10 Things to thank Michigan for
Posted on December 11 2014
You wouldn’t even be reading this right now if it weren’t for Lansing-born physicist Donald B. Keck. In 1970, Keck — who earned his Ph.D. from Michigan State University — helped develop the “first optical fiber … for wide use in telecommunications.”
AUTOMOBILE ASSEMBLY LINE
According to a book entitled Michigan Yesterday & Today authored by Robert W. Domm, the modern assembly line and its basic concept is credited to Ransom Olds, who used it to build the first mass-produced automobile, the Oldsmobile Curved Dash. Olds patented the assembly line concept, which he put to work in his Olds Motor Vehicle Company factory in 1901. This development is often overshadowed by Henry Ford, who perfected the assembly line by installing driven conveyor belts that could produce a Model T in 93 minutes.
We don’t know what babies ate before baby food. Thankfully in 1928, Daniel Frank Gerber, Jr. took his father’s modest Fremont Canning Company — that’s Fremont, Michigan — to new success when he introduced Gerber’s Baby Food. Familiar, right?
When you think of Jiffy Mix, you may think biscuits and corn muffins. But did you know they are also Michigan made?
Howdy Holmes is the president and CEO of Jiffy Mix. His grandmother is the one who started it all.
Known as the “Cereal Capital of the World,” Battle Creek, Michigan is remembered as the birthplace of two major cereal companies, Post and Kellogg’s in 1895 and 1906, respectively. At one point, the city hosted as many as 80 different cereal companies.
Edward N. Hines (1870-1938) was a member of the Wayne County Road Commission (of Wayne County, Michigan), from 1906 to 1938. He is one of the most important innovators in road development. Hines originated the concept of painting a line down the center of a road to separate traffic in opposing directions. The idea came to him after watching a leaky milk wagon leave a trail down the street. Painted center lines were first used in 1911 on River Road in Trenton, in Wayne County. By 1922, all of the major roads in Wayne County had center lines. This simple idea has since been recognized as one of the most important single traffic safety devices in the history of highway transportation.
During World War II, the United States and Great Britain spent $20 million in a failed effort to synthesize penicillin; most thought it impossible. Not until 1957 did Battle Creek-born John C. Sheehan (Ph.D., University of Michigan) achieve the impossible.
4 WAY TRAFFIC LIGHTS
Though he never filed for a patent, William Potts — a Detroit police officer — is credited with adding a yellow light to the four-way traffic signal, thus producing the first modern traffic light at the “corner of Woodward and Michigan avenues.”
AMERICAN GINGER ALE
While ginger ale originated in Ireland around 1851, America’s oldest ginger ale calls Michigan home — specifically Detroit. Named after its pharmacist inventor, Vernors is still around today, 130 years later. Also it's great with a cold, as you know.
Inventor of such things as “the turning frame, the cast cutting saw, a rubber heel for walking casts, [and] an oscillating bone saw,” Dr. Homer Stryker was beloved by Kalamazoo. His most famous invention was the patient-operated Circo-Letric Bed.