Automotive History Spotlight: Mary Anderson

mary-anderson-inventor-windshield-wipersWomen and cars have a long relationship. In fact, many of the laws that govern the roadways; the components of the world’s infrastructure and actual functioning elements of vehicles owe themselves to female inventors. We at Buying Cars Her Way would like to shed light on these automotive pioneers. One such pioneer was Mary Anderson, who was responsible for inventing the windshield wiper.

The story goes that one winter day, miserably wet and cold, Anderson was a passenger on a streetcar headed to New York City. She observed that the driver was having difficulty seeing through the windshield and laughed when she realized that the only solution was for the driver to hang his or her head out the window to see. She knew right away that not only was this incredibly dangerous, but also it had to be extraordinarily uncomfortable for the driver.

Then the idea hit her: a window cleaning device. The blades from the device would be used to get rid of snow, ice, and sleet from the windshield. She went straight to work and developed a wiper device that was operated by a lever inside the car. When the driver pulled on the lever, the wiper would wipe away anything blocking the driver’s sight.

Unfortunately for Anderson, her idea never made her rich. It was even scorned at first. But time has proven just how brilliant Mary Anderson truly was. So from now on, whenever you flick on your wipers in the rain, smile and know that it’s all because Mary Anderson didn’t want you sticking your head out of a moving vehicle. How thoughtful of her.

And Happy Birthday, Mary! She would have been 147 this month!  😀

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