Spring has sprung (there are some crocuses around Darien braving the snow squalls) so of course, our thoughts turn to... actual springs? Well, maybe not, but why not? Google Patent Search offers alist of American patents for springs
dating back to 1783. One of my favorites is for thespring wheel
, an improvement to wheels meant to replace the tire.
A more successful use of springs is the Slinky, which was invented by accident by an engineer looking for ways to stabalize instruments on boats during World War II. His wife saw the potential for a toy, dubbed it the Slinky and the rest is history.
For more insight into how the small items of our daily life came to be, check out The Evolution of Useful Things or Small Things Considered, both by Henry Petroski. Forks, paper clips and toothbrush handles all come from somewhere and Petroski is happy to tell us their stories.
Photo by Flickr user nickwheeleroz.