The world as we know it would not be the same if it weren't for the numerous inventions born in Utah over the years. There are also some inventions that might exactly be world-changing, but are still pretty brilliant all the same.
From the traffic light to a special pillow for side-sleepers, here are 13 inventions, big and small, with roots in Utah.
Philo T. Farnsworth was born near Beaver in 1906. He was a television pioneer and created the first video camera tube and the first complete all-electronic television system. He died in 1971, long before he could see flat screen televisions and watch a 4K movie.
After experiencing a particularly horrible diaper blowout at church with her youngest child, Orem mom Kilee Haggard thought there had to be a better way. So as soon as her family came home from church that day, she sat down to work. Using a cloth diaper pattern, she altered it into something she thought would better contain a blowout. And so, the Baby Bummy was born.
The Baby Bummy looks like a normal diaper, but it’s meant to fit over a regular diaper and has the addition of “baby bumpers,” which Haggard is patenting. Haggard explained the bumpers are a better quality elastic that creates a better seal, and there’s also a strong, durable Velcro to keep it in place. The Baby Bummy comes in two sizes, designed to grow with the baby, and is washable.
Frank Joseph Zamboni, Jr. was born in Eureka, Utah in 1901. He had an ice block business in the 1920s before opening an ice skating rink. In 1949, he invented a machine that made ice resurfacing a much more efficient job. The ice resurfacer, widely known now as a Zamboni, is now an integral part of ice rinks worldwide.
Side sleepers, rejoice: The days of waking up with a crick in your neck are over. At least, that’s the intent behind side sleeper Pleasant Grove resident Jay Davis’ invention, the Pillow Cube.
›The Pillow Cube is a 12x12 square that’s either 5 or 7 inches wide, depending on personal sleeping preference. It’s made of high-rebound foam which is antimicrobial and hypoallergenic, according to the Kickstarter site, and features a “silky smooth stretchy cover.”
Nolan Bushnell has been making kids happy since the 1970s, when he created the game Pong. Bushnell, who was born in Clearfield, also founded Atari and started the Chuck E. Cheese's pizza chain. Thanks to Bushnell, your kids can eat pizza and play video games to their hearts' content.
Menstrual cramp belt
A trio of female BYU students — Zoia Ali, Taimi Kennerley and Abby Warner — won the International Business Model Competition earlier this year with their product for women: a belt designed to ease menstrual cramps.
One solution they knew was common for easing menstrual cramping was heat. But, one of the inventors said, when women are using heat to ease cramps, they’re typically stuck with a heating pad that has to be plugged in or heated up, something bulky and difficult to transport.
“The Belt” features a thin spandex belt and oxygen-activated warmers that can slide into pockets in the front and back of the belt, easily fitting under most clothing. The new warmers can last up to 12 hours, based on some tests.
The next time you're stuck at a traffic light, you can thank Lester Wire, a Salt Lake City policeman. He is credited with inventing the first electric traffic light using green and red lights in 1912.
For Riverton gardener Wilson Svedin, his dream tool for maintaining his edges, he decided, would include a vertical blade to trim the edge, a horizontal blade to cut out encroaching roots, and a curved part to groom the soil back into the flower bed.
Svedin took his idea and the rough draft of a design to the foreman of the machine shop at his place of work — Svedin himself has no experience welding or creating tools. Svedin said there were several prototypes, but eventually, the foreman was able to craft Svedin’s dream tool: the Kwik Edge.
Hervey Fletcher was born in Provo in 1884 and later graduated from Brigham Young University. His numerous scientific contributions include the invention of an early electronic hearing aid.
Bryan Mark Taylor, of Alpine, addressed a unique issue for plein air artists — those who paint outdoors, capturing a landscape in its natural light: their wood easels would often fall apart while traveling. This style spurred his invention of the Strada Easel.
The compact metal Strada Easel is the result of both his pain point and channeling a famous inventor. The Strada attaches to standard camera tripods, and has a built-in palette. As Taylor likes to say, it is “almost bulletproof,” and can fall and take a hit, or be thrown around during travel, and still work.
The inventor of the odometer wasn't technically a Utahn, at least not yet. William Clayton, a Mormon pioneer, is credited with the invention of a version of the modern odometer. Clayton, with the help of Orson Pratt, developed the "Roadometer" as a way to track the miles traveled by pioneers on their way to settle Utah from Missouri.
It's no secret that the 1911 is a Utah original. John Moses Browning was born in Ogden in 1855 and made his first gun at age 13. He got his first gun patent when he was 24 and was influential in many aspects of modern gun design. One of his most successful guns is the M1911 pistol, which was the standard-issue firearm for the armed forces from 1911 to 1986.
Knock 'Em lawn game
When Jeston Jacobson was 11 years old, he was entertaining himself by playing with dice. He would build the dice into little towers, then use other dice to knock them over. He enjoyed it so much he came up with actual rules, and shared it with his dad and some other family members and friends, who also enjoyed it.
The game consists of 17 “towers” that are set up in the shape of a cross, with one tower in the middle , with the other 16 towers in lines of four surrounding it. Each line of towers is a different color, and players have a soft ball in a corresponding color which they use to try and knock down other players’ towers.