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THIS MONTH’S TOPIC: INVENTIONS



How was the shopping cart invented?

One night, in 1936, a Jewish businessman named Sylvan Goldman sat in his office, wondering how he could get customers to purchase more groceries while shopping in his stores. Mr. Goldman owned half of a supermarket chain called Piggly-Wiggly. His thinking was simple: if customers found shopping easy and convenient, they would buy more products and return more often. Suddenly, an idea popped into Goldman’s head, as he took notice of a wooden folding chair that was in his office.

His mind was racing: He could put a basket on the seat, wheels on the legs. . . Wait a minute. Why not two baskets, one above the other? Goldman called in his mechanic, Fred Young, and they began to build the first shopping cart.

The world’s first shopping cart was introduced on June 4, 1937. It consisted of a metal frame on wheels, and it held two wire baskets. It could also be folded up for storage.

When was the pen invented?

Although a Jewish-Hungarian journalist named LászlóBíróis credited for inventing the first ballpoint pen in 1938, the principle behind the ballpoint pen was first introduced in 1888 by a leather tanner named John Loud.

Loud’s pen featured a reservoir of ink and a roller ball that applied thick ink to leather hides. However, Loud’s pen had faults. The pens would leak if the ink was thin and would clog if the ink was thick. Loud’s pen was never produced.

Almost fifty years later, LászlóBíróinvented an improved version of Loud’s pen. Bírónoticed that the type of ink used in newspaper printing dried quickly, leaving the paper dry and smudge-free. He decided to create a pen using that same type of thick ink. But the thicker ink would not flow from a regular pen nib, so Bíróhad to devise a new type of point for the pen. He did so by fitting his pen with a tiny ball bearing in its tip, an improved version of Loud’s roller ball. As the pen moved along the paper, the ball rotated, picking up ink from the ink cartridge and leaving it on the paper. Bíró’s design of the ballpoint pen is in use to this day.

Who invented ice pops?

In 1905, eleven-year-old Frank Epperson was mixing powdered soda and water to make soda pop. He accidentally left the drink outside overnight, and when he returned for it the next morning, he discovered that the stick he was using to stir the mixture had frozen upright in the liquid. Epperson discovered that his frozen fruit-flavored drink tasted great. He originally called his invention ‘Epsicles’ and started selling them for five cents apiece.  In 1924, he changed the name to the one we're more familiar with today: Popsicle.

Question of the Month:

This month’s question was submitted by Stella of Lakewood, NJ.

Q: Dear Professor, When was the microwave invented?

A: In late 1946, Dr. Percy LaBaron Spencer invented the microwave oven. The first microwave oven was almost 6-feet tall, weighed over 750 pounds, and cost about $5,000!