Wiper Blade History: Designs, Inventors, and Patents

Hi! good afternoon, this day i will write an article about Wiper Blade History: Designs, Inventors, and Patents

A windshield wiper usually consists of a lever that rotates at one end and a rubber blade (brush) at the other. The brush blade rocks back and forth, removing water from the glass surface. This device was a great innovation, but Who invented the windshield wiper? Read on and learn the complete windshield wiper history.

Currently Mercedes-Benz has pioneered a monoblade system in which only one windshield wiper follows a certain path in the shape of a “W“, with the brush near the corners of the windshield, repeating all its contours. But the beginnings of the windshield wiper were complex and throughout history this invention evolved.

Who invented the windshield wiper?

windshield wiper history
windshield wiper history

Mary Anderson was the person who invented the windshield wiper with application in automobiles and was the one who patented it. On November 10, 1903, the United States Patent Office granted the patent No. 743801 to inventor Mary Anderson for her invention, which was a window cleaning system for automobiles and other vehicles. This device allowed to clean the windows of snow, ice and water.

Immediately after obtaining the patent, Mary tried to sell her invention to a Canadian company. Unfortunately, however, the manufacturing company refused to purchase the world’s first vehicle wiper system, considering this invention to be of no practical value.

In the earliest days of this device, the wipers were operated manually (by turning the passenger compartment handle) with a cord from the motor. Often powered by a vacuum manifold, but this was an omission – the wipers could slow down or even stop. This problem was overcome to some extent by using combined vacuum and fuel pump amplifiers. Some cars, in the 1960s and 1970s, had hydraulic wipers.

What led to the invention of the windshield wiper?

As the story goes, in 1902, on one of the cold and rainy days, Mary Anderson was riding a streetcar and noticed that the driver could not see anything due to the wet snow, as the windshield of the streetcar was completely covered in snow and Water. At the time, streetcars in the United States were equipped with a double windshield.

The part directly in front of the driver had a special design that allowed the window sash to open like a normal window frame. This was done so that the driver could open the window and clean it of dirt, snow and water. But the main disadvantage of this method of cleaning was that if the driver opened the window, the wind and moisture entered the salon by tram, disturbing the driver and causing inconvenience to all passengers.

History and evolution of the windshield wiper

One of the earliest patents filed for the windshield wiper is from George J. Capewell of Hartford Connecticut, which was filed on August 6, 1896. His invention was for an automated, motorized windshield wiper for cars, locomotives, and other land vehicles.

Other early windshield wiper designs are attributed to the Polish pianist Józef HofmannAlready Mills Munitions, Birminghamwho also claimed to have been the first to patent windscreen wipers in England.

Windshield cleaning devices were patented by at least three inventors around the same time in 1903; Mary Anderson, Robert Douglass y John Apjohn. In April 1911, Sloan & Lloyd Barnes, patent agents in Liverpool, England, registered a patent for Gladstone Adams of Whitley Bay.

American inventor Mary Anderson is popularly credited with inventing the first operating windshield wiper in 1903. In Anderson’s patent, she called her invention a “window cleaning device” for electric cars and other vehicles. His windshield wiper version, actuated by means of a lever from inside a vehicle, closely resembles the windshield wipers on many early model cars.

Anderson had a model of his design made, and then filed a patent (US 743,801) on June 18, 1903 which was issued to him by the United States Patent Office on November 10, 1903.

A similar device is registered 3 months before Anderson’s patent, with Robert A. Douglass filing a patent for a “locomotive cab window cleaner” on March 12, 1903.

Irish inventor James Henry Apjohn (1845-1914) patented a “Apparatus for cleaning cars, automobiles and other windows” which was stated to use brushes or wipers and could be motorized or manual. Windshield wipers or brushes were designed to wipe up and down or in a single direction on a vertical window. Apjohn’s invention had a UK priority date of 9 October 1903.

John R. Oishei (1886-1968) formed the Tri-Continental Corporation in 1917. This company introduced the first wiper blade, Rain Rubber, for the two-piece slotted windshields found on many of the cars of the day. Today, Trico Products is one of the largest wiper blade manufacturers in the world.

Bosch has the world’s largest wiper factory in Tengo, Belgium, producing 350,000 wiper blades a day. The first automatic electric windshield wiper arms were patented in 1917 by Charlotte Bridgwood.

Inventor William M. Folberth and his brother Fred applied for a patent for an automatic windshield wiper in 1919, which was granted in 1922. It was the first automatic mechanism developed by an American, but the original invention is attributed by others to Hawaiian Ormand Wall. Trico later settled a patent dispute with Folberth and purchased the company. Folberth’s Clevelandthe Folberth Auto Specialty Co.

