Washington State: Innovations

If you’ve ever fought off the biting cold with a down parka, fired up a pellet stove in the dead of winter, punched out a term paper on a Windows PC or changed a disposable diaper, you can thank Washington State. Without fanfare, Washington’s residents, businesses and entrepreneurs have changed the world we live in, bringing fresh ideas to market that have captured our imaginations, improved our environment, reshaped entire industries, rekindled our hopes and every so often, changed the course of civilization with something so new and so bold, that it became a disruptive innovation. We’re extremely proud of this role we have played in making the world a better place through our innovations, our ideas and the pioneer spirit that has created legendary businesses and enduring products and services for more than a century. While space prevents us from listing everything “Made in Washington,” we’ve put together some of our favorites, from the groundbreaking to the breathtaking.

1880-01-02 00:00:00

Walla Walla Sweets

You can keep your Bermudas, Texas Sweets and Vidalias, too. We’re good with our Walla Walla Sweets, which came to the Walla Walla Valley at the end of the 19th century and were first harvested in 1900. Walla Wallas are only grown in the Pacific Northwest, must be 95% water and must be harvested by hand, not machine. Onion lovers can thank a French soldier, Peter Peiri, for bringing Italian sweet onion seeds with him when he emigrated from the Isle of Corsica. Careful cultivation and breeding created the super sweet and extremely hardy onions that have earned the Walla Walla Sweet Onion name. Today, only 30 farms on less than a thousand acres produce these highly prized onions.

1893-03-02 00:00:00

Pinking Shears

More than one sewing project came unraveled before the arrival of pinking shears. These little beauties cut fabric on the bias, which is a 45 degree angle to the weave. This zig-zag pattern, made possible by the saw-tooth design, keeps the fabric threads from unraveling. Used by hobbyists, quilters and professional tailors worldwide, the first pinking shears was the brainchild of Louise Austin of Whatcom County who received U.S. patent #489,406 on Jan. 3, 1893 for her invention.

1903-04-21 00:00:00

Automated Fish Cleaner

Edmund Smith was obsessed with finding a way to automate the process of cleaning salmon. After getting a stroke of brilliance, he went to work in his workshop, turning out the prototype in just 10 days. The resulting invention could gut, clean and can a salmon 55 times faster than humans could. Canneries were skeptical at first, but the raw processing power of the Automated Fish Cleaner was hard to argue with. In the time it took an experienced worker to process two fish, Smith’s machine could process 110.

1910-06-05 04:33:56

Father's Day

Celebrating fatherhood and fathers, Father’s Day was the brainchild of Sonora Smart Dodd, a Spokane native. After hearing a sermon about Mother’s Day she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday. She initially suggested her father’s birthday as he was a single parent who raised Sonora and her five siblings. There’s wasn’t enough time to promote June 5 as the date, so the third Sunday of June was chosen instead. It wasn’t until the 1930s, when Sonora had finished school and returned to Spokane, that the celebration of all things father took off at a national level. Some folks were cynical at first of the idea of a day for fathers, feeling it was an attempt to replicate the commercial success of Mother’s Day. The day was finally made an official national holiday in 1972 when President Nixon signed it into law.

1912-12-12 07:33:34

Roman Meal Bread

Long before the nation had a health craze, a Washington State baker was creating bread that offered outstanding nutrition and solid health benefits. Based on a hot breakfast cereal of whole grain wheat, rye, bran and flaxseed, the bread was based on the diet Roman soldiers lived off of as they conquered the world – two pounds daily of wheat or rye. Though Dr. Robert Jackson came up with the cereal, it was master baker Henry Matthaei who created the bread recipe, which remains largely unchanged. Today, Roman Meal Bread is produced by 90 bakeries across the United States and abroad and is still a family owned and operated business that was dedicated to the health of families long before it was fashionable.

1914-02-03 00:00:00

Filson Cruiser

In a world where fashions change daily, it’s refreshing to know that the Filson Cruiser remains a popular fashion statement today. Patented in 1914, the jacket is named after its inventor, C.C. Filson. Still manufactured in Seattle, the Filson Cruiser (it’s also known as the Alaska Tuxedo), continues to be the company’s bestseller. It was originally designed for loggers who appreciated the tight woven fabric that kept them dry and warm on the job.

