4 Jul

Today is 7月4日 (July 4). 「アメリカ独立記念日」 (American Independence Day).

I don’t usually do anything special on this day. Although there are many 花火大会 (fireworks shows) in Japan during the summer, they don’t usually start until late July or early August.

Watching fireworks is a “Fourth Of July” tradition in America, but I don’t live in America.
(It’s possible that the U.S. military bases in Japan will have a fireworks show this evening. I’m not sure. I don’t live near any U.S. military base anyways).

But anyways, in honor of the 234th anniversary of America’s independence from England, I am writing a list of some of American inventions that have changed the world (in most cases, for the better).

So, according to the U.S. Patent Office, this is a list of some of the numerous things that have been invented in America:

  • Swim Fins: (1717) Invented by Benjamin Franklin
  • Franklin Stove: (1742) Also invented by Benjamin Franklin
  • Refrigeration: (1805)
  • Circular Saw: (1813)
  • Dental Floss: (1815)
  • Morse Code: (1832) Invented by Samuel Morse
  • Revolver (Firearm): (1836) Invented by Samuel Colt (founder of the Colt Gun Co.)
  • Vulcanized Rubber: (1844) Invented by Charles Goodyear (founder of Goodyear Tires)
  • Safety Pin: (1849)
  • Potato Chips: (1853)
  • Rolled Toilet Paper: (1857) Surprised this one took this long. Before this invention, people were using pages from old newspapers and magazines or leaves from plants.
  • Escalator: (1859)
  • Roller Skates: (1863)
  • Cowboy Hat: (1865)
  • Paper Clip: (1867)
  • Barbed Wire: (1867)
  • Cash Register: (1879)
  • Electric Chair: (1881)
  • The “STOP” Sign: (1890)
  • U.S. "Stop" sign

    Japanese 「止まれ」 ("Stop") sign

  • Ferris Wheel: (1891)
  • Zipper: (1891)
  • Radio: (1893)
  • Flashlight: (1898)
  • “Teddy” Bear: (1902) A toy maker made a stuffed toy bear and named it “Teddy” after the U.S. President at that time, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, who went hunting but decided against killing a bear cub.
  • Air Conditioning: (1902) Before this invention, places in the southern U.S. such as Florida (where I grew up) were unpopular to live.
  • Airplane: (1903) Invented by the famous Wright brothers.
  • Ice Pop: (1905) Usually called by the brand name Popsicle in the U.S. In Japan, it’s called 「アイスキャンディー」 (“Ice Candy”). It was invented by an eleven-year-old American boy.
  • Automobile Self-starter: (1911) Eliminated the need to engine hand-cranks on cars.
  • Fast Food Restaurant: (1912) For better or worse, these changed the industrialized world.
  • Traffic Signals: (1912)
  • Fortune Cookie: (1914) Although many Americans associate it with Chinese food, the “Fortune Cookie” is only found in Chinese restaurants in America. Actually, it was invented by a Japanese-American man.
  • Ice Cube Tray: (1928)
  • Electric Razor: (1928)
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies: (1930)
  • Electric Guitar: (1931)
  • Stock Car Racing: (1936) Led to the formation of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR).
  • Corn Dog: (1942) Called a 「アメリカンドッグ」 (“American Dog”) in Japan.
  • 「アメリカンドッグ」 (Corn Dog)

  • Napalm: (1943) A terrible substance used as a military weapon.
  • Supersonic Aircraft: (1947)
  • Windsurfing: (1948)
  • Cable Television: (1948)
  • Polio Vaccine: (1952)
  • Barcode: (1952) Invented in America, but Japan turned them into an art form.
  • Eight-track Tape: (1964) This impractical medium for playing music was actually popular for about a decade.
  • KISS "Alive II" on 8-track tape

  • Snowboarding: (1965)
  • Inline Skates: (1979)
  • Space Shuttle: (1981)
  • Nicotine Patch: (1988) To help people quit smoking. I wonder if it actually works.
  • Global Positioning System: (1993) Commonly known by it’s initials GPS.
  • Self-balancing Personal Transporter: (2001) Commonly known by the brand name “Segway“.

