Recently, Women in Trucking shared the history of Charlotte Bridgwood. Everyone who has driven a modern vehicle and flipped on the windsheild wiper to clear their view as this amazing woman inventor to thank.
If you haven't heard of Bridgwood, take a trip back in automotive history with Work Truck. She embodied the true spirit of an inventor, finding a way to improve on something.
Who is Charlotte Bridgwood?
In 1917, Bridgwood built upon the original manual windshield wiper design by inventor Mary Anderson.
Anderson found herself on a snowy day in New York City, unable to see the beautiful sights due to the weather conditions. Frustrated by her limited visibility, she observed the trolley car driver constantly stopping to clear the snow off the windows.
This experience inspired Anderson to devise a solution: a spring-loaded arm with a rubber blade that could be activated from inside the car, wiping across the windshield.
Bridgwood took Anderson's concept and enhanced it by creating an electrically operated version of the windshield wiper. Her innovative design utilized rollers instead of blades to effectively clean the windshield.
As the president of the Bridgwood Manufacturing Company, Bridgwood introduced her invention, which she named the "Electric Storm Windshield Cleaner."
Like many automotive businesses, Bridgwood, however, faced challenges in commercial production. Her small company manufactured the wipers for a time, but she struggled to secure substantial support.
Consequently, her patent expired in 1920.
Similarly to Anderson, Bridgwood did not receive much recognition for her work. It was only after her patent expired that the windshield wiper design gained popularity. A few years later, they became a standard feature in personal vehicles, with Cadillac being the first car manufacturer to adopt automatic windshield wipers.
Neither Bridgwood nor Anderson possessed formal mechanical or engineering qualifications. Instead, they relied on their practical thinking and resourcefulness to solve a widespread problem. Thanks to their visionary efforts, we now have a device that continues to safeguard drivers during inclement weather.