Here's How an Alabama Woman Stuck In NYC Traffic In 1902 Invented The Windshield Wiper

Mary Anderson's illustration of her 1903 patented "window cleaning device." The United States Patent and Trademark Office
Mary Anderson's illustration of her 1903 patented "window cleaning device." The United States Patent and Trademark Office
Photo: NPR

NPR's Joe's Big Idea series features dozens of short stories explaining how everyday items we all use were first invented. In this short clip from the show, hear how an Alabama woman named Mary Anderson invented the windshield wiper after being stuck in NYC traffic during a snowstorm in 1902.

Wingo says while Anderson was riding the streetcar that snowy day, "She observed that the streetcar driver had to get out and continually clean off the windshield." Naturally, that caused delays, and got Anderson wondering: What if there were some sort of blade that could wipe off the windshield without making the driver get out of the streetcar? Anderson went back to Birmingham, made a sketch of her device, and wrote up a description of it. Then she applied for a patent.

Listen to the clip below, then check out the accompanying article for more information.

via NPR

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