Ruth Handler and Barbie

Ruth Handler’s Barbie doll was introduced to society at the New York Toy Fair on this date in 1959. Born Ruth Marianna Mosko in 1916 in Denver, Colorado, Handler was a child of immigrant parents from Poland. Her creation of Barbie (named after her daughter, Barbara) was designed as a quantum leap in how preadolescent girls approached doll […]

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Leo Hirshfield and the Tootsie Roll

According to Tootsie Roll Industries company lore, Tootsie Rolls were first offered for sale on this date in 1896 at a candy shop in New York City at a price of one penny. (For a version that disputes this accounting, click here.) The Tootsie Roll was created by Leo Hirshfield (or Hirschfeld, pictured left), an Austrian-born […]

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Edwin Land and the Instant Camera

Edwin Herbert Land, a Harvard drop-out, demonstrated the first instant camera (soon to become the Polaroid Land Camera) on this date in 1947. Land had already founded the Polaroid company in 1937 after inventing an inexpensive polarizing filter used in film, sunglasses, optical microscopes, and other gadgets. He later served as a scientific adviser under the […]

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August 2: Charles Lindbergh’s Jewish Engineer

Joseph Worth, an inventor and engineer who over the course of a decade helped design and build the radial, air-cooled “J-type” engine that powered Charles Lindbergh‘s Spirit of St. Louis across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927, died in Florida at 98 on this date in 1991. Worth was born in Kamanetz-Podolsk in the Ukraine and […]

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April 4: The Rolling Suitcase

Bernard Sadow’s patent application #3,653,474 for a rolling suitcase, filed in 1970, was granted on this date in 1972. “Whereas formerly, luggage would be handled by porters and be loaded or unloaded at points convenient to the street,” the patent stated, “the large terminals of today, particularly air terminals, have increased the difficulty of baggage-handling […]

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May 23: Moog (as in “Vogue”)

Robert Moog, inventor of the Moog synthesizer, one of the first electronic instruments widely embraced in the musical world, was born in New York City on this date in 1934. His synthesizer was made possible by the invention of the transistor, which replaced bulky vacuum-tube electronic systems in the 1950s. The Moog synthesizer was demonstrated […]

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November 9: Inventors' Days

Of the numerous countries that have proclaimed “Inventors’ Days,” and at least four of them base their celebrations on the birthdates of Jewish inventors. Germany, Austria, and Switzerland observe it on today’s date, November 9th, in honor of the birth of Hedy Lamarr, the Austrian-born actress who invented a “frequency-hopping spread-spectrum communication system” that became […]

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July 18: 500 Patents

Jerome H. Lemelson, who held more than 500 patents for essential components of 20th-century technology, was born on Staten Island on this date in 1923. Lemelson conceived and patented ideas for elements of automatic teller machines (ATMs), automatic warehousing systems, bar code readers, camcorders, computer hard drives, cordless phones, fax machines, industrial robots, injection molding, […]

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March 30: The Pencil Patent

Hyman Lipman of Philadelphia was granted a patent for a pencil with a rubber eraser on its end on this date in 1858. Both the graphite and the eraser of Lipman’s pencil could be sharpened. Lipman also founded the first envelope company in the U.S., in 1843, and bought a patent for the postcard,  created […]

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September 18: The Lost Inventor of the Auto

Siegfried Marcus, who invented the first vehicle propelled by an internal combustion engine — that is, the first car — in  1870, was born in Germany on this date in 1831. Marcus held 130 patents in sixteen different countries and created ignition devices, telegraph systems, and several different car models — though he never sought […]

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