The history of car windshield wiper

07/13/2018

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On 1913, the windshield wiper patents were awarded to a woman, Mary Anderson.

The U.S Patent No 743,801 was rewarded to Mary Anderson, a Birmingham, Alabama woman for her world-changing invention – the windshield wiper. After receiving her patent, Anderson tried to sell her invention to a Canadian manufacturer factory, but the company thought it wouldn’t bring them much revenue and turned Anderson down. Although the windshield wipers were widely used worldwide by the time of 1913, Anderson had never received a dime from it.

a windshield wiper

Anderson had never received a dime from her world-wide used invention

Back to the original story, on an extreme winter day at the end of 19th century, Mary Anderson was on a cab on her way to New York City, she began to notice that the driver had difficulty observing the driveway because his windshield was covered with snow. Back then, the trolley’s windshield was designed to solve poor vision problem during bad weather conditions, the driver could actually open it to manually remove the obstruction. It worked how it sounds: badly. It requires the driver, sometimes even the passengers, to the withstand the harshness of the weather with their unprotected faces, and it didn’t work for a long time until the driver has to perform the procedure once again.

rain spots on a car window

Rain and snow were major obstacles that reduce drivers' vision

Anderson started to think of the windshield wiper design right after the moment she saw the struggling driver. After some sketches, she finalized the design that did the job: a set of mechanical arms made of wood, the wiping part that is made of rubber, operated by a lever installed near the steering wheel. When the lever is pulled, she dragged the arms across the windshield and back again, wipe away raindrop, snowflakes, and all other obstructions, giving the driver clean vision handily. At the end of the winter, the device can be removed, cleaned and put away for next year’s usage. It is believed that the feature was introduced to attract customers live where it doesn’t rain in the summer.

History of Windshield Wipers | Illuminating Moments in American History

At first, people laughed at Mary Anderson’s invention, claiming that the wiper can do no good but distract the driver from the road and increase the rate of accidents. Unfortunately, the patent had expired before the world realized how useful it is.

In 1917, another woman named Charlotte Bridgewood claimed her right for the invention of “Electric Storm Windshield Cleaner”, an upgraded version of the Mary Anderson’s one, it automatically wipes the windshield whenever turned on, and she replaced the blades with rollers. However, similar to her fellow woman Mary Anderson, Bridgewood didn’t earn any money from her invention.

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