September 04, 2015 Slideshows » Arts

15 Inventors And Inventions With San Antonio Ties 

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Liquid Paper

The first typing correction fluid was invented by Bette Nesmith Graham, who was raised in San Antonio and graduated from Alamo Heights High School. In 1951, she was a divorced, single mother working as a typist at a Texas bank. She invented liquid paper in her kitchen to hide her mistakes. Her invention spawned the Liquid Paper corporation, which was sold to Gillette for $47.5 million. Not to shabby. Her son, by the way, is Michael Nesmith of The Monkees. He went to SAC. [Source]

Clumping Cat Litter

William Mallow, a polymer chemist at the Southwest Research Institute, is credited with the invention of Scoop Away Clean clumping cat litter. He also helped perfect the Liquid Paper formula at Bette Nesmith Graham's request. Mallow was involved with the creation of the rubber coating for the animatronic dinosaurs at Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom, and he worked on tiles for the space shuttle. [Source]

Balloon Expandable Stent

In the mid-1980's, Julio Palmaz, a doctor of vascular radiology at University of Texas Health Science Center, received a patent for the balloon expandable stent, which issued to unclog blocked vascular vessels during coronary surgery. Though not the first stent, his version significantly reduced restenosis, scar tissue growth blocking blood flow. Palmaz and his family now own a winery in Napa Valley. [Source]

Youtz-Slick Lift Slab Construction

Tom Slick was a Texas oil man. When he was not out searching for the yeti, he found time to establish the Texas Biomedical Research Institute,the Southwest Research Institute and the Mind Science Foundation. His most famous invention is the lift-slab construction method, which revolutionized construction by reducing to cost to build multi-story concrete buildings. In a nutshell, the method begins with stacking concrete floors on top of one another, and using hydraulic jacks to raise each floor to the desired level. Northup Hall at Trinity University was the first building that utilized Slick's method during construction. The Tower of the Americas also used this method. His co-inventor was Philip Youtz, a New York based architect. [Source]

Magnetic Resonance Scanning Machine (MRI)

Dr. Raymond Damadian, is the inventor of the first magnetic resonance scanning machine. He received the MRI patent in 1974 and made his first cancer diagnosis on a patient using the machine in 1977. Some of his early research into potassium ions in living cells — research that led to his MRI invention — was conducted in San Antonio when he was stationed at Brooks Air Force Base. He served as a medical specialist in the School of Aerospace Medicine-Physiological Chemistry Section during the Vietnam War. Damadian was the center of controversy in 2003 when he was not awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the MRI alongside that year's prize winners, Paul Lauterbur and Sir Peter Mansfield. Some suggest he was not given the award because he is a young earth creationist. Although he was denied the Nobel Prize, he has many honors, including the distinction of being a National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee. [Source]

Post-It Notes

Sorry Romy and Michele, you didn't invent Post-its. That distinction to goes to Art Fry of 3M Corporation. But Fry couldn't have invented the ubiquitous office product without the adhesive on the back of the paper. That was invented by 3M Senior chemist and San Antonio-native Spencer SIlver in 1968, 12 years before Post-its were commercially introduced. [Source]


Robert Cade led the research team that invented the sports drink Gatorade while professor of medicine and nephrology at the University of Florida. The drink was developed to tackle extreme dehydration for the players of Florida Gators football team with. This Gatorade commercial gives you a brief rundown about the sport drink's creation. Cade initially offered his patents and rights to drink to the University of Florida, but the university refused. When Gatorade became a wildly successful product, the university sued for sales royalties. After months of legal wrangling, Cade and the University of Florida made an amicable financial settlement. Cade, who was born in 1921, is a San Antonio-native. He graduated Brackenridge High School in 1945. [Source]

The Two-Lace Shoes System (Kaepa Shoes)

If you're a child of the 80's or a former cheerleader you should already be familiar. Named one of the 50 greatest sneakers of all time by Complex, San Antonio's Kaepa Shoes, Inc. made a name for itself for designing patented athletic footwear with two sets of laces. Founder and inventor Tom Adams, a former priest, came up with the idea after one of his shoelaces broke when he was re-lacing during a tennis match. From its inception in 1975, the company was plagued with financial trouble until it was bought out in the mid-80s. Last year, Adams got back in the business last year with Fit {+2} Shoes. [Source]

