1. William Addis – Toothbrush
William Addis was languishing in a British jail in 1770. People used to use cloths with salt and coal dust to clean their teeth at the time. He had an idea to drill a hole in a piece of wood and put some tuft bristles in it. Then, he fixed them in place with glue. He went on to make a fortune from the industrial production of toothbrushes. The company he founded, Wisdom Toothbrushes, is still in operation today.
2. William Upjohn – Effervescent Pill
Before William Upjohn invented effervescent pills, people ingested medications in the form of powders or drops. He invented them in 1880 and invented a machine to mass produce them some four years later. A further two years after that Upjohn founded the Upjohn Pill and Granule Company. It existed for nearly a century before merging with another company in 1995.
3. Whitcomb Judson – Zipper
Despite being an almost-unknown quantity, inventor Whitcomb Judson registered some three dozen inventions in his lifetime, including the zipper, which he patented in 1892. He initially intended for zippers to be used to secure shoes to people's feet (instead of laces). Sadly, Judson passed away before his creation became popular.
4. Albert J. Parkhouse – Clothes Hanger
The inventor of the first clothes hanger is a matter of great debate, with many believing that the first wooden model was invented by none other than American Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson. With that being said, most agree that clothes hangers in their contemporary form were designed by Albert J. Parkhouse. He patented it his invention in 1903.
5. Willis Carrier – Air Conditioner
The very first machine capable of cooling air using a non-toxic and non-flammable refrigerant was created by inventor Willis Carrier at the turn of the 20th century. He added a mechanism to regulate humidity in 1902. Carrier went on to found the Carrier Engineering Corporation in 1915.
6. Garrett Morgan – Traffic Light
A terrible car accident spurred Garrett Morgan into inventing traffic lights. He came up with the "stop" and "go" signals, as well as a "stop everybody" signal. Morgan filed his traffic light patent in 1922 and later sold the copyrights to General Electric in 1922. That company actually developed the electric traffic light.
7. Lazslo Biro – Ballpoint Pen
Budapest native Laszlo Biro was a journalist who decided to use printer ink in his fountain pen instead of conventional ink when he saw that it dried faster and blotted less. His idea didn't work, so he invented a ball head that rotated and distributed ink evenly on the paper. He patented his invention in 1938 before it was bought by Marcel Bich, who in turn created the Bic ballpoint pen.
8. Georges de Mestral – Hook-and-loop Fastener
Swiss engineer Georges de Mestral came up with the idea for Velcro after thistle heads got stuck in his dog's coat after taking him out for a walk. When he examined them under a microscope, he saw that they had tiny hooks. This inspired the hook-and-loop buckle that's used in what we know as Velcro.