1950s Inventions

For those of you born within the last two decades, your experience with science and technology is unique with respect to the speed and frequency of inventions and innovations. But it wasn’t always so.

We may have thought there were great new things, like colored kitchen appliances and transistor radios, but we could not have anticipated the PC, cellphones, DVDs or the like. We thought it was cool when 78 rpm (rotations per minute) records became 33s. We were astonished when records could be heard in stereo.

Here’s a list of some of the major inventions and innovations of the Fifties.


Zenith introduces “lazy bones” tuning – change all television stations from the comfort of your easy chair. Hand held device plugs into TV

Antihistamines enter popular use for treatment of allergies and head-colds.

Leo Fender’s guitar company introduced their Broadcaster and Esquire models, the first mass-produced solid body electric guitars.

Telephone Answering Machine created by Bell Laboratories and Western Electric.


UNIVAC First commercial computer.

A.E.C. (Atomic Energy Commission) produces electricity from atomic energy.

Super glue invented.

American automobile manufacturer Chrysler Corporation introduces power steering., which they called Hydraguide.

Charles Ginsburg invented the first videotape recorder (VTR).

J. Andre-Thomas invents the first heart-lung machine, allowing advanced life-support during open-heart surgery.

Still camera gets built-in flash units.


Mr. Potato Head patented. See the original

The first patent for bar code (US Patent #2,612,994) issued to inventors Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver

American automobile manufacturer Chrysler Corporation introduces power steering., which they called Hydraguide.

Sony, a brand new Japanese company, introduces the first pocket-sized transistor radio


Radial tires invented.

The first musical synthesizer invented by RCA

The first 3-D movie is shown: Arch Oboler’s Bwana Devil, starring Robert Stack. Learn More

Francis Crick and James Watson discover the “double helix” of DNA.

Con-Tact paper debuts

Dr. Jonas Salk announces discovery of the vaccine for poliomyelitis

White Rose Redi-tea is the world’s first instant iced tea

Dow Chemical creates Saran Wrap

TV color broadcasting began in 1953


The first nonstick pan produced.

The solar cell invented by Chaplin, Fuller and Pearson.

The first successful kidney transplant is performed in the U.S. by Harvard physicians. The patient will survive for seven more years.

General Electric introduces colored kitchen appliances. Bye, bye white!


Tetracycline invented.

Optic fiber invented

Zenith engineer Eugene Polley invented the “Flashmatic,” which represented the industry’s first wireless TV remote.

Gregory Pincus develops the first oral contraceptive

The first home microwave ovens are manufactured by Tappan. They cost $1300 which really slows sales!


The first computer hard disk used.

The hovercraft invented by Christopher Cockerell.

As a result of the joint research of Sherman and Smith, the Scotchgardâ„¢ Protector was launched in the marketplace

Secretary Bette Nesmith Graham invented “Mistake Out” later renamed, Liquid Paper

Los Alamos Laboratory discovers the neutrino, an atomic particle with no electric charge.

Anti-protons detected in the atmosphere.

The first commercial videotape recorder is introduced. The device is intended for industrial applications, and it quickly revolutionizes the way television programming is produced.


Fortran (computer language) invented.

Velcro is patented by George de Mestral of Switzerland.

Eveready produces “AA” size alkaline batteries


The modem invented.

Gordon Gould invents the laser.

The Hula Hoop invented by Richard Knerr and Arthur “Spud” Melin.

The integrated circuit invented by Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce.

Sterophonic recordings, which use two separately recorded channels of sound to recreate a sense of space, come into commercial use.


The internal pacemaker invented by Wilson Greatbatch. In 1959

Joseph-Armand Bombardier of Valcourt, Quebec, Canada patented the Ski-Doo, originally christened the Ski-Dog, but renamed because of a typographical error that Bombardier decided not to change. You know it as a snowmobile.