The Woman Who Invented The Windscreen Wiper

On a snowy day in New York City, 1902, Mary Anderson invented the windshield wiper.

The path between light-bulb moment and everyday driving essential was a rocky one however – that saw Anderson wait 109 years to be awarded any credit for her idea.

NPR bought the incredible story to light on its Morning Edition program, telling the tale of an independent and determined Anderson seeing a solution to a problem and navigating the steps necessary to see it become a reality.

It all began while watching a streetcar driver continually stopping to brush snow off the windshield. Inspired, she sketched up the earliest ever windscreen wiper – which was removable, fan-shaped and hand-cranked from inside the vehicle. A patent was filed for the “Window Cleaning Device” in June the following year, granted in November and then – well, nothing.

Manufacturers wouldn’t have a bar of it. They didn’t see the windscreen wiper as “of commercial value”. Anderson never made any money from her invention.

Anderson did live to see it (or a version of it, anyway) grace the windshields of cars around the world – although she never got any credit for it, until being inducted in the Inventors Hall of Fame in 2011.

You can listen to the whole story here:

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