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Exciting innovations were happening at the beginning of the 20th century. Here are a few of the amazing inventors launching us into the modern age.


Nikola Tesla


You’ve heard of Tesla. Today it’s a company that makes cars and other electric projects. But did you know it was named after a real man?

Nicola Tesla was like a real-life Tom Swift. Like Tom, Mr. Tesla experimented in all kinds of things that were way before their time. Some were failures and haven’t been proven yet. Others were practical. While Thomas Edison was working with DC, direct current electricity, Mr. Tesla worked with AC, alternating current. He built the first AC powered motor, and it was AC that eventually proved the safest and most reliable current to power houses. DC is used in cars today. Mr. Tesla also invented a remote-controlled boat, and he experimented in X Rays, and wireless power.

It's no wonder boys of the early twentieth century like Dutty were big fans of Mr. Tesla. So, apparently is Elon Musk.

Tiny Broadwick


In Dutty, The Un-Invisible Boy, Dutty’s friend Matty Crawford talks about one of her heroes, Tiny Broadwick. Tiny was famous for being the first person to free-fall out of an airplane and use a rip cord.

Tiny was just 15 years old when she jumped from a hot-air balloon at the 1908 North Carolina State Fair. Later, during World War I, she was asked to demonstrate jumping from a military airplane. After three successful jumps, her fourth didn’t go so well. Her parachute’s line caught on the airplane’s tail and the strong winds prevented her from getting back into the airplane. But Tiny didn’t panic. She had the idea to cut the line to a shorter length and free fall toward the ground, pulling the line by hand to open the parachute.


This was, accidentally, the first free-fall descent, and the first demonstration of what was later called the “rip cord.” She had proven that a pilot could return to the ground safely by bailing out of an airplane.


George Washington


Carver created over 518 new products as a result of experiments he began conducting in 1896, including one of our favorites, peanut butter! He was an agricultural chemist whose work with crops brought about many new uses for them, including the development of synthetic rubber, ink, soap, dye, flour, and vinegar, to name a few. His work also helped increase the profitability of crops like sweet potatoes and peanuts, when cotton supply began to dwindle in the South. 

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