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Made in the U.S.A.

Published 8:59 AM ET, Mon March 16, 2015
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You know the ease of flipping a switch to light a room. For that, you can credit Thomas Edison's desire to create a safe and inexpensive electric lighting system to eliminate gas lights used in homes. Putting together a stellar team and securing financial backing, Edison was able to give the world a solution to its lighting problem. He demonstrated the first practical and successful incandescent lamp before the public in 1879 and received a patent early the next year. Edison's lighting system changed homes and communities forever. Underwood Archives/Getty Images
Richard Drew, a lab tech at 3M, was dropping off a product at a local body shop when he noticed workers were having an issue with the tape they used to paint car parts. When they removed the tape, paint would peel off, ruining the work they had done. In 1925, Drew created the solution. Masking tape was an adhesive that wouldn't damage the surface it was applied to when removed. Eric Rickman/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images
It might not be the fanciest way to prepare dinner, but the invention of microwave ovens made mealtimes more convenient. Percy Spencer created the contraption in 1945. A few decades later, they were being sold on a large scale, boosting the TV dinner industry. Today, there are more than 200 million microwave ovens in use. Does microwaving your food make it lose nutrients? Not if you cook it properly. Pictorial Parade/Getty Images
With automobile-related deaths on the rise, there was a need to test the effects of crashes on humans. After a failed trial of using cadavers, automakers looked to Samuel Alderson, who had developed similar testing prototypes of what they needed for the aerospace industry. In 1968, Alderson produced the first crash test dummy for use in auto testing. It was human-like, had joints and was flexible, allowing manufacturers to design effective safety features. The restraints that came into existence are estimated to have saved over 300,000 lives. Alan Band/Keystone/Getty Images
Spencer Silver, a scientist at 3M, created a unique adhesive. Arthur Fry, a product development researcher at the same company, decided to coat paper with it. Together, they gave us the ability to place, remove and replace notes on surfaces in a way that isn't permanent and doesn't damage what they are stuck to. Post-it Notes were introduced in 1980. Today, repositionable notes are one of the top best-selling office products in the U.S. 3M
Ever wonder why your keyboard looks like a word search puzzle? You've got Christopher Sholes to thank for the seemingly confusing system. But there was a reason for the scrambled letters. Sholes, who created the first practical typewriter, realized the levers jammed as commonly used letters were typed on a keyboard laid out in alphabetical order. To prevent this, he rearranged the letters into the QWERTY layout still used today. Fox Photos/Getty Images
Allowing childhood imaginations to run free since 1903, Crayola crayons originally sold for just a nickel a pack. The crayons were first produced in eight colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, brown and black. Harold M. Lambert/Lambert/Getty Images
Although GPS was originally created for military use to guide missiles to targets, today we use it for everything from getting directions on smartphones to search and rescue operations. The system uses 24 satellites, like the one shown here, that orbit the Earth as reference points to pinpoint locations. SSPL/Getty Images
If you've broken something and been able to piece it back together using Super Glue, give some props to Harry Coover. Working as a research chemist during World War II, Coover stumbled upon the sticky adhesive while trying to create something clear to use on precision gun sights. The New York Times says he gave up on it because it kept sticking to everything he touched. But he soon realized its potential. In addition to fixing your broken vases, the type of adhesive Coover discovered was used during the Vietnam War to stop bleeding and today is used for sutureless surgery. Fred Jewell/AP
Imagine driving through a busy city intersection in a free-for-all with folks speeding around in cars, on bicycles and on horses. Amid the chaos, all of a sudden a traffic light would switch to "stop," causing folks to slam on their brakes. The frantic stop-go method caused a lot of collisions. That's what it was like before Garrett Morgan patented his invention in 1923. Morgan's three-way traffic signal incorporated something besides the "stop" and "go" functions. For the first time, motorists saw a "caution" light, allowing time to slow down, which ended up preventing a lot of the collisions common in that era. Bowden/Getty Images
Before Joseph Glidden's invention, there wasn't a practical way for American ranchers to contain their cattle. Barbed wire solved that problem. It was easy to install and a pretty inexpensive fencing option. It made cattle stay within their property and kept trespassers away. Walter Sanders/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Inventor Walter Hunt twisted an ordinary piece of wire in his hands while worrying about how to pay off a $15 debt. That's when the idea for the improved safety pin design was born. Hunt added the clasp at the top to prevent it from opening and the twist at the bottom to act as a spring to hold it in place. He ended up selling the patent rights to pay off that debt. Harold M. Lambert/Lambert/Getty Images
It happened by accident in the late 1800s when brothers W. K. and Dr. John Harvey Kellogg were trying to create a new type of snack for patients at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan. Corn Flakes were born when the duo discovered that rolled wheat dough left out overnight created thin flakes. The patients liked them, and so did you, as you can still find the cereal in grocery stores today. SSPL/Getty Images
It seems like a thing of the past now, but in the 1930s, Philip Drinker's iron lung was in high demand. The respirator helped save countless lives amid the polio outbreak. Keystone/Getty Images
Can you believe it has been only a few decades since we were first introduced to the bar code? Now, the symbols are used to track everything from grocery store and ticket purchases to hospital patients and packages you ship. It is estimated that each day, 5 billion bar code scans take place worldwide. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
You know that thing you put your foot on to figure out which shoe size is right for you? Seems like a simple gadget, but it has been around only since the 1920s. Charles Brannock, a salesman at a shoe store, developed the device to improve on the traditional sticks used to measure foot size. It was a hit. The military even used it during the '30s and '40s to ensure that service members had properly sized footwear. The Brannock Device continues to be the industry standard tool today. Jacobsen/Three Lions/Getty Images
You've seen it at the ice rink and during hockey games. Frank Zamboni created the Zamboni ice resurfacing machine to cut the time it took to smooth the frozen stuff from an hour and a half down to just 15 minutes. The machine gained international attention when it was used during the 1960 Winter Olympics, and it continues to be used today. Denver Post/Getty Images
Before William Painter came up with the idea for crown bottle caps in 1892, carbonated beverages paid the price. They would go flat or leak due to unreliable seals. Painter worked with bottle manufacturers to standardize bottle necks. Coupled with his new caps, glass bottles of the fizzy stuff stayed fizzy and leakproof. More than 100 years later, crown caps are still the standard today. Jagdish Agarwal/Dinodia Photos/Getty Images
When rubber was in short supply during World War II, Otis Ray McIntire was tasked with finding a substitute that could be used as an insulator. When he accidentally created the light and flexible Styrofoam, he realized it was a good insulator, was water-resistant and was pretty inexpensive to manufacture. The product is used today as a building material and in food containers, though those uses are starting to be phased out in some parts of the country. Denver Post/Getty Images
Why did we need another type of screw head? Henry Phillips realized the need for a screw that centered itself in a slot, eliminating the trickiness that came along with aligning a traditional screw head. This would be especially useful in factory settings where power tools were used to perform repetitive tasks, like on automobile assembly lines. It took some convincing, but when Phillips got General Motors to agree to use his screw in the production of the 1936 Cadillac, automakers were convinced because it sped up production time. Within a few years, Phillips head screws were commonplace. Shutterstock