Every state has their claims to fame when it comes to product inventions and innovations, but I bet you didn’t know that every time you watch TV, nuke a burrito, or slap on your earmuffs for a chilly morning walk, you owe Maine a debt of gratitude.
These ten contributions from the Pine Tree State have played major roles in shaping the world as we know it.
1. The sealed dive-suit
Although he never actually created a physical prototype of the suit, inventor Leonard Norcross masterminded the idea for the first practical, sealed dive suit and patented it in 1834.
2. The machine gun
Hiram Maxim from Sangerville, Maine invented the world’s first portable, fully automatic machine gun in 1884. He called it the Maxim Gun and West Point has since declared it “the greatest boon since the wheel.” Maxim is also credited with creating variations on the mousetrap, curling irons, and steam pumps.
3. The steam-powered automobile
Twins Francis and Freelan Stanley invented a quieter vehicle for eluding police officers. Their Stanley Steamer (which I thought was a vacuum cleaner until I researched this post!) was created in 1897 and sold more than any other car up to that point. The twins eventually sold their patent to Locomobile.
4. The zig-zag stitch
Helen Augusta Blanchard of Portland, Maine pioneered the method for the zig-zag stitch. This stitch and several other sewing-related inventions were patented by Blanchard between 1873 and 1875. She is also credited with inventing the pencil sharpener.
OC Johnson of Waterville, Maine created the first vehicle for over-snow travel, although someone else took credit for giving it the name “snowmobile”. They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and in the case of the earmuffs and snowmobile, they are definitely Maine necessities!
7. The first transatlantic television signal
The world’s first transatlantic television signal beamed from Andover Earth Station, Maine, to the Pleumeur-Bodou Telecom Center, Brittany, France on July 12, 1962 thanks to NASA and Telestar, a communications company that is still in business today.
8. The microwave oven
Percy Spencer of Howland, Maine became an expert in radar tube design and participated in experiments using microwave rays. One day he noticed that his candy bar had melted in his pocket and began to see the potential of microwaves for heating food. He patented the first microwave cooking oven on October 8, 1945.