10 American Inventions (We Use Every Day)

Independence Day is upon us! I’ve made a list of 10 American inventions used by Adafruit every day. Obviously, this list could number a lot more than 10 things, and it doesn’t claim to be definitive. It’s just good, clean American fun!

1. Mail Order (1744 – Benjamin Franklin) — and by extension distant, worldwide commerce on an interpersonal level. It’s the reason why someone in the Philippines can buy a clock from a company in New York City that’s made with a display which comes from a country that doesn’t even exist anymore.

2. Swivel Chair (1776 – Thomas Jefferson) — A life without a swivel chair is hardly a life at all. Adafruit has nice ones. I think Adabot picked them up at a Goldman-Sachs garage sale.

3. Refrigeration (1805 – Oliver Evans) — Keeps the beer cider cold.

4. Electric Doorbell (1831 – Joseph Henry) — The UPS man is here!

5. Vacuum Cleaner (1860 – Daniel Hess) — Adafruit has a cat, therefore Adafruit has a vacuum cleaner. This one looks like one of those squid machines from The Matrix.

6. Chewing Gum (1870 – Thomas Adams) — We buy our gum in tins. Then we throw out the gum and put electronics inside the tins. Circle of life.

7. Tape dispenser (1932 — John A. Borden) — Ensures freshness!

8. Digital Computer – (1937 — George Stibitz) — It’s a nice novelty, but it’ll never really catch on.

9. Compiler (1949 – Grace Hopper) — It’s how we tell those little chips what to do and when to do it.

10. Ctrl+Alt+Delete (1981 – David Bradley) — This doesn’t actually happen every day, but it does happen. And it’s always someone else’s fault.

Have a great 4th of July!

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  1. when i saw mosfet in the box i thought you were going to try the Schrödinger’s experiment

  2. Babbage designed the first digital computer but was unable to build it at the time: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analytical_engine

    There isn’t much information on Stibitz’s electro-mechanical computers it seems. Wikipedia describes them as calculators which suggests they were not really computers in that they were not programmable. It is not clear if they were binary or decimal either.

    The German Zuse machine (1941) was programmable but could not do conditional branching so is really more of an automated calculator.

    That makes the first true computer to be built the Colossus Mark I (1944). So I think pretty much any way you look at it the first computer was British 🙂

  3. “James Watt invented the steam engine.”

  4. ha ha ha hahahahahahaha
    haha ha!

  5. I like the font of image “9. Compiler “. what name is the font?

  6. @mabian: it’s called “OCR A Std”.

  7. Kitty! Always a joy to see that head peaking around at us!

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