How many times have you used windshield wipers in your life? Probably countless times, if you are a driver. Our dependency on windshield wipers on rainy and snowy days is so heavy that we tend to forget that with the wipers, we probably would not be able to travel anywhere when there is bad weather. However, when was the windshield wiper invented and how? We should first take a look at the times before the invention of this crucial device.
In the early 1900s, windshield wipers were not invented yet so drivers, when it was raining, had to attempt to see the road through the precipitation, which was extremely dangerous because they could miss pedestrians or small cars coming around the corner. When there was sleet and snow, drivers could not see through it so they had to reach to the window to wipe the sleet and snow off the windshield by hand every few minutes. Sometimes, drivers would even have to pop their head out of the window in order to see where they were driving. In addition, drivers became cold very quickly and would lose their focus and concentration on driving, which in turn led to unsafe driving. This outrageous phenomenon was observed by Mary Anderson, who was riding in a trolley car on a frosty day in New York City in 1903; Mary found it hard to see all the beautiful sights in the city through the window of the car and eventually sought to change this.
BACKGROUND ON THE INVENTOR
Mary Anderson was born in the Greene County, Alabama in 1866. As a rancher, American real estate developer, and future inventor of the windshield wiper, Mary was a very clever and creative person. Living a quiet life,Mary built the Fairmont Apartments on Highland Avenue after settling in Birmingham, Alabama in 1889. However, by 1893, Mary had moved to Fresno, California for 5 years until eventually moving back to Birmingham and passed away there peacefully. Though living a simple and quiet life, Mary accomplished quiet a lot: the most memorable of which is being granted a first patent in November 1903 for the windshield wiper. Little did the later famous scientist know that the windshield wiper still lives on and has become a very vital aspect towards safe driving in our lives.
BACKGROUND ON THE INVENTION
The device Mary Anderson first envisioned would be attached to the outside of the car. It would have a long arm loaded with springs and a rubber blade. The driver would have to turn a handle from inside the car and this would then activate the windshield wiper and wipe the snow or rain off the windshield. It was absolutely amazing how this could all be done without having drivers sticking out their hands in the freezing cold! After filing the patent for the windshield wipers in 1903, Mary was rejected numerous times because the device seemed useless and could potentially distract drivers. This fact held a bit of truth as in the early 20th century, cars did not go fast enough to require windshields, and besides major urban city civilians, few people even had cars.
This invention was soon forgotten until the 1950s when car safety became a huge priority: that was when safer breaks and seat belts were invented. When the windshield wiper patent lapsed, many other inventors assumed the original invention and altered it to better suit the modern day cars that we have. By then, cars became much more affordable and commonplace, thus windshield wipers became standard and a legal requirement. However, Mary Anderson lives on in one of the most important inventions of all time. The windshield wiper is vital to driving in bad conditions because it offers us a chance to drive safety, to see the beautiful sights around even in bad weather, and to keep warm inside the vehicle!