Innovation is instrumental in the advancement of our society as well as the growth of a company and the economy as a whole. Whether it is incremental developments or life-saving inventions, the development of new and improved solutions to enhance our lives and our understanding of the world involves dedication, vision and perseverance.

As we continue to make giant strides in science and technology, we constantly draw inspiration from innovations throughout history. Listed below are five innovations that were either designed, tested, implemented, patented, or commercialized in the month of February that have impacted our society.

  1. February 27, 1900 – Acetyl salicylic acid (i.e., Aspirin) was patented by Felix Hoffman. Although Hoffman was not the original inventor of the formula used in Aspirin, his systematic investigation into pain relief allowed him to discover the pain-relieving formula developed (and abandoned) by Charles Frederic Gerhardt.
  2. February 17, 1911 – A momentous day in automotive history, the first self-starter system was implemented in a Cadillac, replacing the dangerous, sometimes fatal, crank system used to start cars.
  3. February 4, 1941 – Some inventions are a result of unintended accidents instead of being purposefully designed. This is the case of Teflon. On this day, Roy Plunkett received a patent for his invention of tetrafluoroethylene polymers (Teflon), which he discovered while he was systematically investigating new refrigerants.
  4. February 10, 1976 – Sidney Jacoby received a patent for the development of a system that would sound an alarm after detecting smoke and heat.
  5. February 8, 2016 – Professor Robert Full and co-author Kaushik Jayaram revealed the CRAM robot prototype. Inspired by the strength and agility of cockroaches, this invention can be fitted with cameras, microphones and other sensors to be used in earthquakes and other disasters to help search for victims by navigating through extremely tight spaces even when squashed to half its size.


CRAM robot and cockroach

The CRAM robot. Photo by Tom Libby, Kaushik Jayaram and Pauline Jennings. Source:PolyPEDAL Lab UC Berkeley.