Home Essex County 7 Inventors of Pretty Cool Inventions From Essex County, NJ

7 Inventors of Pretty Cool Inventions From Essex County, NJ

by Olivia Fisher
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New Jersey is home to numerous inventors who have changed medicine, technology, and industries. From the creator of the Mason Jar to the world’s first movie studio, so much has happened here. Essex County is home to some pretty big names such as Thomas Edison and is where many more inventors have called home. Read on to learn about inventors from Essex County, New Jersey, and what they created.

inventors essex county nj

Allen B. DuMont (1901-1965)

Allen B. DuMont was an electronics engineer, scientist, and inventor who improved the cathode ray tube in 1931 for use in television receivers. In June 1938, his Model 180 television receiver became the first all-electronic television set sold to the public, and in 1946 he started the first television network to be licensed, the DuMont Television Network.

The Ivy at Chatham

Allen was born in 1901 in Brooklyn, New York and as a child, he suffered from polio. He was advised to swim to regain use of his legs and in 1914, his family moved to Montclair where there was an indoor pool at the YMCA. The pool still exists today and can be used by members. Allen graduated from Montclair High School in 1919 and attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. After he finished college he worked at Westinghouse Lamp Company in Bloomfield. A few years later, he started his own company, Allen B. DuMont Laboratories in the basement of his Upper Montclair home. Allen passed away in 1965 and is buried in Mount Hebron Cemetery in Upper Montclair. The television center at Montclair State University bears his name as a lasting marker of his legacy on not only the world but also the Montclair area.

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Arthur Nobile (1920-2004)

Arthur Nobile was a microbiologist best known for his isolation and reproduction of the steroids prednisone and prednisolone. He also authored 13 patents. Prednisolone is a glucocorticoid medication that is mostly used to suppress the immune system. It helps to decrease inflammation in conditions such as asthma, COPD, and rheumatologic diseases.

Arthur was born in Newark in 1920, grew up in Belleville, and later lived in Roseland and Caldwell. He attended the University of Southern California, Washington State University, and the University of California, Berkeley. He was inducted into the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame in 2000 and the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2007.

Erna Schneider Hoover (1926-)

Erna Schneider Hoover made key contributions to the system architecture of the first electronic telephone central office developed by Bell Labs. She was awarded one of the first patents issued for software. Erna was born in Irvington in 1926 and later raised in South Orange, graduating from Columbia High School. She received a B.A. from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. from Yale University. She also worked on the development of the Safeguard Anti-Ballistic Missile System and thus became the first woman to head a technical department. In 2008 she was inducted into the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame.



Hannibal Goodwin (1822-1900)

Hannibal Goodwin was born in Ulysses, New York in 1822. He studied at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and became an Episcopal preacher. He took a position at Christ Church in Bordertown from 1852 to 1854, at Saint Paul’s in Newark in 1859, and later served at congregations in California. In 1867, he returned to New Jersey and took a position as the fifth rector of the House of Prayer Church in Newark where he served until 1887.

Hannibal was interested in finding a non-breakable and clear substance that he could place images of his Biblical teachings. This would lead him to create celluloid film, a strip of transparent film with a plastic coating. Early movies were quite literally images strung together and moved quickly on a reel. Thus, celluloid film was the perfect material to use as it was both transparent and could move rather quickly while on a reel.

Hannibal set up a chemistry lab in the attic of the Plume House and sawed a five-foot hole in the roof for better sunlight. The Plume House is located at 407 Broad Street in Newark and can also be seen while traveling on Route 280. On May 2nd, 1887, he filed a patent for a “photographic pellicle and process of producing same … especially in connection with roller cameras.” The patent was granted on September 13th, 1898. During that time George Eastman had already begun production of roll-film using his own process.

In 1900, Hannibal set up the Goodwin Film and Camera Company, but before film production had started, he was involved in an accident and died on December 31st, 1900. After his death, his wife Rebecca Allen sold his patent to Anthony + Scovill Co. which became Ansco in 1907. The new holders of Hannibal’s patent produced a small amount of film based on his original patent and sued Eastman Kodak. After about a decade, Eastman Kodak was found guilty of patent infringement and awarded $5 million to Ancso, a sum that would be roughly $111 million today. Rebecca also received a small portion of the settlement money.

To this day, Hannibal’s contributions to the world and his legacy have been recognized in a variety of ways. The annual Newark International Film Festival recognizes his work with its staple award, the Hannibal Goodwin Award for Innovation in Filmmaking. In 1990 he was inducted into the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame and in 2011 he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Lisa Lindahl (1948-) and Polly Smith (1949-)

Lisa Lindahl and Polly Smith invented the Jogbra, the first sports bra, working alongside Hinda Miller. Lisa was born in Burlington, Vermont, and grew up in Montclair. She attended Montclair Kimberly Academy with Polly. Polly was also born in Glen Ridge and later lived in Montclair. In 2022, the three women were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Willis Haviland Carrier (1876-1950)

Willis Haviland Carrier was an engineer, best known for inventing modern air conditioning. Willis invented the first electrical air conditioning unit in 1902 and by 1915, had founded Carrier Corporation. The company specialized in the manufacture and distribution of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and was located on Frelinghuysen Avenue in Newark.

Willis was born in 1876 in Angola, New York, to parents Duane Williams Carrier and Elizabeth R. Haviland. He attended Cornell University and graduated in 1901 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. For over 20 years, Willis lived at 187 Rensselaer Road in Essex Fells. The home no longer stands today. In 1950, Willis passed away. In 1985, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, in 1998 was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century, and in 1999 he was inducted into the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame.

Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931)

Thomas Alva Edison is the most notable inventor with connections to Essex County. He developed a variety of devices related to mass communication, sound recording, and motion pictures and developed things like the phonograph and motion picture camera. His Black Maria, located in West Orange, became the world’s first film production studio in 1893. Today, the Thomas Edison National Historical Park preserved his Glenmont home and West Orange laboratory.

Thomas was born in 1847 in Milan, Ohio, and grew up in Port Huron, Michigan. He was the son of Samuel Ogden Edison and Nancy Matthews Elliot. His paternal grandfather, Samuel Ogden Edison was actually born in Essex County and many of his ancestors were early settlers of Essex County and North Jersey. Aside from the park in West Orange, his legacy also shines through at Thomas Edison State University in Trenton and in the Middlesex County community of Edison which was renamed in his honor in 1954. In 1973 Thomas became the first person inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame and in 1989 he was inducted into the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame.

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National Inventors Hall of Fame

The National Inventors Hall of Fame began in 1973 and honors American inventors. A museum is located in Alexandria, Virginia at 600 Dulany Street near both the Eisenhower Avenue and King Street-Old Town metro stops. The museum shares a building with the United States Patent and Trademark Office(USPTO). Over 600 people have been inducted, at least twelve of them with connections to Essex County. That includes all on this list besides Allen B. DuMont. Others honored from Essex County include Seth Boyden, John K. Northrop, Beatrice Alice Hicks, Lloyd Conover, and Edward Weston.

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