Before there were the cars that we know of today, people relied on many modes of transport. We have always looked for a better, faster, and flashier way to get from here to there. Transportation has evolved from the days of the horse-drawn cart to the 1800’s when the horseless carriage was introduced. Drivers wore goggles to protect their eyes from dust, insects, rocks, and wind. This is because the windshield was not invented yet.
Windshield and Blades
The windshield made an appearance later in the form of a plate of glass. The first United States patent for a windshield wiper was given to Mary Anderson (born 1866- died 1953) in November 1905. Anderson was a real estate developer, rancher, and the inventor.
Carrying us into the 21st century, heated windshield wiper blades are the latest improvement on the invention. Since 1986, heated windshield wiper blades have improved driver safety. They melt the snow and ice while the vehicle is moving to ensure a clear line of sight. The modern combination of safety glass, shatter-resistant windshields, seat belts, and heated windshield wiper blades protect the driver and passengers within.
The history of windshields and wiper blades show man’s ingenuity. The first ones came in many different shapes and forms that we would find laughable today. In 1903, Edouard Benedictus discovered how to make glass shatter-resistant. From there windshields and the wipers that keep them clean produced a multi-billion dollar industry. The history of these important breakthroughs is:
1904: Windshields were first made in two parts, in which the driver folded the lower half down when it became dirty. Once he was at a place to clean it, the lower half was raised again.
1905: Mary Anderson issued a patent for the handheld windshield wiper called a window cleaning device. They were carried by the driver who would go out to clean the window when needed.
1910: Windshields became an option on Ford model automobiles.
1913: Handheld wiper blade use became more widespread.
1915: Windshields became standard on Oldsmobile automobiles.
1916: Wiper blades became part of the automobile. The driver used a crank that turned it manually.
1917: Ahhhh! Automatic wipers became electronically-operated.
1919: Laminated safety glass is invented and Ford uses them in their automobiles.
1923: Urethane glue is invented to seal the windshield to the vehicle.
1930: The V-split windshields that swing outward make an appearance on Cadillac automobiles.
1934: Aero-dynamic industry introduces curved windshields.
1937: Safety glass became mandatory.
1938: UV-ray light protection and improved glass strength are possible with the discovery of Polyvinyl Butyral.
1947: Buicks, Oldsmobile’s, and Cadillacs introduce compound-curved windshields.
1964: The intermittent wiper blade system is patented by Robert Kearns.
1966: Impact resistant windshields come to the marketplace, which is three times stronger.
1986: Heated windshield wiper blades are launched.
The years of progress and equipment improvements have made driving safer. They have led to more inventions and a better way of life. As problems and new situations arise, so too do answers. We take those feelings of frustration and annoyance and channel them to create innovative solutions. In each person lives the spirit to never give up!