10 Great Jewish Inventions – aish.com
We can thank the tribesmen for many wacky, wonderful, important and life-changing inventions of the past 120 years.
1. The teddy bear
Clifford Berryman’s political cartoon that inspired the teddy bear.
Did you know that the teddy bear owes its existence to a Jewish couple?
Brooklyn candy store owner Morris Michtom and his wife, Rose, created a teddy bear in honor of Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt. It all started when Roosevelt went on a hunting trip in 1902 but failed to locate a single bear. His aides allegedly cornered and tied a black bear to a tree for the US president to put down.
A big game hunter, Roosevelt refused to kill the bear because it would be unsportsmanlike, according to the National Park Service. A political cartoonist has turned the fateful hunting trip into satire. When the Michtoms saw the cartoon, they decided to make a new toy and call it “Teddy’s Bear”. Their invention was extremely popular.
Meanwhile, across the ocean, a German family named Steiff has created stuffed bears with shoe-button eyes and embroidered noses.
2. Yakity-Yak Talking Teeth
Give credit to another Jewish inventor for providing lots of laughs with his talking Yakity-Yak teeth. In the 1940s, an advertisement for a wearer of false teeth called a “tooth garage” amused Eddy Goldfarb. He imagined a pair of dentures gnawing, spitting on the road and parking in their place.
This image inspired Goldfarb to create a wind-up toy known as the snapping teeth. When his gags debuted in 1950, the packaging read, “Amazing! They walk, they talk, they are alive! Even as a youngster in Chicago, Goldfarb was inventing toys and making action figures from the cardboard inserts in washed shirts.
3. Sam Born, the candy man
The novelty business also appealed to a confectioner born in 1891 who was educated in Berdichev, Ukraine, at the city’s rabbinical school. When Sam Born’s family moved to France, he landed a nice job at a candy store and learned the trade.
In 1910 Born emigrated to the United States and was responsible for many innovations, including chocolate chip production technology, known as the Jimmies; the hard chocolate coating used for popsicle pies; and was awarded the Keys to the City of San Francisco in 1916 for inventing a machine that mechanically inserted sticks into lollipops called the Born Cupping Machine.
He started making candies in 1923, calling his company Just Born because the products were so fresh. His company created Mike and Ike, Hot Tamales and Peanut Chews, earning him a place in the Candy Hall of Fame.
4. The ballpoint pen
Laszlo Biro, a Hungarian-Argentinian inventor, came up with the idea of the modern ballpoint pen. He worked as an editor for newspapers in Hungary and had a problem with fountain pen ink, which smudged and took a long time to dry. Meanwhile, he noticed, the ink from the newspaper presses didn’t smudge and dried quickly.
He tried to put the same ink in a fountain pen, but couldn’t get it to flow into the nib. So Laszlo Biro worked with his brother, a chemist, and developed a new tip with a ball that moved freely in a socket. The Biros presented the first functional ballpoint pen at the Budapest International Fair in 1931.
5. Instant cameras
Edwin Land, co-founder of Polaroid Corporation, made it possible to take pictures and develop them almost immediately. In 1947 he demonstrated the Polaroid Land camera, which could produce a finished print in 60 seconds. Land’s photographic process soon found many applications in business, science, and the military. Before his death in 1991, the New Englander had received over 500 patents for his innovations in light and plastics.
6. Word processing computer
Pioneer Evelyn Berezin was born in New York in 1925 to Jewish immigrants from Russia. She designed the first true word processing computer. It also developed the first automated airline reservation system. United Airlines put their invention into service in 1955. It served 60 cities across the United States with a one-second response time and no central system failures in 11 years of operation, according to the Computer History Museum.
Berezin received his BA in physics from New York University in 1945 and an Atomic Energy Commission fellowship for graduate study in 1946. His interest in physics stemmed from reading the science fiction periodicals of his brother.
7. Mobile phones
Credit engineers at Motorola’s research and development center in Israel for developing the original cellphone technology. “From the tool that protects your mobile identity to a new keyboard solution, Israeli expertise keeps your phone from getting bigger while staying at the cutting edge of technology,” according to ISRAEL21c.
8. Video Games
Who can believe that video games have already been around for 50 years? Ralph Baer, whose family fled Germany just before World War II, helped pave the way for the gaming systems we know today. The Jewish engineer began studying how to play games on a television in 1966. Then he and two colleagues created several test units. The result was the Brown Box, a prototype of the first multiplayer, multiprogram video game system. Baer licensed it to Magnavox, who released the design as the Odyssey in 1972.
9. Camera phone
Do you remember life before smartphones and selfies? This is the case of baby boomer Philippe Kahn. He was born in Paris in 1952 to Jewish immigrants of modest means. Her mother was a Holocaust survivor. The birth of his daughter in 1997 triggered the birth of a new technology. Kahn wanted to take a picture of the baby and send it to friends straight from the hospital. While he was in the waiting room, he succeeded! He turned on his computer, wrote a few lines of code, synced it with his Motorola mobile phone and digital camera, and created the world’s first camera phone.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, now Silicon Valley billionaires, developed Google when they were graduate students in computer science at Stanford University. Page envisioned a World Wide Web search engine that could rank hyperlinks based on how often other pages linked to them. Brin helped turn the idea into PageRank, the basis of the Google search algorithm. The product went live on the Stanford network in 1996.
Jewish minds have created many other inventions that touch our lives, from cherry tomatoes to remote controls. But this is another story.