Of the 57 patents Elijah McCoy — reportedly the namesake for the popular, complimentary phrase “the real McCoy” — received over his lifetime, the portable ironing board (for which he received patent approval in May 1874) may be one of the most timeless. As the story goes, having to iron on uneven surfaces frustrated his wife, Mary Eleanor Delaney, and so he created the ironing board to make her life a little easier. McCoy is also the man behind another major invention beloved by homeowners: the lawn sprinkler.
Also a New York City resident, Marie Van Brittan Brown created an early version of the modern home security system more than a century later. Feeling unsafe due to her neighborhood’s high crime … Continue reading Marie Van Brittan Brown
Anyone who’s ridden modern elevators has Alexander Miles to thank for the stair alternative’s automatic doors. Prior to his design’s 1867 patent, riders had to manually open and close two sets of doors … Continue reading Alexander Miles
A true visionary, Dr. Patricia Bath became the first female African American medical doctor to receive a medical patent when she invented a laser cataract treatment device called a Laserphaco Probe in 1986. (Bath was … Continue reading Dr. Patricia Bath