Let’s give a standing ovation to women in U.S. history whose never-give-up spirit makes our lives incredibly easier today. The Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology you use every day? A woman originally invented it in 1941. The dishwasher in the company’s break room? The first practical dishwasher was invented by a woman in 1886. The Scotchgard® that protects the office furniture? A female 3M chemist developed the fabric stain repellant in 1956.
We at Midwest Maintenance Company join you in applauding these women—both famous and rather unknown—as part of Women’s History Month. Did you know that American women through the decades have invented everything from non-reflective glass, the first word processor and business computer software to the electric hot water heater, central heating and Kevlar® body armor?
BRINGING IMAGINATIVE IDEAS TO LIFE
Countless women in history have modeled innovative thinking and stick-to-it tenacity as they developed their ideas into invaluable products and services. These ladies remained steadfast in bringing their imaginative ideas to life in a culture that often downplayed the truth that women are equally capable of brilliance, problem-solving and entrepreneurship.
From an extensive list of female inventors, scientists, chemical engineers and more go-getters, we present the following two: Hedy Lamarr and Frances Gabe.
HEDY LAMARR (1914-2000)
Originally from Vienna, Austria, Hedy Lamarr grew up taking long walks with her bank director father who piqued her curiosity with discussions about the inner workings of machines such as the printing press and street cars. At age 5, Hedy took apart and reassembled her music box to understand how the device operated.
But at age 16, Hedy’s beauty captured center stage and regulated her brilliant mind to a backrow seat. A prominent theater and film director began placing her in German films. Her increasing popularity as an actress led to her marrying an adoring fan and Austrian munitions dealer. Hedy was forced to host dinner parties for many of her ultra-wealthy husband’s friends and disreputable business partners, including Nazi party members—reportedly Hitler and Mussolini among them. Escaping her oppressive marriage, Hedy escaped to London where she met Louis B. Mayer of the legendary MGM Studios. This meeting served as her ticket to Hollywood where she soon enthralled American movie audiences with her beauty, elegance and accent. At one point, Hedy was called the most beautiful woman in the world.
UNLEASHING HER INNER ENGINEER
With her scientific mind bottled up by her acting career, Hedy dated businessman and pilot Howard Hughes who gave her inventing equipment to use in her trailer on set. Between film takes, Hedy worked on her own innovations. Her inventive mind created an improved stoplight and a dissolve-in-water tablet that produce soda similar to Coca-Cola®.
Hedy engineered her most significant invention as America was heading into World War II. She gained insights about wartime weaponry from conversations with notable guests back in Austria. Hedy and friend music composer and pianist George Antheil collaborated on a secretive communication system to guide torpedoes to their wartime targets—without being detected by the enemy. Their invention of radio wave frequency or channel hopping blocked the interception of radio messages.
While Hedy never saw a penny from her patented military-use invention, she became a U.S. citizen in 1953 and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame after her death in 2000. Because of her brilliant achievement, Hedy is considered “the mother of Wi-Fi” and the original inventor of digital communications such as cellphones, fax machines, Bluetooth and GPS. Thank you, Hedy!
FRANCES GABE (1915–2016)
Artist and housewife Frances Gabe once called cleaning a “thankless, unending job, a nerve-twangling bore,” and she vowed to simplify housecleaning for everyone, but particularly those with physical limitations. Frances told People magazine in a 1982 article that “I want to eliminate all unnecessary motion so that handicapped and elderly people can care for their homes themselves. My system will allow people to do so by pushing a few buttons.”
Frances received a 1984 patent for designing a “self-cleaning building construction,” similar to a tiny home in which nearly 70 different devices worked in harmony to clean the mini house. An apparatus applied a fine mist of water or water/detergent to walls, floors and ceiling. A warm air dryer turned on as sloping floors directed excess moisture down a drain. A hatch in a wall deposited trash down a chute to the garbage can. A chain pulley system washed and dried clothes on hangers, moving the clothing through a washing closet, dryer station and finally a storage closet.
Frances’ goal was to save time, energy and space. She sketched, tested and tweaked her self-cleaning house over 20 years before she had to move into an assisted living center. Although Frances invention did not make it to mass market, a model of her self-cleaning home is preserved at the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, Delaware.
THANK YOU HEDY AND FRANCES!
Never underestimate anyone’s ideas, genius or never-give-up spirit. A flip of a switch and your house is dust-free and spot-free? Perhaps someday an inspiring inventor will continue where Frances left off. In the meantime, you can use your Hedy-inspired cellphone or computer to contact us at Midwest Maintenance Company to assess your business for free and suggest the best options for customized cleaning services.
Give us a call for a free estimate at 1.866.866.5850.