All of us have products we can’t live without. Whether it’s a household cleaner, kitchen utensil, tool or electronic gadget, there’s at least one item or service you rely on almost daily. It makes you wonder what you ever did without it.
Chances are, you probably don’t know whom to thank for creating such a brilliant, game-changing concept. Well, today is the day. We’re celebrating American originality at its best by featuring our favorite American-made innovations and the people responsible for making them a reality.
If you enjoy watching your choice of TV shows and movies from the comfort of your home or mobile device, chances are you have a subscription to Netflix. Co-founded by American entrepreneur and philanthropist Reed Hastings, Netflix is the world’s leading Internet television network, with more than 62 million users. In any given day, members stream more than 100 million hours of TV shows and movies.
It’s almost impossible to find a home in America that doesn’t have a microwave. Believe it or not, a self-taught engineer named Percy Spencer actually invented the microwave by accident. As the story goes, Spencer was working at a plant one day and was crossing an active radar set when he noticed that the candy bar in his pocket suddenly melted. After more research and many experiments, Spencer produced the first commercial-use microwave in 1947. It weighed 750 pounds and cost $2,000 to $3,000.
When American robotics company iRobot debuted their autonomous vacuum cleaner in 2002, they struck a chord with generations of people who grew up watching the Jetsons' robot maid Rosie on TV. In fact, as of February 2014, over 10 million Roomba home robots have been sold worldwide. These small but mighty machines are more powerful than they look—they use the same navigation algorithm as iRobot's line of military bomb disposal robots.
1973 is said to be the year Dr. Martin Cooper, a former general manager for Motorola, invented the first portable cellphone. The phone weighed 2.5 pounds and only had the ability to talk, listen and dial. Little did Cooper know his invention would one day be one of the most popular, can’t-live-without items in the world.
George Foreman Grill
The George Foreman Grill makes cooking indoors quick, easy and mess-free, helping college students, parents and non-cooks create hot and healthy meals in a snap. The grill wasn’t actually invented by George Foreman. A man from Illinois named Michael Boehm created the grill in 1993 and spent nearly a year trying to find someone to buy into his idea. Since its launch in 1995, more than 100 million George Foreman grills have been sold worldwide.
Where would our lives be without these great American inventors? Here’s to them—and to the person who brings us the next big thing.
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