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What are the New Inventions of the 1920s?

The 1920s saw many important new inventions in diverse fields, from transportation to health. These years were "The Roaring 20s" in the United States because of the prosperity and many innovations. It is hard to imagine living without the new inventions of the 1920s.

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Sir Alexander Fleming invented Penicillin in 1928 when he was studying bacteria. Fleming learnt from his battlefront experience during World War I that bacteria were even more deadly killers than the enemy troops. He wanted to find a chemical to stop bacterial infection and save lives. Penicillin became one of the most important antibiotic drugs, saving countless lives after approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


Earle Dickson worked at a factory that made gauze and tape, called "Johnson & Johnson." Dickson came up with the idea of combining the tape with the gauze to help his wife, who frequently got cuts on her body. He started selling his invention in 1924, and Johnson & Johnson began mass-producing the product under the name "Band-Aid."

Lie Detector

John Larson invented the lie detector "polygraph" machine in 1921. He recognised the importance of asking the right questions with the right wording in addition to the apparatus itself. Larson named his invention a "cardio-pneumo-psychogram" and it wrote out a series of detection remarks on a drum of paper. It measured pulse rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure all at the same time.

Bread Slicing Machine

Otto Frederick Rowedder started designing his bread slicer in 1912 in Iowa. He finally completed the breakthrough machine in 1927. The machine could slice and wrap a loaf of bread. The world has since immortalised his invention with the popular expression, "The best thing since sliced bread."

Traffic Lights

Detroit police officer named William Potts invented the traffic light in 1920. He wired up red, amber and green lights on the corner of Woodward and Michigan Avenues. But Potts' traffic light was not automatic. Inventor Garrett Morgan invented the automated traffic light right after Potts came up with the original version.

Automobile with Combustion Engine

The invention of the steam-powered car came in 1866, but Henry Ford made the first car that ran on fuel in a combustion engine in 1920. Steam-powered cars were expensive to build, limiting ownership to a small number of people. Ford mass-produced his Model-T cars, creating many jobs and drastically improving transportation in America.

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About the Author

Brian Gabriel has been a writer and blogger since 2009, contributing to various online publications. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in history from Whitworth University.

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