He was known as the “Wizard of Menlo Park,” and for good reason.

Thomas Edison invented many devices in New Jersey that changed the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, the telegraph and, of course, the electric light bulb.

But it turns out, plenty of other things were also invented in the Garden State, not just by Edison.

  • Air Conditioning
  • The bar code
  • Baseball
  • Boardwalks
  • Bosco
  • Bubble wrap
  • Canned condensed soups
  • The cell phone
  • Color TV
  • Drive-in theaters
  • The electric guitar
  • The golf tee
  • The ice cream cone
  • M & M’s
  • The Monopoly board game
  • Radar
  • Saltwater taffy
  • The solar cell
  • The steam locomotive
  • The submarine
  • TV dinners
  • The vacuum cleaner
  • The vibrating bed

Even the dreaded traffic circle was invented in Jersey.

In 1804, Col. John Stevens built the first steam boat that navigated the Hudson River. He then invented the steam locomotive in 1825.

“I think this area seemed to attract people who were interested in problem solving,” said Leah Loscutoff, the head of Archives & Special Collections at the Samuel Williams Library at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken.

She pointed out a couple of hundred years ago transportation was a major issue, with the trip from Philadelphia to New York taking 30 hours, so lots of people were working on different ideas to move people and goods.

“New Jersey seemed to have a lot problem solvers who were always looking for ways to improve the environment for people and for cities,” she said.

“It’s having that mindset of just being able to imagine a future and future improvements that don’t yet exist.”

Loscutoff added New Jersey’s invention history is extremely impressive and “people should be extremely proud to come from such an inventive area where so many engineers and inventors were able to improve our lives on a daily basis.”

When asked what these inventors might be working on if they were alive and living in Jersey today, she said “more affordable housing, better transportation and less traffic.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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