21 Responses to “アメリカ独立記念日”

  1. Bryn July 8, 2010 at 7:52 pm #

    I forgot the whole point of my reply! There are big fireworks displays both nights of the festival (bigger than the 4th of July show), and usually a display at Showa Kinen Park at the same time, so from certain vantage points you can watch both shows simultaneously. It’s pretty nice.


    • tokyo5 July 8, 2010 at 11:55 pm #

      When we went to this festival, we didn’t stay for the fireworks show. The base is quite far from our house and if we stayed for the fireworks, we wouldn’t have gotten home til late.


  2. Bryn July 8, 2010 at 7:49 pm #

    Yeah, I don’t know why they did it on the 3rd, since the 5th and 6th were holidays as well.

    The FF is always 3rd weekend in August, so this year it’s Aug 21 – 22, they’ve been having the festival for over 40 years. The base is open to public those two days, last year they had about 170,000 people. There are tons of food vendors, games and entertaiment. They have a nice static display of military aircraft from all over the world. You should come this year!


    • tokyo5 July 8, 2010 at 11:53 pm #

      Thanks for the info.

      Actually I made an error in my answer to your question above. I misunderstood. I thought you were asking if I heard about this year’s “Friendship Festival” at the Yokota U.S. Air Force base.

      I didn’t know when it was this year…but I know about this festival. In fact, years ago we have been to both that one and the “Friendship Festival” on the Yokosuka U.S. Navy base.


  3. tokyo5 July 7, 2010 at 6:53 pm #

    >like most American shows, they’re pretty short

    Yeah, fireworks shows in Japan are quality.

    >we had ours on the 3rd.

    The “third” of July?
    Seems odd.

    >Have you ever heard about the Friendship Festival here at Yokota?

    No. When is it?


  4. Bryn July 7, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

    We do have fireworks at all the bases, along with a small festival, but like most American shows, they’re pretty short, nothing like Japanese shows, and this year we had ours on the 3rd. Monday and Tuesday were declared holidays at all the bases, so it was a nice, long 4-day weekend. Have you ever heard about the Friendship Festival here at Yokota?


  5. tokyo5 July 5, 2010 at 11:59 pm #

    By the way, do you know about the “Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest” in New York every 4th of July?

    Do you know Takeru Kobayashi (from Japan) and the American Joey Chestnut?
    (Click here to read a post I wrote about them).
    They are rivals every year at the hot-dog eating contest. No one else eats nearly as much as these two.
    Either Kobayashi or Chestnut always wins these contests.

    Well, this year Mr. Kobayashi wasn’t allowed to enter the contest because the organizers enforced a new rule that entrants must sign a contract that forbids entering other promoter’s eating contests. Mr. Kobayashi refused to sign that contract.
    So, after Joey Chestnut won the contest (mainly due to having no worthy competition), Kobayashi (who had been in the audience) rushed the stage and was arrested by NYC police for trespassing (onto stage) and resisting arrest.


    • In10Words aka "Galileo" July 6, 2010 at 12:20 pm #

      Oh, I saw it. I didn’t realize about the Kobayashi drama until a few hours later. This year’s contest just seemed boring without him. Chestnut had NO competition this year, and even 54 hot dogs still flew over the guys in second and third. He ate SIXTY-EIGHT last year. Dang.


      • tokyo5 July 6, 2010 at 11:38 pm #

        Yeah, no one can compete with Takeru Kobayashi or Joey Chestnut.

        The contest needs both of them!


  6. In10Words aka "Galileo" July 5, 2010 at 2:45 pm #

    I just love how awesomely random this list was. It just reminds me of this great quote by Homer Simpson: “Don’t forget, we invented computers, leg warmers, bendy straws, peel-and-eat shrimp, the glory hole AND the pudding cup!”


    • tokyo5 July 5, 2010 at 11:40 pm #

      >I just love how awesomely random this list was.

      I just choose the ones from the U.S. Patent list that caught my attention.


  7. Blue Shoe July 5, 2010 at 9:24 am #

    Nice post! Didn’t realize some of those inventions were American. Good to know.


    • tokyo5 July 5, 2010 at 11:31 pm #

      And many were invented much earlier than I imagined.
      The cell-phone and internet, for example, were both invented decades before they came into common use.