1915-09-01 06:06:14

Fair Scones

Yes, the British invented dry little biscuits known as scones, but the Fisher Flour folks created the iconic Fair Scone, a must-have at state fairs throughout Washington State. In 1915, O.D. Fisher was looking for a way to showcase his flour, which was milled in Seattle. His unique creation blended the very best of Northwest agriculture: wheat from Eastern Washington, red raspberries from the fields of Western Washington, and butter from the dairies that dotted the countryside. Selling for a nickel a piece, they were an instant hit with fairgoers. Over the years, Fisher Scones have taken their rightful place as fair food musts, along with elephant ears and Krusty Pups. It should come as no surprise that the company has sold more than 100 million scones over the last century, including 1.3 million last year alone. If you’re a foody or love big numbers, Fisher goes through 75 tons of flour, 12 tons of butter and 40 tons of raspberry jam during in four weeks during the Washington State Fair in Puyallup. Yum!

1918-06-20 02:57:58

Oberto Jerky

While the Oberto Sausage Company has been known for its salami, sausage and pepperoni over the years, it’s the jerky that has earned it lasting fame. Though the company didn’t invent jerky, they perfected it over the years, not only creating a world-class jerky, but the market for it as well. Demand soared once Safeway began to sell its products nationwide, becoming the leader in the natural beef jerky category within just five years. Six members of the Oberto family still run the company, which has become a national business legend with very local roots.

1920-05-04 00:00:00

Butter Cutter

William Ruttle’s butter cutter could slice one-pound blocks of hardened butter into 54 perfectly formed and sized pats of butter, so Betty Botter could buy that bit of better butter and make better squares with a Ruttle Butter Cutter. Sorry, we couldn't resist.

1921-03-18 11:18:12

Cycloidal Propulsion

The ability to control thrust in any desired direction was the dream of early aeronautical engineers, especially Frederick Kirsten. A lifelong inventor (see the Kirsten Pipe entry), the University of Washington professor devised a propeller that could do just that. Thrust could be delivered in any direction, thanks to the blades that could adjust automatically to conditions without loss of efficiency. The idea was so promising that Bill Boeing went into business with Kirsten, putting up $175,000 of his own money. The innovative propellers were even considered as propulsion of the U.S. Navy’s new generation of lighter-than-air aircraft carriers. Though they never found their way into the air, they did end up finding a use in the maritime industry. Used in tugs and other marine craft, the cycloidal propellers of today allow vessels to move in any direction without the use of a rudder.

1922-07-21 00:00:00

Backpack

Necessity is the mother of invention, so they say. It certainly was for Lloyd Nelson, who went on a rather painful hike one day, hauling around a traditional sticks and sealskin backpack. Knowing there had to be a better way, he devised a new pack with a wood frame that a canvas sack could be attached to with removable pins, so it could be cleaned. The shoulder straps bore the weight of the pack, creating more comfort for the hiker. Unfortunately, Nelson was a bit ahead of his time, since wilderness hiking wasn’t exactly popular in the 1920s. He ended selling his business to Trager Manufacturing and the rest truly is history. Today, Nelson is considered the father of the modern outdoor gear industry.

1923-01-01 02:57:58

Almond Roca

Brown & Haley had a good thing going with their full line of candy products, including their ode to Mt. Rainier, the Mountain Bar. But the company struck gold with Almond Roca, a delicious buttercrunch confection that a local librarian dubbed Almond Roca. The foil-wrapped confection quickly became a hit, even traveling with troops overseas. Today, Almond Roca can be found in 63 countries in Europe, Africa, South America, Australia, Asia, and of course, North America. True to the Northwest spirit, the candy is still made in the same factory that Brown & Haley built back in 1919.

1924-09-01 00:00:00

Doughnut Maker

Who would have guessed that a calumet baking powder can would lead to a dynasty in the doughnut cutter business? Coffee shop and bakery owner Thomas Belshaw and his brother Walter were using the can to cut out doughnuts when they were inspired to create the first automated doughnut machine. Over the years the brothers have developed 26 models of the machinery and Thomas was awarded nine patents for his doughnut making and bakery equipment. And yes, it's safe to say this story probably has a lot of holes in it. :)

1926-08-10 02:57:58

Vinyl Records

Waldo Semon wasn’t born in Washington State, but without his chemistry education at the University of Washington where he earned his doctorate in chemical engineering, you may have never have been able to hear your favorite song on the hi-fi. The holder of 116 patents, Waldo invented vinyl, the second most used form of plastic. He did it by mixing several different synthetic polymers together, creating a substance that was elastic, but not adhesive.

