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Who invented the windscreen wiper? This post celebrates the forerunners who inspire with their inventions borne out of everyday use. You don’t have to be at MIT or NASA to come up with a new idea. Every object and ritual around us is due an update or a revolution – even if it’s only small.

Mary's wipers

It was winter 1903 and Mary Anderson was driving in the snow from Alabama to New York. Car ownership was already beginning to spread, even in those pre Ford days. US car ownership rose from about 9000 in 1900 to almost 100,000 in 1905.

As Mary drove along, she noticed an odd, though seemingly unavoidable, ritual. Drivers would pull over every few miles, get out, clear the snow of their window, get back in and drive on. Others would keep their side windows rolled down at all times to push the stuff away with an arm if possible. Mary saw this and sought to improve the situation.

Within the year she had filed a patent for the first in-car windscreen wipers. At first, the automobile industry saw little commercial value in her invention. Through iterations of the idea, it became integrated into standard car manufacture a decade later.

This simple improvement continues to help drivers every day.

Here's a little more about Mary Anderson, inventor of the windscreen wiper.

What will you invent?

Think you haven’t got any ideas? Every time someone complains about something being too slow, fast, heavy, awkward, ugly or difficult there’s the potential for a new idea.