Cordless Tools

In 1895, C&E Fein, a German company, invented the first electric tool. It was a handheld drill weighing 16.5 pounds. The drill was underpowered because it ran on DC electricity. It also required two people to operate. In 1910, Duncan Black sold his car for $600 and used the funds to open a machine shop […]

Mass-Scale Desalination

Reverse osmosis enables large-scale desalination of seawater, efficiently transforming it into drinking water. People have been trying to desalinate seawater into drinking water for millennia. Firstly, Aristotle and other ancient Greeks unsuccessfully attempted to desalinate seawater. Eventually, by the 16th century, ship-based evaporation desalination systems created potable water. In time, by 1955, the first multi-stage […]

Just-In-Time Manufacturing

Just in time manufacturing delivers the parts required to complete a product shortly before they are needed. Accordingly, this vastly reduces inventory cost while typically increasing quality by aligning the manufacturing needs of part suppliers and the final manufacturer. Background Toyota engineer Taiichi Ohno needed a better way to manufacture. Specifically, efficiency was low and […]

Prefabricated Housing Components

History Limited amounts of prefabricated components date back to ancient times. Mesopotamian’s used burnt clay bricks. Romans utilized concrete molds for aqueducts and tunnels and William the Conqueror conquered the concept. There were movable modular buildings for industry, defense, and even hospitals. However, hand construction was the norm for the vast majority of houses and […]

Processed Foods with Statistical Quality Control

By design, countless food products look and taste exactly the same. Nobody opens a name-brand candy bar and wonders if it will taste different than any other bar they may have chosen. Each can of Coca Cola, Pepsi, or Guinness Beer tastes exactly the same as any other. All major food companies can thank Guinness […]

Moldboard Plow

Traditional plows would become gunked-up with soil, forcing farmers to repeatedly stop and clear away soil. Moldboard plows repel soil, lowering the cost of farming. John Deere was an ordinary blacksmith, creating pitchforks and other common farm instruments. Farmers complained about the time wasted stopping and clearing their plows. Deere thought there must be a […]

Fourdrinier Paper Making Machine

Fourdrinier machines transform wood pulp into enormous rolls of paper. They vastly reduced the manufacturing cost and, subsequently, the price of paper. Even the smallest Fourdrinier machine is massive and requires an enormous amount of water. Frenchman Louis Roberts invented the papermaking machine. His friend and confidant, Sealy Fourdrinier, patented and commercialized the technology in […]

Spinning Mule

Few inventions on innowiki have inspired as much social unrest at the spinning mule. The mule is a minor innovation compared to most others on the list. However, it caused a massive freak-out. The Luddite movement, that still exists to this day, if often wrongly credited to the printing press but actually began with the […]

Modern Management (Wedgwood)

Modern management, marketing, and high-end sales to ordinary people make pottery company Wedgwood a management innovator. Pottery dates back to ancient times. Fragments of pottery in China date back 20,000 years. Since then, for the most part, wherever archeologists find people they also find pottery. Therefore, opening a pottery manufacturer, especially in the 1700s, intuitively […]

Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS)

MEMS are literally microscopic-machines. The best-known MEMS are the accelerometers that have become ubiquitous in smartphones, allowing precise tracking of movement on the X, Y, and Z-axis. Significantly, MEMS are the reason your phone can sense movement. Additionally, other MEMS devices include miniature microphones, projectors, cameras, and countless others. MEMS were first proposed in 1959 […]