Notable Patents

First U.S. Patent

First U.S. Patent: Improvement in the of Making Pot Ash and Pearl Ash by a New Apparatus and Process
Patent Number: X000001
Date of Patent: July 31, 1790
Inventor: Samuel Hopkins
Samuel Hopkins, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, received the first patent on July 31, 1790 for a cleaning formula used in soapmaking. Among the signers of the patent were President George Washington and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. The first 10,280 patents issued between 1790 and 1836, including Samuel Hopkins patent, were destroyed by a fire. Fewer than 3,000 of those have been recovered and re-issued with numbers that include an "X."


Velvet Type Fabric and Method for Producing the Same: Velcro
Patent Number: 2,717,437
Date of Patent: September 13, 1955
Inventor: George de Mestral
The hook-loop fastener we know as Velcro was invented by George de Mestral. The idea came after he took a close look at the burrs that stuck to his clothes and his dog's fur on their walks in the Swiss Alps. He examined them under a microscope and noticed each burr consisted of hundreds of tiny hooks that "grabbed" into loops of thread or fur. Together with a weaver, Mestal perfected his hook and loop fastener. He named his invention "Velcro" after the French words velours, meaning velvet and crochet, or hook.

Divers Suit

Diver's Suit
Patent Number: 1,370,316
Date of Patent: March 1, 1921
Inventor: Harry Houdini
Even though renowned magician and escape artist Harry Houdini could escape from virtually anything, deep sea divers could not extricate themselves from a diver's suit if they found themselves in trouble. Houdini's invention improved the construction of a diver's suit, enabling a diver to slip out of the suit quickly, while submerged, safely escape and reach the water's surface without assistance. It accomplished this by being formed in two halves, with a locking joint in the middle. The suit also enabled a diver to put on or take off the suit without requiring assistance.


Board Game Apparatus: Monopoly
Patent Number: 2,026,082
Date of Patent: December 31, 1935
Inventor: Charles B. Darrow
In 1933, inspired by The Landlord's Game, Charles B. Darrow developed and pitched his variation of the board game to Parker Brother executives. The game was turned down citing "52 fundamental errors." Darrow decided to produce it on his own and sold 5,000 units to Wanamaker Department Stores. The game gained in popularity and demand. In 1935, Parker Brothers reconsidered Darrow's offer and bought the game outright, giving Darrow royalties on all games sold. At age 46, Charles Darrow became the world's first millionaire game designer.

Navigable Baloon

Navigable Balloon: Dirigible
Patent Number: 621,195
Date of Patent: March 14, 1899
Inventor: Ferdinand Graf Zeppelin
Ferdinand Graf Zeppelin's "Navigable Balloon" provided several improvements to lighter-than-air craft of the day. In particular, he invented the rigid frame dirigible. The Zeppelin qualities of streamlined-shape, light rigid framework and maneuvering power made them successful when heavier than air machines were yet undeveloped. The first of many untethered rigid dirigibles, called zeppelins in his honor, made its maiden flight on July 2, 1900. The success of this and future military and civilian Zeppelins were to have a lasting effect on airpower strategies.

Bubble Wrap

Method for Making Laminated Cushioning Material: Bubble Wrap
Patent Number: 3,142,599
Date of Patent: July 28, 1964
Inventor: Marc A. Chavannes
Bubble Wrap was invented in 1957 by two engineers, Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes. The two were in a garage in Hawthorne, New Jersey trying to invent plastic wallpaper with a paper backing. The product did not succeed. However, along the way, they realized their invention could be used as cushioning material for packaging. This accidental innovation led them to found Sealed Air Corporation in 1960. The original material revolutionized the shipping industry. The company manufactures enough bubble wrap every year to wrap the equator ten times.


Improvement in Hoisting Apparatus: Elevator
Patent Number: 31,128
Date of Patent: January 15, 1961
Inventor: Elisha Graves Otis
As an adult, Otis' inventive nature was piqued when his employer needed an elevator that could carry people and equipment safely to the upper floors of a new building. When he finished his invention, he demonstrated it on the floor of the Crystal Palace Exposition in New York in front of a large audience. He ascended in an elevator and halfway up he had the hoisting cable cut with an axe. The platform did not plunge to the ground because his invention included a toothed guiderail located on each side of the elevator shaft that caught the elevator car. If the cable failed, the teeth would engage, locking the car in place. This invention made skyscrapers a practical reality.

Rocket Apparatus

Rocket Apparatus
Patent Number: 1,102,653
Date of Patent: July 7, 1914
Inventor: Robert H. Goddard
In 1914, Dr. Robert H. Goddard was awarded his first landmark patent. The invention related to a rocket apparatus and particularly to a form of such apparatus adapted to transport photographic or other recording instruments to extreme heights. It would become an important milestone in the history of rocketry. Goddard was awarded 214 patents for his work, 83 of which came during his lifetime. Dr. Goddard is considered the father of modern rocket propulsion for his life's work.