Who Invented Electric Blankets

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When it gets cold outside, what do you do to stay warm? For many people, the answer is to cover themselves in a blanket. The body heat that is generated is reflected back by the blanket and this creates warmth. That takes time, however, and sometimes it is so cold that you just can’t bear to wait warming up! That’s where the invention of the electric blanket comes into play. You just turn on the blanket and it warms up like a heating pad.

The first electric blanket was invented by Sidney Russell, who was a physician, in 1912. This first blanket didn’t actually go over the body, however, because it was designed to be placed under the mattress and then heat it up from below. The first traditional blankets seem to have appeared in 1930 and were developed by George Crowley.

Crowley was a born inventor. When he was 6, he wired the entire third floor of his home so that he could be alerted to his parent’s approach. He even created a dining room door that would open automatically and when the lights would be turned on, the curtains would automatically draw closed. Here are some of Crowley’s other inventions.

1. The Squirrel Stopper

Squirrels always love a good bird feeder, but that isn’t a view that is necessarily viewed by home owners. Crowley invented a repelling device that would keep squirrels away from the bird feed, but he ended up abandoning the invention altogether because he felt bad about what he was doing to the squirrels. You see, the Squirrel Stopper worked by delivering a 1 volt shock to the animal.

2. Golf Ball Painting

How do you get the paint on a golf ball nice and even? You’ve got to be able to suspend it in some way so that the paint can be applied evenly. Crowley and one of his partners developed a method of suspending a golf ball in the air with a blower so that it could be painted and then dried. This allowed the manufacturers of golf balls to be able to increase production because the aesthetic applications could be made faster and cheaper.

3. Safety Circuits

One of the most difficult components of an electric blanket for many years was the actual heating mechanism. If someone fell asleep, it was very possible for the blanket to overheat and this could cause burns or even a catastrophic fire. While working for GE, Crowley made several patented improvements that would help to increase the safety of these blankets and he was working on an automatic shut-off switch when he passed away.

Crowley was often asked why he never tried to invent things on his own because his employers owned almost all of the patents for his inventions. Crowley would often just smile and shrug. “I got paid by my employers,” he would say in some form and that was good enough for him.

Winter Safety and Heating Electricity
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