By the beginning of the 18th century, the American colonies were beginning to mature and people’s lives were becoming more prosperous.  With the taming of the wilderness and the establishment of urban centers, the 18th century saw many inventions that were designed to improve life.  Below is a sampling of inventions lead by the century’s most famous inventor Benjamin Franklyn.

1717 – Swim Fins:  Invented by Benjamin Franklyn.  The first fins were made of wood and were worn on the hands.  Shaped like lily pads, these fins were 10 inches long and six inches wide.

1742 – Franklyn Stove:  Invented by Benjamin Franklyn.  This was an iron stove that provided twice the heat, used a quarter of the wood and produced less smoke than a fireplace, allowing Americans to live more comfortably during long winters.

1764 – Bifocals:  Invented by Benjamin Franklyn.  Tired of constantly having to put on and remove his glasses, Franklyn cut two pairs of glasses in half and put half of each lens in a single frame

1776 – Submarine:  Invented by David Bushnell.  Named the “Turtle,” it submerged by taking water into its tanks and emerged by releasing it.  This one man submarine was propelled by a hand crank propeller.  The Turtle was used in an attempt to attach a mine to General Howe’s flagship “Eagle” but the attempt failed.

1794 – Cotton Gin:  Invented by Eli Whitney.  This machine separates cotton fiber from the seeds revolutionizing the cotton industry and making cotton the major cash crop in the South.

1797 – Interchangeable Parts:  Invented by Eli Whitney.  After receiving a contract to manufacture 10,000 muskets for the U.S. Army, Whitney divides the manufacturing into several steps with standardized parts to make them interchangeable.  Prior to this an entire musket was made by a single person without standardized measurements.

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