Benjamin Franklin was not only one of the founding fathers, he was also a printer, postmaster, diplomat, leading author, scientist, swimmer and inventor. In between engineering the U.S. postal system, starting the first lending library in the U.S., running a print shop and starting up the American revolution, he was constantly inventing things to make his life easier. Although he didn’t patent any of his inventions, we still make use of many of them today.

Benjamin Franklin’s Most Interesting Inventions

  • Bifocal glasses – Franklin had two sets of glasses, which he decided to cut in half and combine so he can see both near and far distances. This clever design is commonly prescribed today with people that suffer from the same eye condition Franklin did.
  • Lightning rod – Franklin designed the first lightning rod that protects many houses from thunder strikes today.
  • Electricity – Franklin did not invent electricity, but discovered a lot of very useful things about electricity. We thank terms such as conductor, condenser, charge, battery, plus and minus, positive and negative and armature to him today.
  • Swim Fins – at the young age of 11, Franklin designed his first set of swim fins – he however attached them to his hands, not his feet like today’s flippers
  • Flexible Catheter – To provide some relief to his older brother, John, who had kidney stones, Franklin invented the first flexible urinary catheter, which was much less painful than the rigid ones of those days.
  • Odometer – Although this concept already existed for years, Franklin created a new type of odometer that you could attach to close to the wheels of a carriage in order to register the distance.
  • Long Arm – Franklin was tired of struggling with a step ladder to reach the books at the top shelves, so he invented the “long” arm, a simple reaching hook.
  • The Franklin Stove – Franklin designed a stove that is much more effective than fireplaces, and of which versions are now used all over the world in cottages and cabins.