1928-12-31 00:00:00

Water Skis

Great minds think alike, particularly in the case of water skis, which were invented by three different people, each unknown to the others. Don Ibsen of Seattle is credited with being one of these innovators, becoming consumed with the idea in the summer of 1928. After failing miserably with boards pulled from wooden boxes, Don crafted his first water skis out of two slabs of cedar. He sold his first pair of water skis in 1934 and took his love of water skiing to a new level in 1954, appearing in Life magazine dressed in a hat and briefcase as he skied to work at Ibsen Water Skis.

1930-05-07 08:09:28

Flight Attendants

To win the confidence of passengers and lure them away from trains, Boeing Air Transport hired eight nurses to serve aboard its passenger planes. Ellen Church has the honor of being the first stewardess. It was her idea. Originally, stewardesses (flight attendants today) had to be single, younger than 25 years old, weigh less than 115 pounds and be less than 5’ 4” in height. They not only comforted passengers and took care of those who were airsick, but were responsible for screwing down loose seats, fueling planes during stopovers and hauling all the luggage aboard.

1933-03-02 00:00:00

Modern Airliner

Other airplanes came before it, but the Boeing 247 is regarded as the first true modern airliner, incorporating many of the features that have become the standard since: retractable landing gear, deicing boots on the wings, a restroom for passengers and an autopilot

1934-03-02 00:00:00

Bauer Shuttlecock

Eddie Bauer's flair for innovation didn't stop with the down parka. Eddie also invented a shuttlecock for badminton, The Bauer Shuttlecock, which popularized the sport in the U.S. It is still used in competition badminton.

1936-04-21 15:00:43

Down Parka

Necessity is the mother of invention they say. It certainly was in Eddie Bauer’s case. After suffering hypothermia on a fishing trip, Eddie tried to find an alternative to the bulky wool garments used by outdoorsmen. His solution was The Skyliner, the first quilted goose-down jacket. As the story goes, Eddie was just 22 when he had a near death experience due to a soaking wet wool jacket. It was then that he remembered his Russian uncle who survived the harsh winters of the Russo-Japanese War by wearing goose-down undergarments. He went on to sell his parkas to the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II along with pants and sleeping bags. He was the only government supplier to be allowed to affix his company logo to his products during the war.

1936-06-09 02:51:29

Bass Guitar

Rock ‘n’ roll may have never rolled without the invention of the bass guitar. While Leo Fender often gets credit for perfecting the bass, it was actually Paul Tutmarc of Seattle who made the first modern electric bass guitar. The Audivox was a solid body, bass guitar made out of walnut and came on the scene in 1936, 16 years before Fender brought his to market. It was distributed by the L.D. Heater Music, Co. of Portland, Oregon and was the first bass that could be held and played horizontally, as opposed to stand up models.

1936-12-31 14:15:46

Kirsten Pipe

Fresh from making neon lighting that made Seattle theater facades 20 times brighter than their contemporaries, UW professor Frederick Kirsten turned his attention to the problem of smoking. Told by his doctor to quit cigarettes, he found pipes unfulfilling. So he designed a new pipe, the Kirsten Pipe, which uses an aluminum stem that cools the smoke, a tissue-paper filter to remove impurities, and a more efficient bowl to help the tobacco burn more purely. It is considered the Cadillac of pipes and is still produced by the Kirsten family, who follows the designs created by Frederick.

1937-05-31 14:15:46

Single Handed Water Faucet

They say necessity is the mother of invention. That certainly is true of a young man by the name of Al Moen. Al was a young college student who was earning his way through college by cleaning up a garage. After being scalded with water from an old-fashioned two-handle faucet, Al knew there had to be a better way to draw water and soon his idea for a single-handle faucet took shape. Though he was granted a patent in 1939, World War II put his plans on hold and it wasn’t until 1947 that he found a manufacturer who could handle the project – Ravenna Metal Products of Seattle. From there, Moen plumbing products found their way into tens of thousands of homes, leading Fortune magazine to crown Moen Faucets “100 of America’s Best.”

1938-03-02 00:00:00

Thermal Upsetting

If you enjoy the curved legs of the Space Needle, you can thank Seattle blacksmith Joe Holt. It was Holt who created the technique of thermal upsetting, which uses a controlled heat source application to bend metal into a curve by allowing the metal to expand and contract as it is heated and cooled. Today, it is still a common technique used by welders and machine shops. In 1961, it was the only way to bend the long beams that open up to hold the Space Needle's observation deck and restaurant at the top of the 600' structure.

