Inventors and Patents From the City of Springfield
Inventors and patents from Springfield have influenced products and services throughout the world. Some of the many successful companies based here include Mid-America Dairymen Inc., Dairy Farmers of America, Bass Pro Shops, Tracker Marine, and more. Other local companies have invented frozen yogurt mixes and other food items, such as drive-in windows and hot oil fryers. And for the outdoorsman, Springfield’s residents have waxed creative on everything from fishing rod holders to pontoon boats.
Thomas Alva Edison
Edison held more than one thousand patents during his lifetime. He started his career in the telegraph industry in 1863 and continued to make inventions and improvements to the way we live and work. His most famous inventions were the phonograph and the incandescent light bulb. He also helped modernize the way electricity is used and made it more accessible to the home. His work also influenced generations of inventors.
Edison’s inventions revolutionized the way we live. For instance, electric lights made it possible for people to continue working during the night. This allowed people to read, work, and even listen to music. In addition, factories began to use electricity, allowing them to run twenty-four hours a day. Earlier, they could only stay open for eight hours at a time.
Edison also invented the carbon transmitter, which significantly improved the telephone. Other innovations he made included quadruplex telegraphy. Edison is considered the most influential inventor of the twentieth century. Throughout his life, he received numerous awards and honors. He was also the first honorary member of the Acoustical Society of America.
In addition to his numerous inventions, Edison also managed a number of companies, employing over ten thousand workers. He also created many patents and prototyped and commercialized a wide variety of products. His first major financial success was the quadruplex telegraph.
Thomas Edison also expanded his direct current power delivery system. This system was faced with stiff competition from alternating current (AC) systems. Meanwhile, AC arc lighting systems had been on the rise in the US by the early 1880s. With the help of transformers, the AC could be transmitted over long distances and reduced in voltage at its destination. It was also used in street lamps and lighting for small businesses.
Sarah E. Goode
Mary Dixon is a Morning News Anchor at 93XRT in Springfield. Born and raised in Dixon, Illinois, she received her education at Northern Illinois University, and earned an MA in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois – Springfield. She patented a machine to remove water from clothes. She was a former slave and became a successful entrepreneur.
Inventors and patents from the City of Springfield honor the accomplishments of Springfield residents. A black woman, Sarah E. Goode, was one of the first African Americans to receive a patent. Goode’s most notable invention, however, was a folding cabinet bed. This furniture piece doubled as a desk, and included drawers for writing and stationery supplies. She received her patent for the product on July 14, 1885. Goode died in 1905.
Goode received more than 60 patents in her lifetime. Before 1809, she became the first African-American to receive a patent for an invention. Before that, women were unable to own property, so she worked in dry-cleaning businesses and became a tailor. Nevertheless, she later went on to receive numerous patents, including for dishwashers and better life rafts.
Norbert Rillieux, an engineer and Black inventor, was born in New Orleans. He was the son of a white engineer and a freed slave. He studied applied mechanics in Paris before returning to New Orleans. However, his status as a free black in the South was deteriorating and he returned to Paris. He remained in Paris until his death. His invention, the multiple-effect evaporator under vacuum, was named a patent by the American Chemical Society.
Rillieux’s inventions revolutionized the sugar industry, including the process of making sugar from beets. He developed a system that was more energy efficient than existing sugar factories in France. However, two engineers patented a different system that utilized steam at the wrong places and made the production of sugar more difficult and wasteful. As a result, he lost the rights to his patent.
In 1854, Rillieux fled Louisiana to Paris, where he studied engineering. He also began deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs, a popular pursuit among Parisian intellectuals. Rillieux died in Paris in 1894 and was buried at the Pere Lachaise Cemetery. His wife, Emily Cuckow, survived him and lived comfortable for another eighteen years.
In 1851, New Orleans was plagued by a yellow fever epidemic. To combat this, Rillieux presented a plan to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds and prevent the spread of the disease. The plan addressed problems in the city’s sewer system and the drying swamps, but was ultimately blocked by Edmund Forstall, a member of the state legislature. However, the same plan was implemented several years later in New Orleans, and yellow fever was eradicated.
Rillieux’s patented irrigation system was initially used by Theodore Packwood’s Myrtle Grove plantation and Bellechasse plantation. He later worked with Judah P. Benjamin, another New Orleans native, to perfect the system. Rillieux and Benjamin soon became close friends. Although the two men were considered outsiders in Louisiana society, their inventions made them good friends.
The paper clip is a simple, elegant loop within a springy steel wire. In 1899, William Middlebrook received a patent for this machinery and sold it to American office supply manufacturer Cushman & Denison, who trademarked it in 1904. Middlebrook’s patent drawing is an elegant illustration of a new solution to a classic problem. Middlebrook’s invention incorporated new materials and manufacturing methods.
William Middlebrook is an American citizen, residing in Waterbury, Connecticut. His patent describes improvements to machines for manufacturing wire paper clips. The wire clips are used to secure papers, instead of pins. The invention also outlines improvements to machines for manufacturing them automatically.
Nikolai Opfer’s company has been accused of copying the work of local inventors and patent holders. He says he did not know the inventors, but they were named by the News-Leader. Two of the inventors have complained to Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.
Ruckel has 50 slides but only 43 were allowed to be shown in the court. His slides were edited to keep them confidential. This was done as part of the mediation process, ordered by the court. Ruckel also alleges two Springfield-based businesses were involved.
Ruckel’s company alleges that Opfer Communications and Rutledge & Bapst, Inc. entered into a three-party agreement in June 2017. The three parties agreed to share profits equally and to prepare an infomercial script.