Some Oklahomans Turn Their Creative Ideas Into Successful Inventions
By Craig Day, The News On 6
UNDATED -- Have you seen a new product and thought "I wish I'd thought of that!" Or maybe you have an idea for an invention, and someone beats you to it?
Whether it's in oil and gas, agriculture, or aeronautics, Oklahoma ingenuity has made its mark.
For the most widely used Oklahoma invention, look no further than your grocery store.
The first shopping cart was developed by Oklahoma grocery store owner Sylvan Goldman in 1937. At first, no one wanted or even knew how to use them.
"There was a girl by the door who would say here's your shopping cart, and they would look at that and they would say I don't need that and would walk away," Michael Dean, Oklahoma History Center, said.
Goldman hired fake shoppers to use the carts, until the idea caught on, and the rest is history.
Speaking of history, during his history making aviation career, Wiley Post had a hand in creating the early day flight suit, the precursor to ones later worn by astronauts.
Another Oklahoma invention took off, by slowing people down. In 1950, Oklahoma Highway patrolman Clinton Riggs created the yield sign.
And Arthur Jones, a guy who grew up in Seminole developed nautilus equipment.
But many folks weren't too excited about one Oklahoma invention.
Carl Magee of Oklahoma City got the patent for the coin controlled parking meter in 1935.
"There were so many oil companies headquartered in downtown Oklahoma City that their employees were taking up all the parking spaces where people would normally park who were coming downtown to shop," Dean said. "The retail merchants were up in arms over that."
The solution was to charge people to park and the parking meter was born.
Some of the Oklahoma inventions are part of an exhibit at the Oklahoma History Museum.
That same kind of creativity and ingenuity that led to things like the parking meter and shopping cart is still going strong in Oklahoma.
Who hasn't done the "try to stay dry dance" when moving a water sprinkler? The Foot Faucet made by John Stuart of Enid, solves the wet and sometimes whimsical dilemma.
"It was a mad dash to run out there, right?" John Stuart, Inventor, said. "And every time I did it I got wet. Every single time!"
It has four settings. One squeezes the hose shut, so you can move the sprinkler and stay dry. Stuart has a prototype made and hopes to hook up with a manufacturer and distributor.
Rose Hardwick came up with her invention to block beauty shop hair dryer heat from her face, ears and neck.
At 150 degrees who could blame her.
"I designed it, basically for my own comfort and I found out there are millions of hair dryers all over the world with no solution," Hardwick said.
She now sells them mostly at hair shows and on the internet.
"It's an excellent product," Myechia Love, a stylist, said.
"You can relax with Urulax," Hardwick said.
You can also relax knowing an Owasso man's invention has you covered.
Jim Quintus invented the Garage Door Butler. The device shuts your garage door if you forget to do it. Quintus forgot and that prompted the idea.
"Come to find out, everyone has done it at one time or another," Quintus said.
And at one time or another, we've all had an idea for an invention. That's where the Oklahoma Inventors Congress can help. The group's members network, brainstorm and get feedback from each other.
"The talent, the creativity, the ingenuity, the bootstrapping, do it yourself," Dan Hoffman, Oklahoma Inventors Congress, said. "It's just part of an Oklahoman's makeup I think."
Hoffman says if your idea solves a problem, meets a need, satisfies a want and you can manufacture and market it affordably, it might just be successful.
But getting a patent is expensive, and it can cost up to $20,000 to get an invention going.
They all say getting a good patent attorney is critical and marketing is the secret.
More Oklahoma inventions not seen in the story
1) Stick Wagon ATV Hay Hauler: http://www.stickwagon.com/
2) Device that keeps dogs from Digging out: www.digdefence.com/index.html
3) Snap'ems clothing for the physically challenged: ias.okstate.edu/Showcase/edwards/edwards.htm
4) The Trooper Trap: Prisoner Seat Belt Alarm: http://www.troopertrap.com/
5) Oklahoma Inventor's Assistance Service: http://ias.okstate.edu/