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10 Inventions & Contributions From Massachusetts That We Can’t Live Without

February 18, 2017

I may be biased having grown up in MA, but our little state has been responsible for some pretty massive contributions to modern life. I could have included the telephone in this list since good old Alexander Graham Bell is known to have done quite a bit of his work on the original prototype in Boston. However, there has been a good deal of controversy – and several patent lawsuits – surrounding this issue, so we’ll leave that one to the lawyers.

Even without the glorious telephone to our name, these other 10 items are pretty phenomenal – seriously, what would life be without chocolate chip cookies??

Tupperware

Earl Tupper was originally from NH, but he was working at a factory in Leominster, MA when he invented every 50’s housewife’s dream – burp-sealing, freshness-preserving Tupperware!

 

Disposable Razors

King Camp Gillette was shaving his face with an old-fashioned straight razor in 1895 when he dreamed up the idea for a disposable razor that would not require constant sharpening. His invention took the world by storm in 1903.

 

The World Wide Web

MIT professor Tim Berners-Lee is credited with having conceptualized the world wide web in 1990. Not to be confused with the internet which is a gigantic series of networks, the world wide web is a simplified method for accessing all that scattered information in an organized fashion.

 

Spreadsheets

I personally despise spreadsheets, but there are a lot of nerdy numbers-types out there who swear by them. Those folks have two Boston grad students to thank. Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston invented VisiCalc in the late 70’s, widely considered the precursor to today’s modern digital spreadsheets.

 

The Ballpoint Pen

If it weren’t for John J. Loud of Weymouth, Massachusetts who invented the modern ballpoint pen in 1888, we’d all still be dipping quills in India ink! Well, I’m sure we would have figured something out by now, but still.

 

The Monkey Wrench

Referred to in modern times as the adjustable auto wrench since it’s currently mostly used on cars and heavier jobs, the monkey wrench was invented by Loring Coes of Worcester, MA in 1841.

 

The Paper Bag

The simple and underappreciated paper bag was patented by Luther C. Crowell from West Dennis, MA in 1872. Although many people are reverting back to reusable sacks to carry their lunch, these little brown staples were in every kitchen in the 70’s and 80’s.

 

The Iron Lung

Now here’s an invention that millions of people literally could not live without! Patients afflicted with Polio and other respiratory illnesses were saved by this Harvard-developed invention from 1927.

Image Credit: USFDA via WikiMedia

 

Rubber Tires 

Modern travel owes a massive debt of gratitude to Mr. Charles Goodyear of Woburn, MA who developed the process of vulcanizing rubber in 1839. He patented his process in 1844, and his legacy still dominates the tire industry today.

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ruth Graves Wakefield, owner of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, MA created the chocolate chip cookie by mistake in 1938. She was making cookies and ran out of baking chocolate. She used bits of chocolate instead, expecting the pieces to melt and spread throughout the dough. Instead, she inadvertently invented the glorious treat we all know and love.