1940-03-02 00:00:00

Dick and Jane Primers

Generations of school-age moppets can thank or curse Elizabeth Montgomery for learning all about Dick, Jane, Sally, Father, Mother and Spot in grade school. Containing just 17 words, Montogmery’s first book, We Look and See, introduced the world to Dick and Jane. Hardly an overnight success, it took her seven years to finally get these famed elementary readers published. She went on to write 14 additional books for the Foresman Company and helped teach a generation or two how to read.

1940-05-31 14:15:46

Tree Farm

Sustainability is a big buzzword in the timber industry today, but it was the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company that thought up the idea of farming trees. The company set aside 120,000 acres of land in Washington to experiment with the idea of fire control and reforestation in 1940, decades before there was a Department of Ecology or Earth Day. The tree farm included lookout towers, telephone networks and roads to prevent and fight fires and a public education program taught the public how to enjoy forest lands while protecting them from fire. Today, their pioneering tree farm concept is an industry standard.

1949-03-02 00:00:00

Pirate Entertainment

Thanks to the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise, thousands of people dress up as pirates these days. But the origins of the idea can be traced to the Seattle Seafair Pirates, who were founded in 1949, more than four decades before Captain Jack Sparrow appeared on the silver screen. Appearing at events throughout the world, the group pioneered the idea of bringing the golden age of piracy to life as goodwill ambassadors for the city of Seattle.

1949-05-31 14:15:46

Unlimited Hydroplane

Riding on a cushion of air trapped between two outrigger sponsons, the hydroplane is as much a flying wing as it is a boat. Created by Boeing engineer Ted Jones, boat builder Anchor Jensen and auto dealer Stan Sayres, the first successful propriding hydroplane, the Slo-Mo-Shun IV, captured the Gold Cup in 1950, bringing the prestigious race to the shores of Lake Washington and putting Washington State on the map. Hundreds of thousands of spectators would line the beach to see these boats hit speeds of almost 180 mph with only about a foot of the boat in the water at speed.

1950-11-08 18:22:00

Modern Shopping Mall

After World War II suburbanization was well under way. While a few shopping centers had already popped up across the country, Northgate Mall was the first to arrange all its stores so they faced towards each other along a lengthwise mall corridor. Northgate also has the honor of opening the first mall movie theater, beating Shopper’s World Center in Framingham, Massachusetts by a month in 1951. The mall featured 80 stores just two years later. It is considered the granddaddy of all modern malls.

1951-06-06 00:00:00

Automatic Car Wash

Everyone in the Seattle area knows of the famed Elephant Car Wash and its iconic pink elephant. But few may know that it was the first automatic car wash in the United States. The Anderson family was the first to figure out how to turn its semiautomatic car wash into a fully automated experience and, word is they really cleaned up as a result.

1952-07-17 13:07:40

Bread Clips

Flying home on an airliner one day, Floyd Paxton opened his bag of peanuts, only to find that he couldn't reseal it. Carving a rudimentary clip from an plastic card he had in his wallet, he came up with the idea of the bread clip. When a local fruit packer wanted to replace rubber bands with a better bag closure for its new plastic bags, Floyd offered up his new clip. Though he was never granted a patent for his invention, his resulting company, Kwik Lok, did quite nicely and became the #1 manufacturer of bread clips in the world.

1952-11-08 18:22:00

Slinky Dog

The idea for the Slinky may have come from an engineer in Philadelphia, but it was Helen Malsed from Seattle who gave it a personality. The Slinky found its way under the family tree one Christmas and Helen’s six year old asked, “I wonder what this could do with wheels.” Off went Helen to the basement, Slinky in hand. She sent off her drawings and suggestion to make the Slinky a pull toy and the Slinky Dog, along with the Slinky Train and other pull toys, were added to the Slinky production line. Over the course of her lifetime, Helen invented 26 different toys, including Fisher Price’s Snap Lock Beads.

1953-08-12 00:00:00

Compact Depth Finder

You can thank Wayne Ross for making it hard to run your boat aground. He invented the compact depth sounder in 1953, the first small sonar small enough to fit on a pleasure craft or commercial fishing boat. Before Wayne came along, you had to know someone to get a bulky war surplus sonar machine and they were pricey. At $169 each, his Ross Laboratories depth finders were an instant hit.

