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Inventions, innovations, events and important people of the 1920s

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Ian Armstrong

on 21 October 2013

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Transcript of Inventions, innovations, events and important people of the 1920s

Inventions of the 1920s
Timeline of the
By Ian Armstrong
John T.Thompson: The Tommy Gun
The Thompson (often referred to as Thompson sub machine gun) is an American sub machine gun, invented by John T. Thompson in 1919, that became infamous during the Prohibition era. It was a common sight in the media of the time, being used by both law enforcement officers and criminals.The Thompson was also known informally as: the "Tommy Gun", "Trench Broom", "Trench Sweeper", "Chicago Typewriter", "Chicago Piano", "Chicago Style", "Chicago Organ Grinder", and "The Chopper".
Band Aid:
The Band-Aid was invented in 1920 by Johnson & Johnson employee Earle Dickson for his wife Josephine, who frequently cut and burned herself while cooking. The prototype allowed her to dress her wounds without assistance. Dickson passed the idea on to his employer, which went on to produce and market the product as the Band-Aid. Dickson had a successful career at Johnson & Johnson, rising to vice president before his retirement in 1957.
The original Band-Aids were handmade and not very popular. By 1924, Johnson & Johnson introduced a machine that produced sterilized Band-Aids. In World War II, millions were shipped overseas, helping popularize the product.

Karel Capek: The robot
The acclaimed Czech playwright, Karel Capek, made famous the word robot, the Czech word for forced labor or serf. Capek introduced the word in his play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) first performed in Prague in January 1921. Capek's play presents a paradise where robot machines initially provide many benefits for humans, but in the end bring an equal amount of blight in the form of unemployment and social unrest.

The polygraph machine
The lie detector: An earlier and less successful lie detector or polygraph machine was invented by James Mackenzie in 1902. However, the modern polygraph machine was invented by John Larson in 1921. John Larson, a University of California medical student, invented the modern lie detector (polygraph) in 1921. Used in police interrogation and investigation since 1924, the lie detector is still controversial among psychologists, and is not always judicially acceptable. The name polygraph comes from the fact that the machine records several different body responses simultaneously as the individual is questioned.

Sir Frederick Grant Banting: Insulin
Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas. It was isolated in 1921-22 at the University of Toronto. The scientists involved in the research were Dr. Fredrick Banting, Charles Best (a medical student at the time of the discovery), Professor J. J. R. Macleod and Dr. James Collip. On June 3, 1934, Dr Frederick Banting the co-inventor of insulin was knighted for his medical discovery.


The Department of National Defense comes into being January 1st. The Department of National Defense , commonly abbreviated as DND, is a Canadian government department responsible for defending Canada's interests and values at home and abroad, as well as contributing to international peace and security. National Defense is the largest department of the Government of Canada in terms of budget as well as staff. The Department is headed by the Deputy Minister of National Defense, who is the Department’s senior civil servant, and reports directly to the Minister of National Defense. The Department of National Defense exists to aide the minister in carrying out his responsibilities, and acts as the civilian support system for the Canadian Forces.

The Blue Nose: Bluenose was a Canadian fishing and racing schooner from Nova Scotia built in 1921. A celebrated racing ship and hard-working fishing vessel, Bluenose under the command of Angus Walters became a provincial icon for Nova Scotia and an important Canadian symbol in the 1930s. She was later commemorated by a replica Bluenose II built in 1963; leaking and worn out, it was dismantled in 2010, and rebuilt in the same shipyard as its ancestors in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, and launched in 2013. The name "bluenose" originated as a nickname for Nova Scotians from as early as the late 18th century.
Penicillin: In 1928, Sir Alexander Fleming observed that colonies of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus could be destroyed by the mold Penicillium notatum, proving that there was an antibacterial agent there in principle. This principle later lead to medicines that could kill certain types of disease-causing bacteria inside the body.

The Iron lung:
The first modern and practical respirator nicknamed the "iron lung" was invented by Harvard medical researchers Philip Drinker and Louis Agassiz Shaw in 1927. The inventors used an iron box and two vacuum cleaners to build their prototype respirator. Almost the length of a subcompact car, the iron lung exerted a push-pull motion on the chest.
In 1927, the first iron lung was installed at Bellevue hospital in New York City. The first patients of the iron lung were polio sufferers with chest paralysis.

Frozen Food: When we crave fresh fruits and vegetables in the middle of winter, we can thank Clarence Birdseye for the next best thing. Clarence Birdseye invented, developed, and commercialized a method for quick-freezing food products in convenient packages and without altering the original taste. While Clarence Birdseye has become a household name, his process has evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry.

In 1923, with an investment of $7 for an electric fan, buckets of brine, and cakes of ice, Clarence Birdseye invented and later perfected a system of packing fresh food into waxed cardboard boxes and flash-freezing under high pressure. The Goldman-Sachs Trading Corporation and the Postum Company (later the General Foods Corporation) bought Clarence Birdseye’s patents and trademarks in 1929 for $22 million. The first quick-frozen vegetables, fruits, seafoods, and meat were sold to the public for the first time in 1930 in Springfield, Massachusetts, under the tradename Birds Eye Frosted Foods®.

