The Evolution of the Windshield Wiper

windshieldsWhen you are looking for a reliable company specializing in Houston auto glass repair, you are probably not giving much thought to your windshield wipers, but this is the perfect time to consider replacing the blades. Windshields and windshield wipers are among those inventions that most of us take for granted until they become damaged and necessitate Houston windshield replacement. However, both windshields and wipers hold a long and interesting history.

Windshields were first developed when automobiles came into use. Horse-drawn carriages and buggies did not require windshields, but cars, on the other hand, could move at much faster speeds. Windshields were required to keep not only wind but also debris and bugs out of the eyes of drivers and passengers.

Although installing windshields solved several problems, the practice created a new one: not being able to see because of rain and dirt. At first, drivers would carry rags, strips of cloth or even potatoes, carrots and wads of tobacco that were used to periodically clean windshields, but in 1902, Mary Anderson of Alabama had a very practical idea.

While visiting New York City, she noticed a trolley driver struggling to keep his windshield clear during a bout of sleet. By the following year, she had developed a contraption that consisted of a lever, an arm and a rubber blade that could be manipulated from inside a vehicle to clear the windshield. At the same time, a man in the U.K., John Henry Apjohn, invented a system that cleaned windshields with brushes.

Neither Anderson’s invention nor Apjohn’s became very popular, and new cars continued to have problems with dirty windshields until a fateful day in Buffalo in 1917. On a particularly rainy night, John R. Oishei collided with a bicyclist as he was driving his National Roadster. Although the bicyclist was not seriously injured, Oishei decided that he would do something to help prevent such accidents in the future.

Soon after the accident, Oishei enlisted the help of John W. Jepson, a retired electrical engineer who had previously designed a manually operated windshield squeegee called the Rain Rubber. Together, Oishei and Jepsen formed the Tri-Continental Corporation (TRICO), patented the device and began to manufacture it. The Rain Rubber was a success, and TRICO became the leading supplier of windshield wipers in the United States.

In 1922, windshield wiper technology was furthered by William Folberth, who is credited with inventing the first motorized wipers. These pneumatic wipers used the vacuum from the intake manifold to move across the windshield, but the speed of the wipers was irrevocably linked to the speed of the car. Three years later, TRICO bought Folberth’s company for $1 million.

While pneumatic wipers were all the rage in the United States, Bosch invented windshield wipers that operated via an electric motor, and by the 1950s, these electric wipers were a standard feature in nearly every automobile.

For more than a decade, electric windshield wipers remained unchanged, but in 1962, Robert Kearns invented a new type of wiper that he modeled after human eyelids. Because people only blinked intermittently, Kearns thought that windshield wipers should do the same, and intermittent power wipers were first installed on a 1962 Ford Galaxie.

Shortly after demonstrating his wipers to Ford executives, Ford and Chrysler both developed versions of intermittent wipers, but Kearns filed a lawsuit for patent infringement and was eventually awarded $29 million in damages.

The state-of-the-art windshield wipers used for many vehicles today were developed in the 1990s and introduced by Cadillac. These wipers incorporate infrared sensors to detect when rain is on the windshield.

When seeking Houston mobile auto glass repair, do not neglect your windshield wipers. It is recommended that you change the blades frequently for best results.

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