Benjamin Franklin, popularly quoted as “the first American” was so many things we wouldn’t expect from a single person, frankly. He was not just the founding member of the United States of America but was also a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, diplomat and above all the man who helped sow the seeds for the American Revolution. One of his famous quotes is “Without continual growth and progress, words like improvement, achievement and success mean nothing” and that is what he did all his life. In his day, Benjamin Franklin was Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, Mark Zuckerberg, and Henry Ford, all rolled into one. Now you can surely see what I was talking about, can’t you?
So today of all the things he did in his lifetime we are going to look at his works of invention which changed the way people all around the world live. He was one of the most practical inventors in history. He built many devices that were designed to help improve or solve everyday problems. Of the numerous inventions Franklin created, he did not patent a single one. He believed that “As we benefit from the inventions of others, we should be glad to share our own, freely and gladly.” So this post shares with you top ten of his works that are still with us today, 3 centuries later
Though Franklin was a tall man, he had always seen the problem that people couldn’t get to the upper shelves to fetch books and that was enough for our genius to start thinking about the solution. So, in 1786, the ever resourceful Franklin solved the problem by inventing the “long arm,” which is simply a wooden pole with a grasping claw at the end. Simple, clever, effective. Although they’re rarely seen in libraries, versions of the long arm remain popular among anybody needing a bit of extra reaching power.
Dwarfs (adults who are less than four feet tall) will sometimes carry reaching arms to grasp door handles and counter tops. Highway cleanup crews carry stainless steel arms to pick up litter on the side of the highway, people suffering from severe arthritis will use reaching devices to take the strain off their joints and the nations lazy use the device to grab a beer without getting up. The last one sounds like us, doesn’t it? 😀
Seriously, who wouldn’t love to recline of a soft chair and read their favorite book ? I would! Franklin was an avid reader and wanted to make things more comfortable for readers, he made modifications to improve and extend his library chair so that it could serve multiple purposes. His design allowed the chair to turn on its center, making it convenient for a person who may want to turn to his library-shelf, as it can be done without leaving the seat.
In one model Franklin attached a fan that was operated by a foot pedal and created an extendable seat that allowed the chair to function as a seat and as a small step ladder or stepping stool when the seat was raised. That’s one comfortable invention.
A popular entertainment artist Edmund Delaval in England in the early 18th century was playing music on upright wine glasses, with tones made by rubbing one’s fingers around the lip of glasses filled with different quantities of fluid. Once Franklin was in the audience too and he found that the process was time consuming and needed improvements. Franklin wracked his brain to figure out he could create music from glass without needing to empty out his kitchen cupboards.
Two years of experimentation later, Franklin debuted his glass armonica, a collection of different-sized glass bowls arranged on a rotating shaft. By spinning the shaft with a foot pedal and running wetted fingers over the rotating bowls, Franklin found he could coax out chords and melodies that Delaval could only dream of. And just to let you know, Benjamin himself was a musician too.