1955-01-04 08:56:46

Portable Heart Defibrillator

Portable heart defibrillators are everywhere today, but there was a time when lives hung in the balance as precious seconds ticked by, with no hope of restarting the heart. Thankfully, Washington State physician Karl William Edmark created what others have called the “most dramatic medical innovation to emerge from the Northwest.” Dr. Edmark’s claim to fame was creating a device that used direct current, making the defibrillator safer and more effective than previous designs which used alternating current. The resulting lightweight, portable defibrillators set a new standard in treating heart attack victims and allowed medical personnel in the field to terminate ventricular fibrillation and stabilize a patient before transport to the hospital. The first life saved was a 12-year-old Seattle girl in 1961.

1955-12-01 15:13:58

I-Formation

Seattle native Don Coryell may have lacked the size to be a star halfback for the University of Washington, but his 29-year coaching career solidified his place in college football history books. While he was running back coach at Wenatchee Valley College, Don created the “I” formation in football. During his college and professional coaching career, he also created the H-back and pioneered many aspects of what is now known as the West Coast Offense, which has many of the elements of the Air Coryell all-out passing attack he perfected as head coach of the San Diego Chargers.

1958-01-09 00:00:00

Snap Lock Beads

Helen Herrick Malsed was hardly a one hit wonder. In addition to the Slinky Dog, Helen also created the giant jewel shaped blocks that could be snapped together and licensed them to Fisher Price. They are still a children's favorite today!

1959-06-01 15:13:58

Disposable Diapers

Waldo Semon (of 1926 vinyl records fame) was the adviser on Victor Mills’ thesis at the University of Washington where he too was studying to be a chemical engineer. A great example of being in the right place at the right time. Tasked with finding a way for Procter & Gamble to use a new paper pulp plant it had purchased, Victor came up with the idea of disposable diapers because he hated changing his grandson’s cloth diapers. Pampers were an instant hit with parents even though the original Pampers required you to supply your own tape. Victor also improved the recipes for Duncan Hines cake mixes and figured out how to keep the oil from separating in Jif peanut butter.

1960-03-09 02:57:58

Scribner Shunt

Before the Scribner Shunt, veins became damaged every time a patient was connected to a kidney dialysis machine. The shunt, which routes blood from the artery back into the vein, allowed the patient to be connected to the machine without additional incisions and without destroying the blood vessels. Pioneered by Belding Scribner and his team at the University of Washington, the shunt’s first recipient was Boeing machinist Clyde Shields, who received his shunt on March 9, 1960. Scribner went on to pioneer the portable kidney dialysis machine, another Washington State invention.

1961-06-01 15:13:58

Fiberglass Skis

While other inventors toyed with the idea of using fiberglass for skis, wrapping wood skis with the material to increase performance, Bill and Don Kirschner created the first modern fiberglass skis with a foam, not wood, core in 1961. It wasn’t until three years later, however, that the first Holiday K2s went into production and within a year, the company was churning out 21,000 pairs of the new skis with their characteristic red, white and blue stripes. Once a K2-equipped skier won the World Cup, sales skyrocketed and the company solidified its place as a business legend with its American-made skis.

1964-01-13 15:34:13

Kidney Dialysis Machine

A high school student by the name of Caroline Helm changed the course of kidney dialysis. Denied access to a machine by an ethics committee, a Seattle team led by Dr. Belding Scribner (inventor of the Scribner Shunt) asked Albert Babb to design a portable dialysis machine Caroline could use at home. The resulting prototype became the basis for commercial versions that now treat 750,000 patients worldwide. Dr. Scribner went on to spearhead the formation of the Northwest Kidney Centers, the first “outpatient” dialysis treatment center in the world.

1964-12-13 15:34:13

Instant Breakfast

Any kid growing up in the 1960s knew of this amazing space age innovation: A beverage that promised all the nutrition of a full breakfast. Carnation Instant Breakfast was created by the Carnation Milk Company, which used an ordinary glass of milk as the basis for this product. Available in several flavors, Carnation Instant Breakfast made its debut in seven western states in 1964, offering three new flavors – coffee, chocolate and plain – a box of six packets costing just 69¢.

1965-01-13 15:56:15

Pickleball

Part badminton, part tennis, Pickleball was created on a hot summer’s day in 1965. Washington Congressman Joel Pritchard and friends Bill Bell and Barney McClellum were bored. When they couldn’t find a shuttlecock to play badminton, they began to improvise, chopping the rackets down and using a whiffle ball instead. Eventually, new paddles of wood were fashioned, rules were established and the game of Pickleball took shape. The name of the game comes from a term used in crew racing. A boat where the oarsmen are chosen from the leftovers of other boats is known as the pickle boat. Since Pickleball was a combination of other activities, the name seemed fitting.

