I. Hymen Lipman-ERASER
On March 30, 1858, Lipman was granted a patent for a pencil with an eraser attached. It was easier to use than a feather plucked from a random bird’s ass, pencils had existed before this, but Lipman’s design has been the standard ever since.
II. Joseph Friedman-BENDY STRAW
Joseph Friedman had several patents to his name, but he would build his fortune around one: the bendy straw.
III. Seiichi Miyake-ROAD INDICATORS
Those little nubs and other raised indicators on sidewalks, in train stations, and around other walkways didn’t always exist. In fact, in the U.S., they have only been around for the last three decades or so. They are called tactile blocks or tactile paving indicators, and they were developed in the mid-1960s by Seiichi Miyake.
IV. Charles Richard Drew-BLOOD BANK
Dr. Charles R. Drew did not invent the blood transfusion; those had been done for centuries before he was born. However, Drew did invent the modern blood bank, and his work has saved an incalculable number of lives.
Due to racist membership standards, Dr. Drew died without being accepted into the American Medical Association or the American College of Surgeons.
V. Ole Kirk Christainsen -LEGO TOYS
LEGO is known for its iconic bricks, but Christiansen’s earliest iteration of LEGO produced a wide range of toys. He made things like yo-yos and wooden ducks, and each of his products carried the sort of quality one might expect from a seasoned woodworker.
VI. Ermal Fraze-CANNED DRINKS
Next time you reach for your canned beverage of choice (Room temp Clamato, yum!), think of Ermal “Ernie” Fraze, the man who made sure that we never have to carry a tool to open cans.
VII. Otto Wichterle-CONTACT LENS
Contact lenses have existed in some form for centuries. Inventors probably got tired of being called four eyes, and correcting vision without noticeable frames was an ongoing endeavor. It was not until the early 1960s that Czech chemist Otto Wichterle invented the modern soft contact lenses that gave nerds worldwide the ability to live hidden among us without the optical discomfort.