Datapoint 2200

Datapoint 2200, produced by San Antonio-based Computer Terminal Corporation (CTC), is often credited as the first personal desktop computer. Yes, the world's first personal desktop computer. The historic invention was unveiled in 1970 with General Mills purchasing the first devices. The product was so successful that CTC founders Phil Ray and Gus Roche changed the company name to Datapoint Corp. The Datapoint 2000's monumental significance in the history of computer technology is frequently dismissed in order to maintain the myth that Silicon Valley is the birthplace of the PC. But that's simply not true... [Source]

Intel's 8008 Microprocessor

So why is Datapoint Corp. (formerly CTC) frequently forgotten? And how come San Antonio is not a technology hub on par with Silicon Valley? That's because of a fateful decision made by CTC management against the wishes of founder Gus Roche. Intel's 8008 is the world's first CPU for personal desktop computers. The 8008 was intended to be the CTC 1201. Conceived and designed in 1969 by CTC employees Victor Poor and Harry Pyle, the 1201's design contains the underlying architecture of what would become Intel's x86 series of microprocessors, which power most modern personal computers. The 1201 was initially intended to power the Datapoint 2000, but CTC didn't have the capabilities to produce the chip on its own, so it approached Texas Instruments and Intel. Texas Instruments dropped out after its initial chip failed to perform well. Meanwhile, Intel could not produce the 1201 in time for the Datapoint 2000's launch. It eventually delivered a chip, but CTC, now Datapoint Corp., moved on to producing the Datapoint 2200 II and considered the chip obsolete. Datapoint Corp. management, choosing to abandon the CTC 1201, sold the intellectual property rights to Intel for next to nothing. It's described as one of the worst decisions in modern business history. Intel minimizes San Antonio-based Datapoint's contribution to its success in its own corporate history. [Source]

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What other major advancements in computer technology was the now-defunct Datapoint Corp. responsible for? In addition to the precursors to the personal computer and modern microprocessor, Datapoint Corp. also developed the first commercial local area network (or LAN), similar to ethernet. Datapoint's ARCnet, has been described as the "Rodney Dangerfield of network area computing." The idea was conceived by Henry Pyle, who was also involved with the CTC 1201. Its chief architect was John Murphy (pictured left) and its software developer was Gordon Peterson (pictured). Early in the project's development, ARCnet was called "internet." ARCnet could have overshadowed ethernet, but Datapoint Corp. refused to make it an IEEE Standard. [Source]

The Camera Phone

David Monroe, CEO of the San Antonio sureillance company e-Watch Corp., pioneered video conferencing technology in the 70's at Datapoint Corp. His work propelled him to open his own company Image Data Corp. where he invented the Photophone, a desktop devices that transmitted photographs via phone lines. In the 90's he was awarded the patent for the first camera cell phone. So today's selfie-obsessed culture is attributable to San Antonio, one can say. Much of Monroe's innovations were developed for military and covert operations and are not public. He is trying to attain funding for a San Antonio technoloy museum. [Source]

Instant Mashed Potatoes

Dr. William C. Davis, professor of chemistry and chair of the natural science department at St. Philip’s College, is a prolific chemist, researcher and one of the most famous African-American inventors. He's perhaps best known as the "inventor" of instant mashed potatoes. Although he didn't invent the side dish, his doctoral research into potatoes led him to discover a chemical process that improved its consistency and texture. His work also lead to improvements in potato chips and soft serve ice cream. He also co-created the formula that gives Dasani water an appealing taste. Yes, the man improved water. Davis is one of U.S. foremost African-American inventors. [Source]

Clear Ice

The Ferdinand Carré absorption machine, which absorbed heat using ammonia to make ice, is a French invention, but Daniel Livingston Holden improved the device here in San Antonio by installing steam coils and using distilled water to create clear ice. During the Civil War, ice supplies were cut off to the south, but Holden's ingenuity, along with Ferdinand Carré comtemporary Andrew Mühl, helped build a thriving machine-made ice industry in San Antonio. [Source]

Barbed Wire

In 1876, barbed wire became a popular and highly lucrative product after John Warne Gates, an early barbed wire maker, demonstrated its use in Alamo Plaza. [Source]


Liquid Paper

The first typing correction fluid was invented by Bette Nesmith Graham, who was raised in San Antonio and graduated from Alamo Heights High School. In 1951, she was a divorced, single mother working as a typist at a Texas bank. She invented liquid paper in her kitchen to hide her mistakes. Her invention spawned the Liquid Paper corporation, which was sold to Gillette for $47.5 million. Not to shabby. Her son, by the way, is Michael Nesmith of The Monkees. He went to SAC. [Source]


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