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Besides his lightning rod he invented: the bifocals, an odometer, a stove, a musical instrument, a robot arm and a catheter. He also coined many electrical terms and found time to map the gulf stream. He used his observational skill to solve life’s problems but never took out a patent. He believed that: “as we benefit from the inventions of others, we should be glad to share our own, freely and gladly.” When he heard of patents taken out by others for his inventions he never contested it: “having no Desire of profiting by Patents myself, and hating Disputes.”
#1 Bifocal Spectacles
#1 Bifocal Spectacles
Franklin was fed up constantly having to take his glasses on and off to read. He cut two pairs of spectacles in half and placed the half lenses into one frame. In 1784 he reflected that his ‘double spectacles’ (bifocals) had been a total success as he could see both near and far as well as anyone.
#2 Urinary Catheter
To help sufferers of kidney stones Ben invented a flexible urinary catheter which is a lot kinder to the recipient. It is considered to possibly be the first of its kind in America.
As a postmaster, Ben needed to know the quickest routes to deliver the mail. This required a method to track different routes, so he invented an odometer which he attached to his carriage wheel. By counting the rotations he was able to calculate how far the carriage travelled.
#4 Franklin Stove
Noting that wood fires were dangerous and used a lot of fuel, Ben thought he could do better. Indeed he could. His iron-lined furnace stove used less fuel, produced more heat and less smoke.
#5 Mapped the Gulf stream
Ben regularly made long Atlantic crossings and noticed that journeys east were far quicker than the return. This led him to map the Gulf Stream current from the Gulf of Mexico, along the eastern coast past Newfoundland and across the Atlantic.
#6 Glass Armonica
Even at leisure he was also looking to improve things. In this instrument musical glasses were placed in a wooden box and the player could play one at a time. Franklin made an upgrade by setting bowls ground to different octaves on their side. Fixed with a rod they were rotated by a food treadle letting the whole area produce new notes.
#7 The Language of Electricity
As well as inventing new, more effective lightning rod, Franklin’s electrical experiments made him see that there were a lack of existing terms. So, he coined new ones, many of which we still use today such as: ‘battery’, ‘condenser’ and ‘charge.’
#8 Robotic Arm Extender
Finding it hard to reach books on upper shelves, he created an extension arm with two fingers attached to a pipe, which were opened and closed to grab by a cord