Alexander Graham Bell Inventions
February 10, 2012 by staff
Alexander Graham Bell Inventions, Walter Hunt was pacing the floor, worried about how to pay a debt and put food on the family table.
He went to his workshop, picked up an eight-inch-long brass wire and nervously twisted it around his finger when an idea struck.
The idea became Patent No. 6,281, filed in 1849 and titled dress pins, soon to be called safety pins.
It was one of many Hunt inventions, including the sewing machine, knife sharpener, a streetcar alarm bell and a device that helped launch the Winchester repeating rifle and revolving pistol.
Though a prolific inventor, Hunt (1796-1859) toiled in obscurity, selling many of his ideas before they turned into mainstream items.
Still, his invention process continued to the day he died.
In his patent filing for the safety pin, Hunt described the invention of “a pin made of one piece of wire or metal combining a spring, and clasp or catch,” in which the point of the pin is securely retained.
Having the sharp point of the pin protected by the safety clasp was a key advancement.
Inventor of the safety pin, sewing machine and many other devices that became mainstream items.
“Whether in mechanical movements, chemistry, electricity or metallic compositions, he was always at home: and, probably in all, he has tried more experiments than any other inventor,” said the New York Tribune.
He described the “perfect convenience of inserting these pins into the dress” without wounding the finger, or for nursery use.
Indeed, long before the Velcro strap or elastic pull-up pants, the safety pin and diapers were constant companions of tykes.
Though Hunt saw the ability of his safety pins to have an “ornamental design,” he could not have foreseen its use as a fashion statement of punk rockers in the 1970s.
The downside for Hunt is he never made a fortune on the safety pin or his many other inventions.
He sold the invention within days for about $10,000 in today’s currency, so at least he paid off his debt.
Unlike Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, who built industries from their inventions, Hunt sold his off.
And he failed to patent the sewing machine he invented in 1834. Hunt reportedly felt his sewing machine might cause seamstresses to lose their jobs, as the U.S. was in a recession. It was a depressing mistake, as other inventors stole the idea and made fortunes.
“Walter Hunt was a prolific, genius inventor, but his business skills were poor,” Alex Askaroff, a sewing machine historian who blogs at Sewalot.com, told IBD. “If his business skills had matched his inventions, his name would still be remembered. He was one of the rare geniuses of his time.”
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