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10 Common Things that were Invented During the War

Updated on April 5, 2018
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Necessity is the mother of all inventions...

War has shaped the kind of life we have now. If not for the necessities brought about by war, there wouldn’t be any reason at all for human life to progress. Peace would simply maintain the status quo. Countries in conflict exerted so much money and effort to make these developments and innovations happen not only for the sake of winning the war but also to lessen the impact that war can fall upon them.

Although it may be quite palpable that most of the technological inventions are mainly for the purpose of destroying the enemies more effectively, there are also other significant non-technical and non-mechanical inventions that proved to be just as important and effectual in improving our lives. If not for war, we wouldn’t have computers right now. If not for wars, navigation systems would have never been as effective and efficient as it is now. There’d be no chance for man to set foot on the moon had it always been a peaceful Earth for all of us.

War gave rise to human innovation and creativity. The greatest technological achievements of man transpired in times of the greatest difficulty...the time of war...

List of 10 things invented during the war

  • Canned goods
  • Standard sizes
  • Telegraph
  • DST
  • Sanitary Napkins
  • Tea bags
  • Tissue
  • Zippers
  • Vegan Sausage
  • Penicillin

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Canned goods

Gail Borden was the first to patent canned milk or condensed milk in 1854 before the Civil war broke out. He then proceeded to sell his condensed milk to the Navy along with cider and coffee. 1862 marked the beginning of the canned goods revolution. Gail Borden discovered that tens of thousands of soldiers took delight in his products including biscuits, condensed coffee, meat and condensed milk. Swift and Armour developed single-serving of canned meat and beans. The soldiers especially loved it for they somehow felt at home and so the demands for canned products grew and soon they included corned beef, blueberries, lobster and ginger cakes on their orders.

Standard Sizes

During the civil war standard sizes for uniforms and shoes were a necessity for mass production for the military. Such practice continued on however even if the Civil war has ended

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Telegraph

Telegraph is the primitive form of e-mail that we now use all the time. Communication is very important to the military for without it, messages and commands will not be channeled not only in the military but also to the press. Samuel Morse invented the email and it even preceded the war. During the 1860s there were already more than 50,000 telegraph miles of wires while additional 50,000 more were added by President Lincoln of the United States and the Union as real time information from his generals were important to the President. The telegraph technology spanned coast to coast by 1861 which removed the Pony Express in the market.

From bottom right: zipper, vegan sausage, wristwatch, tissue, sun lamp and tea bags...
From bottom right: zipper, vegan sausage, wristwatch, tissue, sun lamp and tea bags... | Source

DST (Daylight Saving Time)

The idea on Daylight Saving Time was authored in 1784 by Benjamin Franklin even before the First World War erupted. He wrote to the Journal of Paris with this idea because according to him, humans waste candles in the evenings of summer as they tend to stay up later than the sun and in the morning, they waste the goodness of sunshine as they wake up late to enjoy it. New Zealand also proposed the same idea in 1895 and UK in 1909 but both did not gain results. It was only during the WWI when DST finally started taking shape. Germany was the first to submit a decree that clocks should be moved forward by one hour during summer to allot extra time for daylight in the evening. This was to save coal and light and immediately after all the other countries in the west adapted it. 2 days after the Great War ended, the congress of America officially announced DST and created different time zones.

The first ever kotex ad on sanitary napkins circa 1920
The first ever kotex ad on sanitary napkins circa 1920 | Source

Sanitary Napkins

The use of cellulose material for bondage during the First World War proved that this material is good for absorbing blood and that it can absorb more efficiently than other materials at that time. This led French nurses to use cellulose material for women’s monthly period. British and American nurses adapted the practice and later in 1920, Kimberly-Clark of America marketed the first sanitary napkin. It was initially uncomfortable as it was rough and women find it embarrassing to buy from male shop attendants. It was named Kotex derived from cotton and texture. In 1926 the modern napkin was made popular by Montgomery with smooth surface made from ironed cellulose material.

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Tea Bags

In actuality tea bag was an unintentional creation. It was not created to reduce war problems. The practice was initiated by an American merchant by placing tea leaves inside small bags or packets and dropping the bag into the water to bring out the flavor. These bags were sent to his customers. However, the modern tea bag was first used in the military by a German company teekane while supplying tea to the German troops. The bag used was made of cotton and it was called tea bombs.

Tissue

After the invention of the sanitary napkins for women, Kimberly-Clark realized that selling napkins to women is a little awkward for both the sexes especially for women who find it really embarrassing to buy napkins from men. So, they allowed anonymous purchases where women will just leave their payments in a box. It helped a bit but not significantly and so CA “Bert” Fourness initiated the idea of ironing the material which paved the way to the facial tissue that we have now. This was then called Kleenex

synthetic rubber was also invented during the 2nd World War by the US army as the Germans and their allies control the supply of natural rubber...
synthetic rubber was also invented during the 2nd World War by the US army as the Germans and their allies control the supply of natural rubber... | Source

Zippers

Zippers were first invented by Gideon Sundback a US emigrant with Swedish blood. That time, people were finding all possible ways to combat the cold and when he became the designer for Universal Fastener Company, he created the fastener without a hook. It was first used in the military during the WWI by the US army for uniforms and boots and later zippers have been used in almost everything.

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Vegan sausage

It was created out of necessity by Konrad Adenauer who was the future first chancellor from Germany after WWII. That time Adenauer was the Cologne mayor and he thought of some practical ways to use available materials. Because of war, corn and other staple food supply stopped. He tried to use soy instead of meat in making sausages and it was then called ‘friedenswurt’ or peace sausage. He applied for patent but was denied in Germany but British government gave him the copyright for it.

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Penicillin:

The wonder drug was first discovered by Ernest Duchesne in 1869 when he found out that the mold penicillium notatum can kill bacteria. Sir Alexander Fleming popularized the discovery through his more detailed studies in 1928. But it was only when World War II broke out in 1939 and 1944 that the effectiveness of the wonder drug was tested. Dr. Howard Florey and Andrew Moyer created the most potent antibacterial substance the world has known. Mass production created an estimated 2.3 million doses and was sent to the Allied troops in Europe to alleviate the infection and pain suffered by the wounded soldiers which greatly reduced the casualties to 15 percent.

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