A Brief History of the Windshield Wiper
May 31st, 2017
People hadn’t been driving cars for very long before they realized that visibility in the rain was going to be a problem, and hanging one’s head out the window to see wasn’t really a solution. There had to be something to clear a car’s windshield of rainwater.
The very first designs for the windshield wiper were credited to a Polish concert pianist named Jozef Hofmann, as well as Mills Munitions of Birmingham, England. In fact, at least three inventors claimed patents for windshield wiper-type systems right about the same time. In the end, American inventor Mary Anderson received credit for the first operational windshield wiper, back in 1903. Anderson’s “window cleaning device” used a rubber squeegee blade on an arm, operated via a hand-cranked lever from inside the vehicle. Aside from the manual hand-cranked drive, the windshield wiper of 1903 was remarkably similar to what we’re used to today.
By 1917, John Oeishi formed the Tri-Continental Corporation, later to become Trico, one of the largest manufacturers of windshield wipers in the world. The windshield wiper had reached mass production phase!
By the early 1920s, the hand-cranked wiper had been replaced by a system that uses engine vacuum to drive the mechanism. Vacuum wipers were great, except that their speed would vary according to engine load and speed. By the early 60s, vacuum wipers were replaced by an electric drive, and in the mid 60s the intermittent wiper was invented (and was initially rejected by Ford).
- TRIVIA: The linkage of springs and a segmented arm that enables a windshield wiper to distribute its pressure equally across the windshield is known as a “whippletree.”
The materials and design of windshield wipers and arms have been enhanced and perfected over the years, but one thing hasn’t changed. Even the best wipers are only good for about a year before they’re too worn to be effective anymore. At Buckhead Tire, we’ve got a whole selection of windshield wipers for practically any vehicle you can name. If your wipers are leaving streaks on the windshield in rainy weather, don’t just put up with it – make an appointment with us and get those wipers replaced!
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