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3 Women Who Invented the Modern Office


Although you probably don’t think about it very often, your workplace is a monument to technology and invention. Without creative thinkers to connect the dots and imagine a more comfortable, productive future, we wouldn’t have chairs to sit in or lights to toil under.

grace hopper 

(Photo Credit: miss karen/Flickr)

A recent post on Mental Floss reminded us that many of these pioneers were women. These are just a few of the things female inventors created, which have made your office what it is today:

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1. Computers

In 1944, together with Howard Aiken, Grace Hopper created Harvard’s Mark I computer, a room-sized conglomeration of 765,000 components and hundreds of miles of wire. Although Aiken initially claimed to be the sole inventor of the Mark I, Hopper is now generally credited as well. She also coined the term “bug,” when a moth caused a hardware fault in the Mark I. Since Hopper was the person to remove it, she is the first person to de-bug a computer.

2. Wi-Fi and Cellphones

Actress Hedy Lamarr was touted at “the most beautiful girl in the world.” She also invented some of the technology that would lay the foundation for Wi-Fi and mobile phones. Her frequency hopping communications system was supposed to enable secret communication during World War II. Although not used in a military capacity until the 1960s, her inventions are the basis for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and CDMA.

3. Liquid Paper

Bette Nesmith Graham patented Liquid Paper in 1958, after experimenting with using white paint to cover her typing mistakes. These days, we’re more likely to use the delete key to undo errors, but most offices still have some Liquid Paper kicking around somewhere — just in case that rare hard-copy document needs a touch-up.

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Which other female inventors belong on this list? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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