National Inventors’ Day – Celebrating Famous Spring Inventions

February 11th is National Inventors’ Day in the United States, and there have been plenty of noteworthy inventions that require springs to work. We’re going to provide you with a timeline featuring some interesting information on several of our favorite spring inventions and their inventors.

1493 – Leonardo Da Vinci Invents the Spring-Loaded Pistol

Born in 1452, the Italian Renaissance artist and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci conceptualized and created more works of art and futuristic inventions than we can count. One of these inventions was the spring-loaded pistol. This was one of the first pistols that only required one hand to shoot and helped to revolutionize the European art of war.

1936 – George Nissen and Larry Griswold Invent the Trampoline

Both adept gymnasts, George Nissen and Larry Griswold were inspired upon witnessing trapeze artists utilize tight nets as a safety device to catch them if they happened to fall. Using a stretched piece of canvas, grommets, an iron frame and coiled springs, they invented the first modern version of the trampoline. Nissen and Griswold soon realized that this invention could be used for more than gymnastics practice and founded the Griswold-Nissen Trampoline & Tumbling Company in 1942.

Interesting side note: In the 1980s, George Nissen invented the Laptop Exercycle for airplane passengers to get some exercise in on long trips, however it doesn’t seem like that invention caught on.

Kids on trampoline

1939 – Laurens Hammond Invents Spring Reverberators

Laurens Hammond, creator of the Hammond Organ, patented his spring-based mechanical reverberation system for use within his organs. Commonly known as spring reverb, this mechanism uses springs and other wiring to emulate the delay which people experienced when placing long-distance phone calls during the early 20th century. In the 1960s, one of the later versions of this invention was licensed to Fender for use in their guitars.

1943 – Richard James Invents the Slinky

While attempting to create an efficient way to safely transport delicate shipboard instruments from land to boat, naval engineer Richard James accidentally dropped a tension spring he was using. James was mesmerized by the way the spring continued to move after hitting the ground. Once he realized that other people would enjoy watching this phenomenon as much as he did, he got to work using a coil-winding machine to mass produce the now famous toy. His wife Betty deemed it the Slinky and the rest is history.

Buckling Spring Keyboard Key

1971 – Richard Hunter Harris Invents the Buckling Spring

Patented by IBM in 1971, the buckling spring mechanism that Richard Harris initially invented didn’t gain any notoriety. Six years later, IBM patented Harris’ improved version of the buckling spring and began using it within their early keyboards. Although the buckling spring went through many revisions and updates as the years progressed, we probably wouldn’t have modern desktop keyboard without Harris’ groundbreaking inventions.

Honorable Mentions

1500s – Claus the German Clockmaker Invents the first Jack-in-the-Box

1660 – Christiaan Huygens Invents the Balance Spring Used in Watches

1909 – George B. Hansburg Invents the Pogo Stick

This entry was posted in News. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.