6 things you probably didn't know were invented by women

6 things you probably didn't know were invented by women

Friday, 20th of May

6 things you probably didn't know were invented by women

Like using your phone? Like a good old game of Monopoly at Christmas? You can thank the women below for that. And if you have similarly big ideas enter our #WhatsYourThing challenge to win £50 and work experience at Tata Consultancy Services.


Elizabeth Magie created The Landlord's Game to spread the economic theory of Georgism—teaching players about the unfairness of land-grabbing and the need for a single land value tax on owners. So far, so fun, right? Magie patented the board game in 1904 and self-published it in 1906. But then 30 years later a man named Charles Darrow revised the board design and message and sold it to Parker Brothers as Monopoly for a fortune. The company bought Magie's patent for the original game for $500 and no royalties. Oh, the irony.

Wireless Transmission Technology

Hedy Lamarr was pretty much superwomen back in the 40 and 50s. Not only was she was a world-famous film star, but in her spare time she helped develop a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes during World War Two. This ‘frequency-hopping secret communication system’ was patented, and helped to lay the foundations for today’s spread-spectrum technology such as Wifi and Bluetooth. Lamarr was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for her innovation. What a hero!


Marie Van Britten Brown didn't wait around for other people to solve Things. Nu-uh. She developed close-circuit television security for her community’s own security because police were notoriously slow to respond to calls for help in her neighbourhood. The technology was patented in 1969, and forms the basis for contemporary CCTV systems used for home security and police work. Boom!

LOADS of telecommunications stuff

Theoretical physicist Dr Shirley Jackson is a history maker. She was the first black women to receive a Ph.D. from MIT (not bad, eh?) and later conducted breakthrough scientific research that enabled others to invent everything from touch telephones to fibre optic broadband. So next time you unlock your phone with a thumb, thank Dr Shirley.

Blissymbol Printer

In the mid 1980s’ s 12-year-old Rachel Zimmerman developed an invention to help people who had difficulty communicating. Yes, that's right: SHE WAS 12. The programme user communicates by pointing various symbols on a page or board through the use of a special touch pad. When the user touches the symbols, ‘Zimmermans Blissymbol printer’ translates them to a written language. This way, the user can record their thoughts or communicate via email. Bringing communication to everyone isn't a bad way to be remembered.

Software programming

Dr Grace Murray Hopper is a legend who lived a truly amazing life. She was a rear admiral in the U.S. navy, but also a computer scientist who invented COBOL, “the first user-friendly business computer software program”. She was also the first person to use to term “bug” to describe a glitch in a computer system, after finding an actual moth causing trouble in her computer. Sailor, inventor, and wordsmith - Dr Grace, we salute you.

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