Imagine life without these Yankee innovations… From tools and games to creative new ways to write, keep warm and stay whisker-free, we think these are some of the best New England inventions. Don’t see your favorite New England-born invention? Add any we missed to the comments!
NY HIP/Art Resource
Best New England Inventions
Earl Silas Tupper, born in 1907 to a poor, hardworking New Hampshire farm family, became a self-taught inventor and eventually found work as a plastics chemist. His invention of an airtight, watertight lid that famously emitted a “burp” helped launch a national retailing phenomenon.
The Friction Match
In 1834 Daniel Chapin sold his first matches door to door in Chicopee, Massachusetts.
The Monkey Wrench
With Loring Coes’s 1841 invention in Worcester, Massachusetts, a workman had only one tool to misplace.
The Stone Crusher
The father of America’s highways is Eli Whitney Blake of New Haven, Connecticut, who had his brainstorm in 1851.
The Board Game
Milton Bradley introduced The Checkered Game of Life in 1866 in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The Paper Bag
Patented by Luther C. Crowell from West Dennis, Massachusetts, in 1872.
The Auto Age
The auto industry was born not in Detroit, but in New England. The two-stroke internal-combustion engine was patented in 1872 by George Brayton of Boston, and the first commercially produced automobile came from the Duryea Motor Wagon Company in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1895.
Chester Greenwood, the pride of Farmington, Maine, invented the earmuff in 1873, at the age of 15. Farmington’s annual Chester Greenwood Day parade is held on the first Saturday in December.
The Snow Shovel
Charles A. Way, from North Charlestown, New Hampshire, added the metal clasp that holds the handle to the snow shovel in 1877.
The Ballpoint Pen
Patented by John J. Loud of Weymouth, Massachusetts, in 1888.
The Disposable Razor
The idea came to King Gillette one morning in 1895 while shaving. It wasn’t until 1906 that the invention took the country by storm.
The Wooden Golf Tee
George F. Grant was Harvard’s first African American professor; prior to his 1899 invention, Boston golfers teed off from piles of sand pushed into a pyramid.
In West Ossipee, New Hampshire, V. D. White added caterpillar treads and ski runners to a Ford body in 1913.
The Microwave Oven
Percy L. Spencer, born in Howland, Maine, left school in the fifth grade but became known as one of the most innovative minds of his day; he’s credited with inventing the microwave oven while working for Raytheon. In 1947 Raytheon produced the first Radar Range.
— Excerpt from “Fifty Amazing Things That Made a Difference,” by Bob Trebilcock, Yankee Magazine, September 1985
This post was first published in 2015 and has been updated.
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