Famous Women Inventors

Mary Anderson

Inventor of Windshield Wipers

Mary Anderson

Anyone who's ever driven in a rain or snow storm can attest to the dire importance of windshield wipers. What a lot of people don't know is that windshield wipers were invented by a woman. Inventor Mary Anderson received a patent for her car-window cleaning device in 1903.

Anderson's invention came about during a trip to New York City when the Alabama-born inventor noticed that streetcar drivers had to open the windows of their cars when it rained in order to see. As a solution, Anderson invented a swinging arm device with a rubber blade that was operated by the driver from within the vehicle using a lever.

Many people were initially leery of Anderson's windshield wiper invention, thinking it would distract drivers, but by 1916 windshield wipers were standard on most vehicles. It was also a woman inventor who first patented the automatic windshield wiper in 1917 (Charlotte Bridgwood's "Storm Windshield Cleaner").

For more information on inventor Mary Anderson, refer to:

Mary Anderson, Southern Belle
Lemelson-MIT Inventor of the Week: Mary Anderson