, tools, cook stoves, and fire places.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.