The new vacuum-actuated system quickly became standard equipment on automobiles, and the vacuum principle was in use until about 1960. In the late 1950s, a common feature on modern vehicles first appeared, which made that the wipers would work automatically for two or three wipes when the wiper button was pressed, so turning them on manually was also unnecessary.

Today an electronic timer is used, but originally a small vacuum cylinder mechanically connected to a switch provided the delay as the vacuum escaped.

Mary Anderson (Born 1866 - Died 1953)
Mary Anderson (Born 1866 – Died 1953)

intermittent wipers

The inventor of intermittent (non-continuous, now including variable speed) windshield wipers could have been Raymond Anderson, who in 1923 proposed an electromechanical design. (US Patent No. 1,588,399). In 1958, Oishei et al. filed a patent application that described not only electromechanical designs, but also thermal and hydraulic ones. (US Patent No. 2,987,747).

Then, in 1961, John Amos, an engineer at the British automotive engineering firm Lucas Industries, filed the first UK patent application for a solid-state electronic design. (US Patent No. 3,262,042).

Another form of intermittent windshield wipers was invented in 1963 by Robert Kearns, an engineering professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan (US Patent No. 3,351,836 and filed in 1964). Kearns’ design was intended to mimic the function of the human eye, which blinks only once every few seconds. In 1963, Kearns built his first intermittent windshield wiper system using off-the-shelf electronic components..

The interval between windshield passes was determined by the rate of current flow in a capacitor; when the charge on the capacitor reached a certain voltage, the capacitor discharged, activating one cycle of the wiper motor, and then repeating the process.

Kearns showed his windshield wiper design to the Ford Motor Company and proposed that they manufacture the design. Ford executives rejected Kearns’ proposal at the time, but later offered a similar design as an option on the company’s Mercury line, starting with the 1969 models. Kearns sued Ford in a multi-year patent dispute that Kearns ultimately won in court, inspiring the feature film Flash of Genius 2009 based on a 1993 New York article covering the legal battle.

In March 1970, the French car manufacturer Citroën introduced in its SM model some rain-sensitive intermittent windshield wipers, it was even more advanced. When the intermittent function was selected, the windshield wipers made a slide.

If the windshield was relatively dry, the wiper motor would draw a lot of current, causing the control circuit’s timer to be very late for the next wipe. If the motor drew little current, it would indicate that the glass was still wet, and set the timer to minimize the delay.

A windshield wiper usually consists of a lever that rotates at one end and a rubber blade (brush) at the other. The brush blade rocks back and forth, removing water from the glass surface. This device was a great innovation, but Who invented the windshield wiper? Read on and learn the complete windshield wiper history.

Currently Mercedes-Benz has pioneered a monoblade system in which only one windshield wiper follows a certain path in the shape of a “W“, with the brush near the corners of the windshield, repeating all its contours. But the beginnings of the windshield wiper were complex and throughout history this invention evolved.

Who invented the windshield wiper?

windshield wiper history
windshield wiper history

Mary Anderson was the person who invented the windshield wiper with application in automobiles and was the one who patented it. On November 10, 1903, the United States Patent Office granted the patent No. 743801 to inventor Mary Anderson for her invention, which was a window cleaning system for automobiles and other vehicles. This device allowed to clean the windows of snow, ice and water.

Immediately after obtaining the patent, Mary tried to sell her invention to a Canadian company. Unfortunately, however, the manufacturing company refused to purchase the world’s first vehicle wiper system, considering this invention to be of no practical value.

In the earliest days of this device, the wipers were operated manually (by turning the passenger compartment handle) with a cord from the motor. Often powered by a vacuum manifold, but this was an omission – the wipers could slow down or even stop. This problem was overcome to some extent by using combined vacuum and fuel pump amplifiers. Some cars, in the 1960s and 1970s, had hydraulic wipers.

What led to the invention of the windshield wiper?

As the story goes, in 1902, on one of the cold and rainy days, Mary Anderson was riding a streetcar and noticed that the driver could not see anything due to the wet snow, as the windshield of the streetcar was completely covered in snow and Water. At the time, streetcars in the United States were equipped with a double windshield.

The part directly in front of the driver had a special design that allowed the window sash to open like a normal window frame. This was done so that the driver could open the window and clean it of dirt, snow and water. But the main disadvantage of this method of cleaning was that if the driver opened the window, the wind and moisture entered the salon by tram, disturbing the driver and causing inconvenience to all passengers.

History and evolution of the windshield wiper

One of the earliest patents filed for the windshield wiper is from George J. Capewell of Hartford Connecticut, which was filed on August 6, 1896. His invention was for an automated, motorized windshield wiper for cars, locomotives, and other land vehicles.