Bubble gum: In 1928, an employee of the Frank H. Fleer Company, Walter Diemer invented the successful pink colored Double Bubble, bubble gum. The very first bubble gum was invented by Frank Henry Fleer in 1906. He called it Blibber-Blubber. Fleer's recipe was later perfected by Walter Diemer, who called his product Double Bubble.

Wallace Rupert Turnbull: This device adjusts the angle at which propeller blades cut the air and it became as essential to aviation as the gearbox is to the automobile. It provides for safety and efficiency at all engine speeds, for example, maximum power on takeoff and landings and economical cruising for long distances. It was independently perfected in several countries, so that Turnbull's work has been overlooked by most historians, perhaps because he licensed its manufacture and went on with other inventions. But his variable-pitch propeller (now in the National Aviation Museum, Ottawa) appears to have been the first to fly successfully.

Liquid-propellant rocket: Robert Goddard was one of the three most prominent pioneers of rocketry and spaceflight theory. He earned his Ph.D. in physics at Clark University in 1911 and went on to become head of the Clark physics department and director of its physical laboratories.
He began to work seriously on rocket development in 1909 and is credited with launching the world's first liquid-propellant rocket in 1926. On March 16, 1926, Goddard successfully tested the first liquid fuel rocket, at Auburn Massachusetts.

YoYo: People in the United States started playing with the British bandalore or yoyo in the 1860s. It was not until the 1920s that Americans first heard the word yoyo. Pedro Flores, a Philippine immigrant, began manufacturing a toy labeled with that name. Flores became the first person to mass-produce toy yoyos, at his small toy factory located in California.

Aerosol Spray Cans: The concept of an aerosol originated as early as 1790, when self-pressurized carbonated beverages were introduced in France. In 1837, a man called Perpigna invented a soda siphon incorporating a valve. Metal spray cans were being tested as early as 1862. They were constructed from heavy steel and were too bulky to be commercially successful.

On November 23, 1927, Norwegian engineer Erik Rotheim (also spelled Eric Rotheim) patented the first aerosol can and valve that could hold and dispense products and propellant systems. This was the forerunner of the modern aerosol can and valve. In 1998, the Norwegian post office issued a stamp celebrating the Norwegian invention of the spray can.

The Morgan Traffic Signal: The first American-made automobiles were introduced to U.S. consumers shortly before the turn of the century. The Ford Motor Company was founded in 1903 and with it American consumers began to discover the adventures of the open road. In the early years of the 20th century it was not uncommon for bicycles, animal-powered wagons, and new gasoline-powered motor vehicles to share the same streets and roadways with pedestrians. Accidents were frequent. After witnessing a collision between an automobile and a horse-drawn carriage, Garrett Morgan took his turn at inventing a traffic signal. Other inventors had experimented with, marketed, and even patented traffic signals, however, Garrett Morgan was one of the first to apply for and acquire a U.S. patent for an inexpensive to produce traffic signal. The patent was granted on November 20, 1923. Garrett Morgan also had his invention patented in Great Britain and Canada. Garrett Morgan stated in his patent for the traffic signal, "This invention relates to traffic signals, and particularly to those which are adapted to be positioned adjacent the intersection of two or more streets and are manually operable for directing the flow of traffic... In addition, my invention contemplates the provision of a signal which may be readily and cheaply manufactured."

Pop up toaster: The pop-up toaster was invented by Charles Strite and patented on October 18th, 1921. It wasn’t until the 1930s, when sliced bread became sold on store shelves, that toaster prices fell and became more reachable for consumers. Bread now became toast every time, without burning.

Air conditioner: In 1921, Willis Carrier patented the centrifugal refrigeration machine, and in 1924, put them in commercial areas. Consumers ached to be bathed in stores and movie theaters brand new “air conditioning”, and those theater’s business skyrocketed. The first air conditioner meant for home use, called the “Weathermaker” was invented in 1928, bringing cool to the owner.
Radio: The first commercial radio broadcast took place in Pittsburgh, PA on November 2, 1920. Soon, radios became almost a necessity even to those who could barely make ends meet. The radio changed communication, created a new form of entertainment, and changed how people were informed of current events and news. By 1929, Paul Galvin had invented the car radio, so even while traveling, people could hear news. By 1933, 60% of America’s households had radio.
Sliced Bread: While sliced bread doesn’t really sound like an invention, before Otto Rohwedder, there was no way to buy a loaf of sliced bread. When Rohwedder succeeded in inventing a bread slicer, no one would use it because the bread went stale too fast. But he solved the issue by wrapping the bread in wax paper. In 1928, sliced bread began to be sold in grocery stores, called “Sliced Kleen Maid Bread”.
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