This Mother’s Day, ABC Insurance Agencies is honoring eight incredible women who created revolutionary inventions on top of being awesome moms at the same time. From rocket scientists to cookie connoisseurs, these inspiring, innovative mothers changed the world as we know it. Check out these amazing creations invented by talented moms who you’ll want to thank each time you wash your dishes, make a pot of coffee, or change a diaper.
1. The Long Cycle-Life Nickel-Hydrogen Battery: Olga D. Gonzáles-Sanabria
In 1979, Olga D. Gonzáles-Sanabria began her career at NASA where she brought constant innovation to the world of engineering design and development. A mom of two children, advocate for minorities in STEM, and critically acclaimed inventor and scientist, Olga D. Gonzáles-Sanabria is one tough chick. One of her most significant achievements is the invention of the Long Cycle-Life Nickel-Hydrogen Battery, which helps to power the International Space Station. Gonzáles-Sanabria is also the top-ranking Hispanic employee at NASA’S Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, where she currently serves as the Director of Engineering.
2. The Hydrazine Resistojet Propulsion System: Yvonne Brill
Another incredibly talented female rocket scientist, Yvonne Brill, revolutionized rocket engineering as she conceptualized a new satellite propulsion system in 1967. Her, “hydrazine resistojet,” improved reliability, engine performance, and ultimately kept satellites from slipping out of orbit. Before Brill created her groundbreaking invention, she was denied admittance to the University of Manitoba’s male-only engineering department, so she pursued chemistry and math instead. In 1945, the Douglas Aircraft Company in Santa Monica, California recruited Brill to help design the first American satellite. At the time, she was the only woman researching rocket science in the United States. In 2010, Brill received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Barack Obama.
3. Disposable Diapers: Marion Donovan
If you’re a parent, you’ll appreciate Marion Donovan’s invention, the disposable diaper. A former beauty editor of Vogue, Donovan became a Connecticut housewife and mother of two in 1946. At the time, babies wore rubber diapers that left uncomfortable rashes. Donovan knew there had to be a more hygienic, convenient diaper design, so she began creating a waterproof diaper cover made from nylon that she coined, “the Boater.’
Parents were overwhelmingly excited about Donovan’s invention, which she patented in 1951. Although the diaper covers were a significant step forward for parents, Donovan wanted to continue improving her creation by designing absorbent, convenient paper diapers that parents could throw away. Donovan is now known as, “the mother of invention.” She also held an impressive Architecture degree from Yale University and patented 20 ideas during her lifetime.
4. The Dishwasher: Josephine Cochrane
To keep up with her social status, Josephine Cochrane hosted many dinner parties where she served entrees on antique china for her guests. She was never impressed by the way her servants washed her nice chinaware, so she started doing the task herself. After many days of washing her dishes, Cochrane had the bright idea of designing the first automatic dishwasher.
After Josephine’s husband, William, passed away in 1883, she was left with immense debt and very little money. She got more serious about bringing her dishwasher design to life and saw it as a way to earn an income. Three years later, Cochrane’s automatic dishwasher was patented in 1886 and was then sold to hotels, restaurants, hospitals, and colleges.
5. Coffee Filters: Melitta Bentz
Coffee drinkers can thank German housewife, Melitta Bentz, for her innovative paper coffee filter invention. Before the paper coffee filter came to fruition, people drank unfiltered coffee, scooped out grounds themselves, or used a cloth filter that required washing after each use. Drinking coffee was a messy process, and Melitta was determined to find a more pleasant way to enjoy her morning cup of joe. To create the paper coffee filter, Melitta pierced holes in the bottom of a brass pot and lined it with a piece of paper from her son’s school notebook to catch the coffee grounds, and voila! Her process worked. In 1908, she founded Melitta®, a popular coffee filter and drip-coffee manufacturer, to help coffee drinkers savor their cups of coffee without the mess.
6. Liquid Paper: Bette Nesmith Graham
Bette Nesmith Graham was a 1950’s working, single mom when she invented liquid paper. As an executive secretary, she typed many documents and letters but had an occasional blooper or two in her copy. In the ‘50s, typists didn’t have the luxury of autocorrect or spellcheck, so it was essential to create error-free documents on the first attempt.
One day, Nesmith noticed a man painting a sign for a bank storefront and became inspired by his editing method. The man painted over any errors in the sign’s background paint color. A lightbulb went off as she realized she could apply the same approach to paper. Nesmith invented, “Mistake Out,” by mixing water-based, white tempera paint to match the color of typing paper. She and her son, Michael Nesmith of the Monkees, packaged the product and changed its name to, “Liquid Paper.” Nesmith patented her invention and became a successful entrepreneur before later selling her product to Gillette® for nearly 50 million dollars.
Side note: In 1977, Michael Nesmith was one of the first musicians to release a music video for his hit, “Rio.” The video’s popularity was so high that he started a TV show, PopClips, with the sole purpose of showing music videos. The show was so successful that it led to the creation of MTV!
7. Chocolate Chip Cookies: Ruth Wakefield
Does the name Toll House® ring a bell? In 1938, Ruth Wakefield created a recipe that would become a classic favorite: chocolate chip cookies. She was initially a dietician before opening the Toll House Inn with her husband, Kenneth, in Whitman, Massachusetts. Wakefield called her delightful invention, “Toll House® Crunch Cookies,” which included Nestlé® semi-sweet chocolate as a main ingredient.
A year later, Wakefield gave Nestlé® the rights to print her recipe on their chocolate bar packaging for just one dollar and was given free chocolate for life in return. Nestlé® later brought Nestlé® Toll House® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels to grocery store shelves, which became known as chocolate chips. Today, Toll House® Chocolate Chip Cookies are on daily grocery lists and bring smiles to millions of cookie lovers’ faces.
8. Airborne: Victoria Knight-McDowell
As a mother and elementary school teacher, Victoria Knight-McDowell understood the importance of staying healthy all too well. Surrounded by children all day, she wanted to create a remedy to protect herself from the common cold, so she started experimenting with different herbal remedy recipes in her kitchen. In the late 90s, Knight-McDowell perfected her concoction and invented Airborne®. After just a year on the market, her Airborne® sales started matching her teaching income, and her product began to fly off the shelves. Knight-McDowell remained in the classroom as she sold millions of dollars in Airborne® revenue while helping adults and kids stay healthy.
Now that you’re inspired by these strong, intelligent moms, let us know how you’re going to spend Mother’s Day this year in the comments below. And if you’re a mom reading this article, ABC Insurance Agencies wishes you a very happy Mother’s Day full of celebration!
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