Mary Anderson Invents Windshield Wipers
Before delving into the history of the heated windshield wipers and heated windshield wiper blades, we should give credit first to Mary Anderson, who invented windshield wipers. While on a trip to New York, she took note how automobile drivers stuck their heads of their cars to see in front of them when it rained. So, in 1903, she patented a swinging arm, hand-lever controlled mechanism with a rubber blade.
Charlotte Bridgewood Invents Automatic Windshield Wipers
Though Ms. Anderson’s invention was revolutionary in its time, the driver had to steer the wheel, shift gears, and also operate the wiper. So, in 1917, Charlotte Bridgwood created engine-powered wipers that utilized rollers.
John Oishei Turns a Negative into a Positive
In 1917, John Oishei got into a motor vehicle accident with a bicyclist because he couldn’t see through his windshield (all survived). He then founded a company that produced a mechanism that allowed the wipers to apply a consistent force against the glass and, thus, cleans it better.
A Champagne Cork Sparks Creativity
In 1953, Robert Kearns, while on his honeymoon, opened up a bottle of champagne and almost blinded his right eye. The incident inspired him to develop the intermittent windshield wiper.
So, Who Invented Heated Windshield Wiper Blades?
While the history regarding windshield wipers is essentially consistent, exactly who invented heated wipers and blades is murky. A June 1990 New York Times article claims that Elliott Meltzer and Albert DiIoia developed car battery-powered windshield wipers with nickel-chromium alloy heating elements that ran through both the holder and blade. They filed their patents in May 1989.
The same article credits William R. Bliss with inventing a windshield wiper blade with a heating element made of carbon fiber. Mr. Bliss filed his in April 1988.
A December 13, 2010, Michigan Business Review article, however, credits Johnnie Jones for inventing heated windshield wipers. Mr. Jones said that it took him years to come up with a way to install a heating element into spring-loaded beam wiper blades that withdrew power after the car was started.
On April 29, 2011, Ideas Uploaded, Ideas, and Invention blog interview, Mr. Jones actually acknowledges Randy Malone for coming up with the initial prototype. Mr. Malone took apart a heating pad, but then didn’t know what else to do and contacted Mr. Jones, who then went on to develop heated windshield wiper blades. Mr. Jones’ filed his patent in April 2007.
Patent research reveals many inventors adding their spins and touches on windshield wipers and windshield wipers through the years in numerous, so who exactly began the process isn’t exactly clear.
The Bottom Line
What is clear is that heated windshield wipers and heated windshield wiper blades are exceedingly useful tools that can help drivers see much clearer in extreme weather conditions.
Heated windshield wipers generally speed defrost time and keep the wipers from freezing to the glass. On average, heated windshield wiper blades clear away light snow and ice in roughly ten minutes even, when temperatures are as low as minus eighteen degrees Fahrenheit / minus twenty-seven degrees Celsius. They usually turn on automatically, so, regardless of the inventor, they’re very useful.