Sur­pris­ing In­no­va­tions from World War I

Reader's Digest - - Contents - By Ja­copo della quer­cia

1 Day­light Sav­ing Time

The idea of fid­dling with the clock has been around since an­tiq­uity, but it was not un­til World War I that gov­ern­ments around the globe of­fi­cially adopted day­light sav­ing time. Why? To con­serve re­sources such as fuel and ex­tend the work­day for the war ef­fort. The Ger­mans and Aus­tro­hun­gar­i­ans did it first, in 1916, and the Al­lies fol­lowed shortly af­ter. To clear up con­fu­sion about the con­cept, the Wash­ing­ton Times used a comic strip to ex­plain the first “spring for­ward” in the United States in 1918.

2 Wrist­watches

Time­pieces known as wristlets were sold dur­ing the 19th cen­tury. How­ever, they failed to take off with men un­til World War I demon­strated their su­pe­ri­or­ity to pocket watches in bat­tle— par­tic­u­larly for mil­i­tary lead­ers who were co­or­di­nat­ing pre­ci­sion at­tacks. By the war’s end, an en­tire gen­er­a­tion of young men ei­ther had a wrist­watch or wanted one for Christ­mas.

3 Blood Banks

Blood trans­fu­sions date back to the 1600s, but doc­tors rarely per­formed them be­fore World War I, when they were ac­com­plished by trans­fus­ing blood di­rectly from one per­son to an­other. Capt. Oswald Robert­son, a U.S. Army Re­serve doc­tor con­sult­ing with the British army, rec­og­nized the need to stock­pile blood be­fore ca­su­al­ties oc­curred. In 1917, he helped es­tab­lish the first blood bank on the west­ern front.

4 Hol­ly­wood

With so much of Europe in the line of fire, the Euro­pean film in­dus­try had to scale back dra­mat­i­cally. That opened the door for the Amer­i­cans. Hol­ly­wood was still in its in­fancy, but its stu­dios soon made for­tunes pro­duc­ing wartime pro­pa­ganda. The war it­self pro­vided ma­te­rial for count­less movies in the 1920s and ’30s, in­clud­ing Wings, the win­ner of the first Acad­emy

Award for Best Pic­ture.

5 Trench Coats

While Charles Mac­in­tosh in­vented weath­er­proof out­er­wear about a cen­tury be­fore World War I, Burberry and Aquas­cu­tum mod­ern­ized the de­sign to keep British of­fi­cers warm and dry. To­day, many trench coats (yes, that’s why they’re called that) come with flaps and rings that were orig­i­nally cre­ated for se­cur­ing pis­tols, map cases, and even swords.

6 Zip­pers

Orig­i­nally known as a slide fas­tener, the zip­per wasn’t masspro­duced un­til World War I, when the U.S. mil­i­tary re­quested them for flight suits and money belts, which were a ne­ces­sity for

U.S. sailors be­cause their uni­forms didn't have pock­ets.

7 Women’s Suf­frage

Suf­frag­ists had won vic­to­ries through­out the west­ern United States by 1917, but their sup­port for and in­volve­ment in the war ef­fort ad­vanced their cause con­sid­er­ably. With the en­dorse­ment of Pres­i­dent Woodrow Wil­son, the Nine­teenth Amend­ment to the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion was rat­i­fied in 1920.

8 Dis­pos­able San­i­tary Pads

Made from wood pulp, the Kim­berly-clark com­pany’s “cel­lu­cot­ton” be­came a sta­ple in mil­i­tary hospi­tals as a more ab­sorbent and

less ex­pen­sive al­ter­na­tive to cot­ton bandages. When the war ended, the com­pany’s ex­ec­u­tives learned that Army nurses had used cel­lu­cot­ton as san­i­tary nap­kins, and an af­ford­able new prod­uct was born.

9 Plas­tic Surgery

World War I left thou­sands of men scarred and maimed. British army sur­geon Harold Gil­lies and his col­leagues per­formed more than 11,000 oper­a­tions, mostly on sol­diers suf­fer­ing from fa­cial wounds from gun­shots. Gil­lies was knighted for his ef­forts and ul­ti­mately be­came known as the fa­ther of mod­ern plas­tic surgery.

10 Drones

It’s hard to imag­ine drones in the skies just 15 years af­ter the Wright broth­ers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Nev­er­the­less, when the U.S. Navy tested the first Cur­tis N-9 Aerial Tor­pedo on March 6, 1918, un­manned air­craft be­came a re­al­ity. (Alas, the na­tion would have to wait al­most a cen­tury for drones that could de­liver pizza.)

11 Soy Dogs

In 1918, in Cologne, Ger­many, Mayor Kon­rad Ade­nauer ap­plied for a patent for his novel way of pre­serv­ing meat: mix­ing sausage with soy flour. Although not strictly vege­tar­ian, the method had stay­ing power. Soy prod­ucts are now a multi­bil­lion­dol­lar in­dus­try in the United States alone.

12 Pi­lates

Af­ter World War I broke out, cir­cus per­former Joseph Hu­ber­tus Pi­lates was in­terned for be­ing a Ger­man na­tional. He used the time to per­fect an ex­er­cise rou­tine he’d de­vel­oped that in­volved rig­ging springs to hos­pi­tal beds, ac­cord­ing to the Pi­lates Foun­da­tion. To­day, mil­lions of peo­ple prac­tice Pi­lates in stu­dios around the world.

13 Mod­ern Pass­ports

In hopes of restor­ing tourism through­out Europe, the League of Na­tions is­sued guide­lines for uni­form pass­ports in 1920. The stan­dard doc­u­ments were to in­clude a cover em­bossed with the is­su­ing coun­try’s name and coat of arms—the same ba­sic look they have to­day in most ev­ery coun­try, in­clud­ing the United States.

il­lus­tra­tion by Serge Bloch

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.