Other early windshield wiper designs are attributed to the Polish pianist Józef HofmannAlready Mills Munitions, Birminghamwho also claimed to have been the first to patent windscreen wipers in England.

Windshield cleaning devices were patented by at least three inventors around the same time in 1903; Mary Anderson, Robert Douglass y John Apjohn. In April 1911, Sloan & Lloyd Barnes, patent agents in Liverpool, England, registered a patent for Gladstone Adams of Whitley Bay.

American inventor Mary Anderson is popularly credited with inventing the first operating windshield wiper in 1903. In Anderson’s patent, she called her invention a “window cleaning device” for electric cars and other vehicles. His windshield wiper version, actuated by means of a lever from inside a vehicle, closely resembles the windshield wipers on many early model cars.

Anderson had a model of his design made, and then filed a patent (US 743,801) on June 18, 1903 which was issued to him by the United States Patent Office on November 10, 1903.

A similar device is registered 3 months before Anderson’s patent, with Robert A. Douglass filing a patent for a “locomotive cab window cleaner” on March 12, 1903.

Irish inventor James Henry Apjohn (1845-1914) patented a “Apparatus for cleaning cars, automobiles and other windows” which was stated to use brushes or wipers and could be motorized or manual. Windshield wipers or brushes were designed to wipe up and down or in a single direction on a vertical window. Apjohn’s invention had a UK priority date of 9 October 1903.

John R. Oishei (1886-1968) formed the Tri-Continental Corporation in 1917. This company introduced the first wiper blade, Rain Rubber, for the two-piece slotted windshields found on many of the cars of the day. Today, Trico Products is one of the largest wiper blade manufacturers in the world.

Bosch has the world’s largest wiper factory in Tengo, Belgium, producing 350,000 wiper blades a day. The first automatic electric windshield wiper arms were patented in 1917 by Charlotte Bridgwood.

Inventor William M. Folberth and his brother Fred applied for a patent for an automatic windshield wiper in 1919, which was granted in 1922. It was the first automatic mechanism developed by an American, but the original invention is attributed by others to Hawaiian Ormand Wall. Trico later settled a patent dispute with Folberth and purchased the company. Folberth’s Clevelandthe Folberth Auto Specialty Co.

The new vacuum-actuated system quickly became standard equipment on automobiles, and the vacuum principle was in use until about 1960. In the late 1950s, a common feature on modern vehicles first appeared, which made that the wipers would work automatically for two or three wipes when the wiper button was pressed, so turning them on manually was also unnecessary.

Today an electronic timer is used, but originally a small vacuum cylinder mechanically connected to a switch provided the delay as the vacuum escaped.

Mary Anderson (Born 1866 - Died 1953)
Mary Anderson (Born 1866 – Died 1953)

intermittent wipers

The inventor of intermittent (non-continuous, now including variable speed) windshield wipers could have been Raymond Anderson, who in 1923 proposed an electromechanical design. (US Patent No. 1,588,399). In 1958, Oishei et al. filed a patent application that described not only electromechanical designs, but also thermal and hydraulic ones. (US Patent No. 2,987,747).

Then, in 1961, John Amos, an engineer at the British automotive engineering firm Lucas Industries, filed the first UK patent application for a solid-state electronic design. (US Patent No. 3,262,042).

Another form of intermittent windshield wipers was invented in 1963 by Robert Kearns, an engineering professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan (US Patent No. 3,351,836 and filed in 1964). Kearns’ design was intended to mimic the function of the human eye, which blinks only once every few seconds. In 1963, Kearns built his first intermittent windshield wiper system using off-the-shelf electronic components..

The interval between windshield passes was determined by the rate of current flow in a capacitor; when the charge on the capacitor reached a certain voltage, the capacitor discharged, activating one cycle of the wiper motor, and then repeating the process.

Kearns showed his windshield wiper design to the Ford Motor Company and proposed that they manufacture the design. Ford executives rejected Kearns’ proposal at the time, but later offered a similar design as an option on the company’s Mercury line, starting with the 1969 models. Kearns sued Ford in a multi-year patent dispute that Kearns ultimately won in court, inspiring the feature film Flash of Genius 2009 based on a 1993 New York article covering the legal battle.

In March 1970, the French car manufacturer Citroën introduced in its SM model some rain-sensitive intermittent windshield wipers, it was even more advanced. When the intermittent function was selected, the windshield wipers made a slide.

If the windshield was relatively dry, the wiper motor would draw a lot of current, causing the control circuit’s timer to be very late for the next wipe. If the motor drew little current, it would indicate that the glass was still wet, and set the timer to minimize the delay.

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