Even before Henry Ford manufactured automobile production, there was a handy dandy little contraption invented that would revolutionize the way we see the world outside of a vehicle.
That invention was the windshield wiper.
Developed in 1903, an inventor named J.H. Apiohn came up the first wiper idea. It was a device that moved two brushes from the top of the windshield to the bottom. Afterward, Mary Anderson invented a hand-operated lever with a spring-loaded rubber-bladed swinging arm outside the windshield to clear it off so the driver was able to see outside his vehicle and drive safely. The only issue with this was that electric motors were not yet used to power automobile accessories. This meant that without another power source, the driver was left to multi-task in a dangerous manner, using one hand to move the lever, one hand to steer the car and yet another was needed to work the gear shift and brake grips.
After the electric starter was developed back in 1912, windshield wipers became the first electrical devices in automobiles. Dr. Ormand Wall, a Hawaiian dentist, created the first automatic windshield wiper. The solution was to use an electric motor in the top centre of the windshield where the wiper arches down to clear off the windshield in a semi-circular motion. As electrical systems progressed, wipers were eventually placed at the base of the windshield. Soon after, windshield washers were added, along with spray nozzles and a tank for washer fluid in the engine compartment.
Thanks to automobile advancement, improvements to technology and overall consumer demand, windshield wipers have come a long way. These days, wipers can detect rain, de-ice windshields, speed up, slow down, and do so much more.
It’s a simple invention that is sometimes overlooked. Take care of your windshield wipers and have them replaced when needed to keep your vision clear from obstructions.