5 Things You Probably Didn't Know Were Invented By Women

From pioneering technology to everyone's favourite board game




When it comes to the greatest inventions of all time, history is teaming with references to the ones thought up by men, from Alexander Graham Bell's telephone to Thomas Edison's lightbulb. But in fact, women are responsible for many weird and wonderful inventions; here are a few creations that you may not have known are all down to female brain power...

Computer Algorithms – Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace, whose father was Lord Byron, was always encouraged by her scientist mother to pursue a career in mathematics. Lovelace excelled in the field and in the 1840s worked with Charles Babbage at the University of London on his "analytic engine" (an early version of a computer to you and me.) The mathematician's notes are considered to be the first algorithms intended to be carried out by a machine, making her in essence the first computer programmer ever.

The Fire Escape – Anna Connelly

In 1897, Anna Connelly patented the first design of an outdoor fire escape with a bridge connection between buildings, proving extremely useful in cramped and busy neighbourhoods. A few years later, her model was adopted as mandatory in many building safety codes across the United States.

The Ice Cream Maker – Nancy Johnson

In 1843, Philadelphia-born Johnson created an ice cream making machine made of a pewter cylinder and was given the first U.S patent for a design of this kind. Johnson's invention is still used to this day, even after the emergence of electric ice cream makers.

The Life Raft – Marie Beaseley

With early lifeboat designs proving to be inadequate, in 1880 entrepreneur Beaseley set about to make a new variation that would be "fire-proof, compact, safe, and readily launched." Beaseley's new and improved life rafts could be folded and unfolded for easy use and storage and the design was patented in 1882. Maria went on to patent 15 inventions and made what was then a fortune of $20,000 a year.

Monopoly – Elizabeth Magie

In 1904, Elizabeth Magie invented 'The Landlord's Game', which was a board game-based critique of the injustices of unchecked capitalism. Fast forward 30 years, and the game was 'ripped off' and sold to Parker Brothers who marketed it as Monopoly as we know it. The firm eventually tracked down Magie and paid her $500 for her troubles.