When we think about military products we mostly imagine different sorts of weapons, ammunition, gears or uniform. The more surprisingly to know that many products that were originally designed for the army have found their use in our every day life. Let’s see what inventions were given us by army.
The internet’s precursor appeared in 1960s when military agencies set themselves the task of creating a network that would connect computers in Pentagon, the Strategic Air Command, and the bombproof defense command centers. The researches responsible for fulfilling this task came down with idea of technology, protocols and basic hardware that all allowed to bring this idea to life. After such a network had been successfully tested the idea of internet was introduced to the college system which significantly improved it and at some degree turned it to internet we all know today.
If you have a smartphone then you are a lucky possessor of a system that protects you from being lost. Before the WWII army used on-ground systems of navigation but they were vulnerable to enemy’s attacks and depended on weather. In order to find a way to create a system without such flows was created a satellite program called Transit/NAVSTAR in 1960s. Later, upon a success of this system NATO adopted it and presented an improved version of this system that received name Navstar-GPS. And for commercial and civil use Global Positioning System the way we know it now was allowed in 1996.
Microwaves themselves were discovered during WWII upon researches in radio transmission and radar detection. As a result scientists invented magnetron which was used in airplanes for more précised bombing. After the war in 1945 one of the engineers working for a military contractor, Percy Lebaron Spencer, noticed that microwave radiation produced enough heat to melt a candy bar in his pocket. The first microwave oven was released in 1954 and now it is an imprescriptible aid in our kitchens.
Since 1950’s USA actively used satellite system of surveillance. The major flaw of such a system was in the method of conveying information gathering during the spying – the film was launched right from the orbit and intercept in mid-air, but 1/3 of the films were lost. So military agencies were looking for a better way to receive images. Luckily the invention of Steven Sasson from Eastman Kodak came to help – he discovered a way to use a sensor to collect light and a mean to store the data. This invention was tested when NASA and USAF launched a satellite Kennan in 1976. Since then pretty the same technology is used in all our digital cameras.
During Napoleon expansion in Europe there was an issue how to feed such a massive army. The French government offered a serious reward to those who would offer a way to store and preserve food for the army. A French cook Nicolas Appert noticed that food doesn’t spoil in tightly closed jars. So the army adapted this observation to its needs replacing jars with tin cans. So the army could feed millions of soldiers with cheap food. On the dark side – a can opener was invented only 30 years later.
Was created during the WWII as a mean to seal ammunition cases. It was constructed out of medical bandage and adhesive substance that had water proof properties, and maybe with analogy to water resistant feathers of a duck it got it second name as a duck tape. Soon after the war duct tape got rid of its grey color changing it to well know silver grey, and we all realized that we got something with which we can fix everything.
Where duct tape can’t help us there is one more way to fix everything – just glue pieces together. In 1942 Harry Coover, a chemist in Eastman Kodak, invented cyanoacrylate. Army successfully used it for clear plastic gunsights, but it was fast established that it can glue almost everything. In 1958 cynoacrylate got a commercial name that we all know – Super Glue
Technically safety razors were not invented in the army or for the army, but the army gave them second life. The concept of safety razors was introduced by King Camp Gillette in 1903. Unfortunately for him in a chase for fast income he priced his products much higher than people could pay, besides competitors came up with identical goods at lower price. Luckily for Gillette he happened to come across a contract with the army that obligated him to supply every American soldier in WWI with shaving kit. That made his safety razors truly famous.
Pads and Tampons
During WWI for the needs of the army company Kimberly-Clark created cellucotton with absorption properties of 5 times better than cotton. This material was used for bandages. After the war the demand for these products dropped and Kimberly-Clark was looking for new ways to use cellucotton. They found that army nursed used strips of cellucotton during their menstrual cycle. At that time there were no products purpose-designed for such days, so the company used the breach in this niche introducing brand Kotex.