Inventions and Discoveries Of the 1920s

Author's Notes: This is an essay paper and should not be regarded as a complete list of inventions and discoveries of the 1920s.

The 1920’s was a time of invention and discovery. Many minor yet important and crucial inventions were being made and discoveries being found including penicillin, traffic lights, bulldozers, and the first liquid-fueled rockets.

Many seemingly insignificant yet useful items came out of the twenties. These included band-aids and Q-tips. Band-Aids were important because they allowed for bandages with built-in adhesive strips so bandages wouldn’t have to be tied off or taped on. Q-tips allowed for cleaning of ears as well as safely applying ointment to injuries. While we’re talking about medical inventions we should bring up the discovery of penicillin. Penicillin was a mold discovered by Alexander Fleming. When tested it was found to kill a large number of harmful bacteria while doing nothing to beneficial bacteria. Fleming had discovered the world’s first antibiotic. Penicillin was later improved to be safer for medical use and saved countless lives during the Second World War. Also the hormone insulin was discovered which aided in the understanding and treating of diabetes.

In the automotive industry, the first car with a combustion engine was invented by Henry Ford. It allowed for cars to be more powerful and more reliable while not being very much more expensive. Ford’s invention revolutionized the automobile industry. William Potts, a Detroit police officer, invented the very first traffic light. Prior to his time an officer had to stand in each intersection to direct traffic so that cars wouldn’t crash into each other all of the time. William Potts created a system of colored lights which would signify what cars were supposed to do. The same three colored system of green, yellow, and red lights that Potts developed is still used around the country today. The first bulldozer was also invented during the twenties. Engineer Benjamin Holt built a caterpillar track propelled tractor that had an incredible strength yet a slow speed. It could be used for plowing snow and pushing large heavy objects.

In the food industry the first bread slicer and packager was invented. This allowed for bread to be sliced evenly and packaged quickly and sanitarily without having to rely on slow working and mistake-making human bread cutters. Kool-Aid was also invented in the twenties.

The first television tube was invented in 1924. It was improved upon throughout the decade and by 1927 the first complete television set with speakers and radio equipment was up and running. Some notable inventions also included the first robot, the lie detector, the first three dimensional movie, the self-winding watch, bubble-gum, the electric shaver, and the car radio. The yoyo became increasingly popular during the twenties as well, and has has led many to falsely believe that it was invented during this time.

Many of the inventions of the 1920’s are ones that we still use today and often take for granted. We can think the engineers, scientists, and doctors of this time period for all the work they did to create inventions that remained popular and useful for almost 90 years.


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