On a cold night back in 1905, 11-year-old Frank Epperson of San Francisco left his fruit-flavored drink outside on the porch with a stirring stick in it. The drink froze to the stick and tasted good. Frank initially named it the “Epsicle.”

At first, there wasn’t much interest in the Epsicle. By the time Frank finally applied for a patent for his “frozen ice on a stick” and put it on the market 18 years later, he had a wife and kids of his own.

One of the kids convinced him to rename the Epsickle the Popsicle. Two years later, in 1925, Frank sold his Popsicle rights to the Joe Lowe Co. of New York. Good Humor now owns the rights to the Popsicle.

Philo Farnsworth of Rigby, Idaho, invented a product in 1920 that he rarely used, but we use it every day.

In fact, he even discouraged his kids from using it because he didn’t think the product did much good. Philo was born in a log cabin in 1906, he rode his horse to school every day, and his grandfather settled with Brigham Young.

But wait, there’s more!

His product was so revolutionary, so far ahead of his time, that when he drew it on the chalkboard for his high-school chemistry teacher to see, the product was too complex for the chemistry teacher to understand.

Yet it was the simple design of his family’s potato fields that provided him with his “Eureka” moment. Philo saw how the rows of potatoes formed horizontal lines – the same kinds of horizontal lines which television sets use.

How old was Philo Farnsworth when he figured out how this new product called television should work?

Only 14 years old! He became the father of television, winning a lengthy court battle against RCA to establish that he was the real inventor. His wife, Elma, became known as the mother of television because she was the first woman to appear on TV, in 1927.

Our third and final inventor was Chester Greenwood, who was just 15 years old when he put Framington, Maine, on the map in 1873. Local residents still celebrate his birthday every year with a parade. What did Chester invent?

While ice skating outdoors one winter day, he was trying to protect his ears from the cold weather. He wrapped his head in a scarf, but that wasn’t enough, so he asked his grandmother to sew fur onto a pair of connected ear-shaped wire loops. In the process, he invented Greenwood’s Champion Ear Protectors and went on to build his own company to manufacture them.

They now go by the name of Earmuffs, and his hometown is the Earmuff Capital of the World. Chester Greenwood earned more than 100 patents overall, including the steel-tooth rake.

In next week’s story, we will take a look at three more well-known inventions invented by teenagers.

© 2009 Paul Niemann. This story is part of the Invention Mysteries series by Author Paul Niemann. For more information, visit www.InventionMysteries.com

 


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