Did you know windshield wipers or windscreen wipers on the car were invented by Alabama woman Mary Anderson in 1903? Anderson’s invention came after she visited New York City on a snowy day and noticed a streetcar driver had to get out and continually clean off the windshield of his car by his hand to see the road. After her visit to New York, she returned to Birmingham, where she started creating a design for a device with a rubber blade that was operated by the driver from within the vehicle using a lever. The so-called “Window Cleaning Device” was awarded a patent number 743,801 on November 10, 1903, by the United States Patent Office. Anderson tried to sell her design to Canadian manufacturing firm Dinning and Eckenstein to produce the device for the emerging motor car industry, but the company believed it has no commercial value and declined to mass-produce it. Despite the failed attempt to sell her device, Anderson’s patent ran out in 1920 and windshield wipers eventually became ubiquitous.
Today, windshield wipers are now an important part of most vehicles. Wiper blades now come in a wide variety of shapes and size, while some are heated to help keep the windshield clean in snowy weather conditions. Although Anderson did not earn any money for her invention, at least she was given credit for it.
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