Related Videos

Top 10 Products Invented Because Of War

VO: Rebecca Brayton
War is hell, but these gadgets and gizmos are the silver lining. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 products invented because of war. For this list, we’re looking at products that were invented, perfected or popularized in their most common form during wartime because of a conflict – which means we are excluding any weaponry or obvious army equipment. And just to be clear, we’re not necessarily saying that these entries were worth the cost that came with them, but we do recognize their universal value to humanity.
Share
WatchMojo

You must register to a corporate account to download this video. Please login

Transcript
War is hell, but these gadgets and gizmos are the silver lining. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 products invented because of war.

For this list, we’re looking at products that were invented, perfected or popularized in their most common form during wartime because of a conflict – which means we are excluding any weaponry or obvious army equipment. And just to be clear, we’re not necessarily saying that these entries were worth the cost that came with them, but we do recognize their universal value to humanity.

#10: Canned Food (1810)
Napoleonic Wars

An army may march on its stomach, but with the French military’s limited food supply they weren’t marching too far. That changed when the government offered 12,000 francs to anyone who could invent a cheap, efficient way to preserve food. Chef Nicolas Appert answered the challenge with the suggestion of canning; this allowed troops to advance through any season, and let the rest of us eat delicious ravioli whenever we please. Canning has proved to be a dependable and long-lasting food storage method, which is good as the can opener was not patented until 1855.

#9: Disposable Sanitary Pads (1920)
World War I

In 1914, the Kimberly-Clark company marketed Cellucotton, which – being both cheaper and more absorbent than cotton – became the bandage material of choice during WWI. Soon after, military nurses struck upon the idea of using the material to cope with their own...personal monthly battles. Following the war’s end, Kimberly-Clark opted to formalize the battlefield invention, leading to the introduction of Kotex, or cotton textile, in 1920. The same material also led to the invention of the Kleenex brand of facial tissues in the early-1920s, and paved the way for the first modern tampons in the 1930s.

#8: Synthetic Rubber (1940)
World War II

Although there had been numerous prior attempts, synthetic rubber as we know it today did not come about until World War II. Developed by Waldo Semon for the BF Goodrich tire company, the new, less expensive synthetic rubber helped America’s war effort – and they needed it. While rubber was in high demand for almost all war machinery, supplies were limited as rubber producing territories were largely held by Axis forces. As scientists tinkered with the chemistry behind the material, they also unintentionally created Silly Putty, which was not quite as useful.

#7: Super Glue (1942)
World War II

Known now as the go-to glue with the super bond, it took Super Glue’s inventor nine-years to figure that out. First discovered by Harry Coover, Jr. of the Eastman Kodak company, the would-be product was intended for use as a plastic for gun sights during WWII. When that didn’t work, it was suggested for use in jet cockpits as a heat-resistant overlay. When that too was rejected, Coover realized the chemical’s stickiness was best utilized as a glue in 1951, and the product finally hit the commercial market in 1958.

#6: Stainless Steel (1913)
World War I

While the actual inventor or nation of origin of this product is up for debate, the discovery of this alloy was announced in 1915 and four-years later, a patent for the item was granted to American Elwood Haynes – who had applied for it in 1912. That same year, English metallurgist Harry Brearley also developed a stainless steel at the request of the British military, who wanted a rust-free material for gun manufacturing. Seeing as they were on the same track, the two then opted to join forces and formed the American Stainless Steel Corporation together.

#5: Walkie-Talkies (1937)
World War II

English-born Canadian inventor Donald Hings had developed the portable radio for pilots flying to isolated areas of the North, and filed a patent for the device shortly before Canada declared war on Germany in 1939. Hings was then dispatched to Ottawa to fine-tune the instrument according to military specs and served in that capacity until 1945, eventually earning an MBE and the Order of Canada for his efforts. Fellow Canadian Alfred J. Gross also developed two-way radios based on Hings’ work, leading to the CB radio, the pager, and the garage door opener.

#4: Microwave Oven (1945)
World War II

First developed and marketed as the Radarange by American Percy Spencer in 1946, the cooking power of the microwave had been discovered by Spencer late in the war. Working as a radar engineer for the U.S. Department of Defense, the inventor made the discovery accidentally when he noticed his equipment had melted a chocolate bar. After confirming his theory by making popcorn and cooking an egg, Spencer set out to create what we now know as the microwave oven by harnessing the cooking power of the magnetron, and began selling the device commercially in 1947.

#3: GPS (1978)
Gulf War

While the device we blindly follow to our destinations came years later, the actual technology behind GPS has been used for military purposes for decades. The concept of a global positioning system called Navstar was advanced by the DoD in 1973, as earlier methods were vulnerable to attack. By the late-‘80s, U.S. President Ronald Reagan ordered the tech available to citizens, and today GPS is a standard feature of most smart phones. On the battlefield, meanwhile, GPS have systems played a key role since the first Gulf War, which was the first conflict where the tech was widely implemented.

#2: The Internet (1962)
Cold War

Nope, it wasn’t Al Gore. In one form or another, the Internet has been in use since the 1960s, and is sometimes called “a child of the Cold war.” Developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to connect distant governmental computer systems, the basic technology was eventually shared with American colleges. The digital domain then expanded in the early-1980s, although it was largely limited to commercial and academic circles. The internet as we know it finally exploded into everyday life in 1995 when it was commercialized in the U.S., and without this innovation you wouldn’t be watching this video.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Duct Tape (1942)

World War II

- Safety Razors (1903)

World War I

- Soya Sausages (1916)

World War I

- Nylons (1939)

World War II

- Digital Photography (1960s)

Cold War


#1: Penicillin (1928)
World War II

Although the effect of certain molds on bacteria had previously been observed, it wasn’t until Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming accidentally and serendipitously discovered that penicillium fungus had antibacterial properties that the benefits were fully understood. The term “antibiotic” came about in 1942, and penicillin was promptly categorized in this group as it cured pneumonia, meningitis, scarlet fever, gonorrhea and much more. Today, this group of drugs treats many bacterial infections that were once considered fatal, and when it was put to use during WWII it cut the number of deaths from infection by 12-15% from WWI.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite wartime invention? For more ingenious Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
Comments

Sign in to access this feature

Related Blogs