1967-01-12 22:26:37

Doppler Ultrasound

Though researchers had tried ultrasound in the 1950s, it was up to Donald Baker at the University of Washington to figure out a way to make those fuzzy, indiscernible images into high-resolution images we know of today. Using Doppler technology to pulse sound waves instead of transmitting them continuously, Doppler ultrasound not only provided real-time images of internal structures of the body, including a baby in the womb, but it was completely non-invasive.

1967-11-01 15:58:52

Aero-Go

Washington resident Walt Crowley is quite the inventor. He created the first practical air cushion vehicle in 1967, then later went to work for Boeing where he pioneered an air-bearing system for moving heavy loads using compressed air. Boeing backed his design, which could move an entire 747 jumbo jet on a cushion of air and then spun the idea off into a new company, Aero-Go. Today, the company continues to provide manufacturers with practical and efficient ways to rotate, align and move products up to 5,000 tons using air caster technologies perfected by Walt when he worked for Boeing.

1969-03-02 00:00:00

Lunar Rover

Designed to allow astronauts to cover more ground during their final three missions to the moon, the Lunar Roving Vehicle, or Lunar Rover, was delivered just 17 months after NASA gave the green light. Built in Kent, Washington by Boeing, the 480-pound rover (it weighed just 80 pounds on the moon) was an engineering marvel, propelled by battery-operated motors and capable of traversing a variety of terrain at up to 10 mph. It carried two astronauts plus experiments and lunar samples. The technology required for the rover later found its way into motorized wheelchairs back on Earth.

1969-07-01 15:58:52

Jumbo Jet

Launched by Pan Am, the Boeing 747 ushered in the age of the jumbo jet. The plane was so large that the Wright Brothers wouldn’t have even made it out of the Economy section on their first flight (150 ft.). Constructed in Everett in the largest building in the world, which is so large it can be seen from space, the 747 evoked gasps of wonder when it first rolled out from the factory. When Pat Patterson, president of United Airlines saw it for the first time, he was so awestruck by its massive size that his first words were reportedly, “Jesus Christ!”

1969-07-01 15:58:52

Holography

Science fiction collided with the real world at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory as researchers invented the basics of holography. A year later, physicians saw the first images of the inside of a living human, thanks to the acoustic holography technologies perfected by the team.

1970-03-08 15:52:22

Compact Discs

It's pretty poetic that the same state that gave the world vinyl should come up with its replacement. Engineer and audiophile James T. Russell is credited with creating the first digital to optical recording technology, which led to the advent of the compact disc. Good thing, as playing vinyl in your car required a really big dashboard.

1970-12-01 13:07:40

Medic One

If you ever watched the TV show Emergency, then you know how Medic One works. While several cities developed the concept simultaneously, Seattle was first in creating a tiered response system that is now the standard in emergency response. Fire departments served as the front line response, supported by a mobile intensive coronary care unit which was equipped with heart defibrillation capabilities administered by specially trained paramedics. The final part of the program called Medic 2 trained the public in CPR techniques. Within two decades, more than 500,000 citizens were certified in administering CPR.

1971-12-01 13:07:40

Therm-a-Rest Self-Inflating Insulating Mattress

Idleness is said to be the devil’s workshop, but it can also be a source of inspiration. Two laid-off Boeing workers, John Burroughs and Lim Lea, were avid backpackers. Climber bedding at the time required lying on the cold, hard ground; not much fun. Inspired by a kneeling pad used in a garden, the two inventors built a prototype of the bed using a secondhand sandwich grill, heat-fusing layers of perforated polyurethane to create a self-inflating pad.

1973-11-30 15:52:22

Mountain Safety Research Model 9 Stove

Dehydration is serious stuff at altitude, causing Accute Mountain Sickness. Toting weighty bottles of water up a mountain isn’t practical and boiling snow was very laborious, at least until Larry Penberty came along. An avid climber himself, Larry perfected the first stove burner that could efficiently melt snow at high altitude. At just 12 oz., the lightweight Model 9 stove used small fuel tanks that were separated from the burner. The stove was just one of his many inventions. To include them all, we’d have to do a “Made by Larry” timeline instead of “Made in Washington.”

Washington State: Innovations

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