Volume One Special Coverage: Pulling Together While Staying Apart

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7 Inventions for Which You Can Thank Wisconsinites

Ty Randerson

Wisconsinites can make some pretty crazy innovations when we put our cheesey minds to it, just look around during a Packers tailgate at Lambeau. What we sometimes forget is that we also make a lot of really amazing things of which the whole world is pretty fond. Such as ...

1. Kindergarten

That's right, Wisconsin is home to the first American kindergarten. Thanks to German native Margarethe Schurz, kids in Watertown, WI could start attending kindergarten in 1856. The downside? They had to learn how to spell things like "karlshuegel" (Carl's Hill in German) which is way harder than learning your name.

2. Cheesy Road Salt

Leave it to the Dairy State to incorporate cheese into their road clearing. In 2014 a few cities started using a cheese brine in addition to road salt to help clear the roads. The drawback? Apparently it doesn't smell the greatest.

3. The Keyboard

When the typewriter was first put into production the keyboard was laid out in alphabetical order and as the story goes, typists would hit certain letters that were side by side in quick succession and the levers would jam. That's where a Wisconsin politician by the name of Christopher Latham Sholes comes in. In 1873 he created the QWERTY keyboard layout we're familiar with today. We don't need to worry about levers getting jammed anymore, but old habits die hard.

4. Splinter Free Toilet Paper

The first official toilet paper came from China in 1391 but toilet paper more like what we use today was invented in 1879 by the Scott Paper Company in Philadelphia. In their simple paper making process Scott and other companies were using, small splinters usually made it into the packaged product. In 1953 Northern Tissue used a process called linenizing to make toilet paper softer and splinter free (hopefully making them national heroes).

5. Circuses!

Okay. not exactly. But the famous Ringling Brothers started in the great state of Wisconsin, and even today they're one of the biggest names in the industry, so we're taking partial credit for this one.

6. American Girl Dolls

The second highest selling doll of all time was invented in Middleton, WI by the Pleasant Company in 1992. Inventor Pleasant Rowland saw a gap in the market between infant dolls and the popular Barbie, so she created a doll designed to be a young girl. The line was later expanded to include historical figures as well as books, movies, soundtracks, and magazines.

7. The Supercomputer

Chippewa Valley's own Seymour Cray changed the world in 1975 when he created the world's first supercomputer. Three years earlier he opened Cray Research Inc. in Chippewa Falls.

Lasker Jewelers
Lasker Jewelers

Pulling Together Partners

The following organizations are currently supporting Volume One’s work in the community during the pandemic:

Lasker Jewelers

L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, Eau Claire

Downtown Eau Claire Inc DECI

University of Wisconsin Eau Claire

Pablo Group

Wisconsin Independent Network

Middle West Management

Bon Iver

Royal Credit Union

Silver Spring

Evergreen Surgical

Charter Bank

Chippewa Valley Technical College

The Murty Henriksen Family

The Larry and Marie Past Family

The Dan and Kerry Kincaid Family

Anton and Rae Schilling-Smets

Brady and Jeanne Foust

If your organization is interested in supporting Volume One during this difficult time, nick@volumeone.orgcontact us.