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Research Paper

Nathan Fox
Period 3

There were many useful objects invented in Colonial America. Many of the inventions created during that time-period are still used quite frequently today, such as bifocals and the idea of Daylight Savings Time. Benjamin Franklin invented many things during this time. “The accomplishments of Benjamin Franklin are staggering. He seemed to live his life in direct answer to one of his own witty sayings: ‘If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing.” (S. Allen Founding Fathers: Uncommon Heroes, p.3). There were great inventors such as Benjamin Franklin and David Bushnell that saw problems and, through science, found an efficient way to fix them. Items and concepts invented in Colonial America not only solved the problems of that time period; they also inspired ideas for other more recent and advanced inventions.

The Franklin stove was the first known example of a safe fireplace. At the time, fireplaces were the main source of heat for the home. During the 1740’s, the Franklin stove was invented by Benjamin Franklin. People, before the Franklin stove was invented, would have open fireplaces in their houses. This consumed a lot of wood, it was a safety hazard, a lot of the heat would go up the chimney, and the houses smelled like smoke. “The new stove and reconfiguration of the flues allowed for a more efficient fire, one that used one quarter as much wood and generated twice as much heat.” (Mary Bellis, n. page). Recent fireplaces are much like the Franklin stove. Today, we use gas or electricity to save wood. People often use glass to protect our homes from the flames. Today’s fireplaces may not have existed if Franklin had never come up with the original idea.

The double-pointed needle, invented by Charles T. Wiesenthal during the 1750’s, led to the creation of the sewing machine. The double-pointed needle made sewing easier because the sewer did not have to turn the needle around with each stitch. Sewing then became much easier and faster. Later, “In 1830, Barthelemy Thimonnier of Saint-Etienne, France, used the double-pointed needle as the basis for the first sewing machine put to practical use.” (, n. page). If Wiesenthal had never created the double-pointed needle, the sewing machine would not exist today.

In 1760, Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals that are not only used commonly today; they also led to the creation of many variations of eyeglasses. “Bifocals are eyeglasses that have corrective lenses containing two different lens powers.” (, n. page). Bifocals have helped millions of people since they were invented. Also, the bifocals have led to the creation of trifocals, progressive lenses, sunglasses, etc; all of which are commonly used throughout America.

In 1761, Franklin invented a glass armonica that works a lot like a xylophone. Benjamin Franklin, regarding the armonica, said, “‘Of all my inventions, the glass armonica has given me the greatest personal satisfaction.’” (Usel, Benjamin Franklin. p.19). Benjamin Franklin created his own version of the armonica after listening to a concert of Handel's Water Music which was played on tuned wine glasses. Benjamin Franklin's armonica, created in 1761, was smaller than most armonicas and did not need water to tune it. Benjamin Franklin's design used glasses that had different sizes and thickness, which created the proper pitch without using any liquid. The glasses were laid side-by-side which made the instrument more compact and easier to play. The glasses were mounted on a spindle which was turned by a foot treadle. Though the invention wasn’t as important as Franklin’s other inventions, it was the one that he enjoyed the most.

Franklin's Armonica

In 1776, the first submarine-like invention, the Turtle, was put into use. It was created by David Bushnell. It was only seven and a half feet long, six feet tall, and about three feet wide. It was very crude compared to modern-day submarines: Its hull was composed of two wooden shells covered by tar. It submerged by allowing water into the hull and ascended by pushing water out through a hand pump. It was not a large submarine, and was manned and operated by only one person. “The submarine was designed as a naval weapon, and was meant to drill into a ship's hull and plant a keg of powder, which would be detonated after a certain duration.” ( This invention was much unlike modern submarines, but if it had not been invented, submarines would not exist today.

In 1784, Daylight Savings Time was proposed by Benjamin Franklin. He thought that people should use daylight productively and have it be light for the majority of the day. He thought that being awake while it was dark outside was pointless if one could avoid it. So, he proposed that our clocks should be set one hour forward in the fall and one hour backward in the spring, keeping the sunlight centered within the day. If Franklin had not proposed the idea, we would not be living by Daylight Savings Time today.

All of the inventions that were created during Colonial America greatly impact our lives today. Items and concepts invented in Colonial America have helped us by doing their jobs and by inspiring other inventors. Some of the inventions, such as Franklin’s bifocals, are still rather common today. Others, such as the Franklin stove, are not as commonly used now, but they have given other inventors ideas for revising. If we did not have some of the inventions from Colonial America, we would not have many of today’s more recent inventions.

Works Cited

Steven W. Allen Founding Fathers: Uncommon Heroes Mesa, Arizona: Legal Awareness Series, Inc., 2003

Benjamin Franklin Inventions Ed. Mary Bellis. 2004. 14 October 2004 ns.htm

Usel, T.M. Benjamin Franklin Minnesota, Capestone Press, 1996

Timeline of Invention 14 October 2004


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To view a diary, go to This is a fictional narrative based on the discovery by William Temple Franklin, at the age of 15, that he was the grandson of the world-famous Benjamin Franklin.

Labeled Diagram

Picture gotten from ki/Turtle_%28submarine%29


Franklin Stove

Double-pointed Needle




How much do you know about Colonial Inventions?

Question 1: Which of the following were created in Colonial America?

Question 2: Who Invented the double-pointed needle?

Question 3: What invention did Franklin say he got most satisfaction from?

Question 4: The Turtle was a type of:

Question 5: How much wood did the Franklin stove consume compared to an open fireplace?


I decided to create a web site because there is a lot more you can do with a computer a poster. A web site didn't have to include cutting,taping, making it look nice, etc. I also think that my web site goes along well with my paper.

First of all, I have the advertisement for the Franklin stove. This includes a picture of the stove and compares it to an open fireplace. The reader, by reading the ad, can see that the stove was a lot more efficient than a fireplace. The ad contains information about how the stove looks and how it saves resources. The ad helps the reader understand why the stove was such a great invention.

Then, I have labled diagram of the Turtle. This helps because it shows the reader exactly what the Turtle looked like and how it worked. The reader can see how small it was, where different things were located, and how the Turtle worked.

I then included a few pictures. The pictures show what some of the Colonial American inventions looked like. This helps the research paper because some inventions, such as the armonica, are hard to describe. The pictures of the inventions help the reader understand what the inventions looked like and how they function.

Finally, I have the game. The game goes well with the paper because it quizzes you about it. The reader can see how well they comprehended the paper. If the reader doesn't know the answer to a question, he/she knows that they should re-read a part of the paper that they may not have understood.

I think all of these things add a lot to my paper. They clarify points and show the reader how certain inventions worked or what they looked like. The web site can help the reader understand the paper better.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, you can e-mail me at