      And also, since you turned the “comments” function off on your “J-Word Play #12” post on your blog site, may I answer it here?


      The answer is 「千葉県」, right?


  8. Eric July 5, 2010 at 12:59 am #

    Since Canada day was three days ago, I though I would share our good stuff. Canada has way more awesome inventions, like:
    The telephone
    The electric wheel chair
    Peanut Butter
    Canola oil
    Standard time
    Alkaline batteries
    Electric ovens
    Electric synthesizers
    Instant replay (for sports)
    Air-Conditioned Railway Coach (Thank god for this during Japanese summers!)
    Automatic Postal Sorter
    Electric Car Heater
    Electric Light Bulb (the guys who invented it sold the patent to Edison. Not too smart)
    Garbage Bags
    Electric prosthetic hands
    Wireless radio and Radio Transmitted voice
    Washing machines
    And many more awesome things!


    • tokyo5 July 5, 2010 at 2:03 am #

      Thanks for commenting on my blog…it’s been a while!

      >The telephone

      Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, was a naturalized American.
      He moved to Canada but invented the phone while in Boston.


      Ice hockey, I believe is a Canadian game…but I’ve heard basketball, baseball and American football are U.S. games.

      >Peanut Butter

      I like peanut butter a lot…so “thank you” to Canada for that.

      You didn’t mention the food Canada is famous for…maple syrup.

      >Standard time

      How is “time” an invention?

      >Electric Light Bulb (the guys who invented it sold the patent to Edison. Not too smart)

      I’ve heard that many people claimed to have invented the light bulb and Edison either stole their idea or they taught him.
      Of course, he disputes them all.

      >Washing machines

      This is another one that the U.S. Patent Office lists as an American invention.


      By the way, I saw a poster in the train station for the 「仙台七夕祭り」 (“Sendai Tanabata Festival“) on August 6th – 8th.
      Are you gonna attend it?


      • Eric July 5, 2010 at 11:46 am #

        You’re wrong about a couple things.

        Alexander Graham Bell was living in Brantford, Ontario when he invented the telephone in 1874. He didn’t become a US citizen until 1882. He actually thought of the idea while he was at his family home.

        Basketball was invented by James Naismith who was born in Almonte, Ontario, Canada.

        Standard Time is a big invention. Without it we wouldn’t have time zones. Before Sir Sanford Fleming came up with the idea, every town had their clocks set to different times. Imagine trying to schedule an train when every town’s time is different.

        I should specify for the washing machine. The Beatty brothers of Fergus, Ontario invented the agitator washing machine. Which is the type washing machine we still use now.


        I won’t be attending the Sendai Tanabata festival. I’ll actually be on vacation in Europe.


      • tokyo5 July 5, 2010 at 11:37 pm #

        >You’re wrong about a couple things.

        Well, I was saying what I was taught.
        More important than whose correct or who invented what…I wonder why there are such disputes about the facts.

        >Standard Time is a big invention. Without it we wouldn’t have time zones.

        Oh, I misunderstood what you meant.
        Yes, official time and time zones are important…especially to the industrialized world.


  9. gigihawaii July 4, 2010 at 4:51 pm #

    What about the atomic bomb?
    Nuclear reactors?


    • tokyo5 July 4, 2010 at 5:55 pm #

      Oh yeah. Unfortunately, those were invented in America too.

      By the way, how do you celebrate Independence Day in Hawaii? The same as the mainland U.S.—fireworks shows and BBQs?

      What type of food is popular to BBQ in Hawaii?

      Japanese BBQ is quite different from American style.


      • gigihawaii July 5, 2010 at 4:16 am #

        Same like the mainland. However, David and I plan to just buy take-out Korean food tonight for dinner.

        Lunch will be a tortada from Taco Bell.

        We won’t be watching the fireworks, because we find them boring. If you have seen one fireworks, you’ve seen them all.


      • tokyo5 July 5, 2010 at 11:29 pm #

        >If you have seen one fireworks, you’ve seen them all.

        You should see a fireworks show in Japan.
        They’re better than the ones I’ve seen in America.


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