Special Report

50 Things You Never Knew Were Invented by Women

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1. Circular saw
> Inventor: Tabitha Babbitt
> Year / period: 1812

While living in a Shaker community and working as a weaver, Babbitt watched people struggling to cut wood with a pit saw, which required two users and only cut in one direction. Determined to help, she attached a circular blade to her spinning wheel and invented the much more efficient circular saw.

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2. Aquarium
> Inventor: Jeanne Villepreux-Power
> Year / period: 1832

A French naturalist, Villepreux-Power was trying to prove that the paper nautilus does not take discarded shells from other organisms, but rather grows its own shell. To observe the creature for an extended period of time and to study marine life, she invented a glass aquarium.

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3. Ice cream maker
> Inventor: Nancy Johnson
> Year / period: 1843

Johnson had her priorities straight before freezers were even invented. She created a double-cylinder hand-crank ice cream machine. It could create two flavors that are frozen at the same time but separately.

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4. Computer algorithm
> Inventor: Ada Lovelace
> Year / period: 1843

While translating the notes of mathematics professor Charles Babbage for his theoretical invention the analytical engine, Lovelace added her own notes, tripling the original text, and is credited with writing the world’s first computer algorithm.

Source: Courtesy of US National Archives

5. Submarine lamp and telescope
> Inventor: Sarah Mather
> Year / period: 1845

Mather’s 1845 patent was for her “submarine telescope,” an apparatus with a lamp that was attached to a tube, which was then sunk under water. It was used not by underwater vessels, but by people above water attempting to see into the depths to investigate wrecks, damaged ship hulls, and enemy activity during the Civil War.

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