Famous Women Inventors

Josephine Cochran

In 1886, Josephine invented the first effective dishwasher.

She lived in Shelbyville, Illinois and was married to a wealthy businessman. Josephine would frequently have social gatherings and dinners at her home.

She would use her finest china when serving her guests - tableware that belonged to her family for over century. Josephine had servants but she didn't trust them to wash her china. She cleaned the dishes herself but hated it.

She decided to invent a dishwasher. She measured her dishes and built wire racks to hold her plates, cups and utensils.

She fitted a wheel into the bottom of a copper boiler and attached it through a hole to a motor and pump. She then placed her rack of dishes on the wheel.

When the motor was turned on, her rack of dishes would be sprayed with soapy water as they spun around.

It worked really well and all her friends wanted one. She made her dishwashers in a shed in her backyard and started a company to sell her invention to restaurants and hotels.

She received a patent for her famous invention and her company was later sold to Kitchen Aid, a subsidiary of the Whirlpool Corporation.

Marion Donovan

Marion, a housewife with two young children, invented the disposable diaper.

The moisture-proof diaper was designed to allow airflow and prevent rashes. It was made of absorbent paper and covered with nylon parachute cloth. The diaper fastened with snaps instead of safety pins.

She couldn't interest any manufacturer in her invention so in 1949 she started her own company - Donovan Enterprises.

A few years this famous women inventor sold her company and patent rights to Keko Corporation for one million dollars.

Bette Nesmith Graham

Bette is perhaps one of the most famous women inventors. She was a single mom working as a secretary in Dallas. She wanted an easier way to correct typing mistakes instead of retyping an entire page.

As an aspiring artist, she knew that painters often painted over their mistakes on canvas. She decided to try the same thing with paper.

Bette experimented in her kitchen using her blender to mix different ingredients that might work.

She discovered that a white, tempera water base paint would cover a typing error and allow for a correction to be typed over the paint.

She took her paint and a brush to work. She called her invention "Mistake Out".

Soon other secretaries were asking for bottles of her paint. She would make the product in her kitchen and her son Michael and his friends would help fill bottles.

(Michael would later become famous as a member of The Monkees).

Bette started her own company, The Mistake Out Company, to make and sell her invention. She later renamed her product "Liquid Paper" and changed the company name to the "Liquid Paper Company.

Business boomed!

In 1975, Liquid Paper had a 35,000 sq. ft. manufacturing plant producing 25 million bottles a year with sales in over 31 countries.

In 1979, she sold her company for $47.5 million to the Gillette Corporation.


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