Benjamin Franklin is generally credited with the invention of bifocal glasses. The year is 1784 and Franklin is starting to advance in age. He can’t see as well as he can remember seeing, but there isn’t anything that can be done about it because there aren’t stronger glasses on the market that can help him. Then he has an idea: combining two lenses together so that near and far things can be seen equally. Thus the bifocal glasses were born. For the man that would be the First American, it was just one of his many accomplishments.
Here is a look at some of Franklin’s other inventions that he has been given credit for over his lifetime.
1. An Improved Alphabet
Although the reason why Franklin felt it was necessary to improve the English language are debated, the fact remains that he invented an improved alphabet. He took out 6 letters and added 6 new letters that made phonetic sense to him. The words would be spelled in a way that made them look how they actually sounded. In theory, it would make reading a lot easier if people could adapt to the new alphabet. In practicality, however, it became a failure. Even Franklin abandoned the idea of using the new alphabet.
2. Long Arms
Franklin often spent his days reading books. He believed that knowledge was the pathway that led to peace, so you would spend many hours reading. He had a massive library and that meant there were many books that were stored on high shelves. Rather than spend all of the time necessary to climb a ladder to grab a book, put it away, or find a reference, Franklin attached a grasping arm to a wooden pole so you could dislodge books with two feet on the ground.
3. A Relatively Comfortable Catheter
Having a catheter inserted is never really a pleasant experience. The modern catheter, which is flexible and can adapt more to the human body, was invented by Franklin because he needed a way to help his older brother get rid of his kidney stones. The original catheters were rigid and quite painful when inserted.
4. The Pennsylvania Stove
Franklin didn’t believe in getting patents for his inventions. He believed that the greatest reward wasn’t monetary in nature, but in the ability to share new ideas with others so that even more new ideas could be generated. The Pennsylvania stove was a big improvement on the old drafty chimneys of the colonial days, but it wasn’t a perfect invention. It was immediately improved upon by other inventors, so not many of them were sold, but it was an important step toward whole home heating.
5. Swimming Fins
Franklin loved to swim, but he wasn’t the best of swimmers. When he was young, he invented a set of swimming fins that could be attached to his hands so that he could move through the water more efficiently. Modern swimming fins go on the feet, of course, but Franklin’s invention did inspire many to swim as well and that’s why he is recognized for this simple, yet profound invention.