Many of the most meaningful innovations in our lives were patented during summer's hottest month. In 1998, to commemorate the rich history of patents and promote innovation and creativity, the United Inventors Association, the Academy of Applied Science, and Inventors Digest magazine joined together and officially dubbed August "National Inventors Month."
Inventions ranging from television to frozen food have their roots in August, so we're celebrating National Inventors Month with a look back at ten of the most important inventions that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) stamped into history in August.
Michael Owen—'Glass-shaping machine'
On Aug. 2, 1904, a patent was issued to Michael Owen for a "glass-shaping machine," which, in addition to shaping glass, shaped the future for mass-production of glass bottles, jars, and containers.
William Coolidge—'cathode ray tube'
American physicist Coolidge lived to be 102 and was awarded 83 patents during his lifetime. On Aug. 6, 1935, he received a patent for the cathode ray tube, a key component of televisions and other electronics applications.
Francis Holton—'Non-puncturable automobile tire'
Keeping countless automobiles on the go, US Patent No. 1,000,000 was issued to Francis Holton for his non-puncturable automobile tire on Aug. 8, 1911.
Rudolf Diesel—'Internal combustion engine'
Proving that fuel could be ignited without a spark, French inventor Rudolf Diesel was granted US Patent No. 608,845 on Aug. 9, 1898, for the internal combustion engine, also known as the Diesel engine.
Hedy Markey Lamarr—'Secret communication system'
Actress Hedy Lamarr wasn't just another pretty face. She was also a talented inventor. Together with George Antheil, Markey (Lamarr) received US Patent No. 2,292,387 on Aug. 11, 1942, for a secret communication system. Ultimately, their frequency-hopping technology was too advanced for its time, but it did serve as the basis for modern spread-spectrum communication technology, from which current Wi-Fi networking connections are derived.
Clarence Birdseye—'Method for packaging frozen foods'
US Patent No. 1,773,079 is for one cool invention: Clarence Birdseye's method for packaging frozen foods. Birdseye obtained the patent on Aug. 12, 1930, making a lasting impact on nutrient and flavor preservation for mass-distributed foods.
Henry Bosenberg—Plant Patent No. 1
On Aug. 18, 1949, the invention was in full bloom with the first-ever horticulture patent assignment: Plant Patent No. 1, issued to New Jersey's Henry Bosenberg for his climbing rose.
Philo Farnsworth—'Television system'
Put down that remote and cheer! On Aug. 20, 1930, inventor Philo Farnsworth was issued US Patent No. 1,773,980 for his television system, the first working all-electronic system. It used electronic scanning in both the pickup and display devices of what has become the modern television set. Often referred to as the father of television, Farnsworth's invention was based on a design he had conceived as a 14-year-old.
William Burroughs—'Adding and listing machine'
On Aug. 21, 1888, William Burroughs received a patent for the first practical adding and listing machine, also known as a calculator.
Whitcomb Judson—'Clasp locker'
Judson, a mechanical engineer, and inventor, pulled his ideas together to create the first zipper, which was patented Aug. 29, 1893, and exhibited at the Chicago World's Fair that same year.
Keep up the good work, inventors! We can't wait to see even more famous August patents.