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MOST POPULAR* INVENTIONS  
 
  1.  light bulb The modern world is an electrified world. The light bulb, in particular, profoundly changed human existence by illuminating the night and making it hospitable to a wide range of human activity. The electric light, one of the everyday conveniences that most affects our lives, was invented in 1879 by Thomas Alva Edison. He was neither the first nor the only person trying to invent an incandescent light bulb.
  2. bubble gum In 1928, Walter Diemer was working as an accountant for the Fleer Chewing Gum Company in Philadelphia; what he wound up doing in his spare time was playing around with new gum recipes. But this latest batch was less sticky than regular chewing gum and it stretched more easily. His bubble gum was so successful that it sold over $1,500,000 U.S. dollars worth of gum in the first year.
  3. printing press In 1440, German inventor Johannes Gutenberg invented a printing press process that, with refinements and increased mechanization, remained the principal means of printing until the late 20th century. The inventor's method of printing from movable type, including the use of metal molds and alloys, a special press, and oil-based inks, allowed for the first time the mass production of printed books. 
 4. telephone Probably no means of communication has revolutionized the daily lives of ordinary people more than the telephone. The actual history of the telephone is a subject of complex dispute. The controversy began with the success of the invention and continues today. Some of the inventors credited with inventing the telephone include Antonio Meucci, Philip Reis, Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell. Bell's experiments with his assistant Thomas Watson finally proved successful on March 10, 1876, when the first complete sentence was transmitted: "Watson, come here; I want you.".
   5. refrigerator Carl von Linde, German engineer whose invention of a continuous process of liquefying gases in large quantities formed a basis for the modern technology of refrigeration. Refrigeration is chiefly used to store foodstuffs at low temperatures, thus inhibiting the destructive action of bacteria, yeast, and mold.
   6. potato chips n the summer of 1853, Native American George Crum was employed as a chef at an elegant resort in Saratoga Springs, New York. One dinner guest found Crum's French fries too thick for his liking and rejected the order. Crum decided to rile the guest by producing fries too thin and crisp to skewer with a fork. The plan backfired. The guest was ecstatic over the browned, paper-thin potatoes, and other diners began requesting Crum's potato chips
   7. chewing gum After he was defeated by the Americans in Texas, Mexican General Santa Anna was exiled to New York. Like many of his countrymen, Santa Anna chewed chicle. One day he introduced it to inventor Thomas Adams, who began experimenting with it as a substitute for rubber. Adams tried to make toys, masks, and rain boots out of chicle, but every experiment failed. Sitting in his workshop one day,tired and discouraged, he popped a piece of surplus stock into his mouth. In 1870, he opened the world’s first chewing gum factory making Adams New York No. 1.
   8. television In 1921 the 14-year-old Mormon had an idea while working on his father's Idaho farm. Mowing hay in rows, Philo realized an electron beam could scan a picture in horizontal lines, reproducing the image almost instantaneously. This would prove to be a critical breakthrough in Philo Farnsworth's invention of the television in 1927.
   9. Barbie doll Since its debut in 1959, an anatomically improbable molded plastic statuette named Barbie has become an icon. Ruth Handler undeniably invented an American icon that functions as both a steady outlet for girls' dreams and an ever changing reflection of American society. This can be seen in the history of Barbie's clothes, and even her various "face lifts" to suit the times; in her professional, political and charitable endeavors; and more recently in the multi-culturalizing of her product line.
10. traffic light Police Officer William L. Potts of Detroit, Michigan, decided to do something about the problem caused by the ever increasing number of automobiles on the streets. What he had in mind was figuring out a way to adapt railroad signals for street use. Potts used red, amber, and green railroad lights and about thirty-seven dollars worth of wire and electrical controls to make the world’s first 4-way three color traffic light.
* Based on page views at The Great Idea Finder during 2006
 
   
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