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 Peter Takes on History 

June 3, 1761

Inventors You Know But Don't

Last night I learned that today, the 3rd of June, 1761 is the birthday of the English Lieutenant-General who invented an anti-personnel weapon, a hollow cannonball filled with tiny balls, designed to explode and throw lead shot in every direction. I was intrigued by this man's name; Henry Shrapnel. So shrapnel wasn’t some Latin derivative, Shrapnel was a guy. I never knew that.
This discovery made me wonder what other famous inventions live on with the names of forgotten inventors. For example, we don’t bite into a ham and cheese on rye and think; John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, 1765. The word completely eclipsed the inventor.
And I’m not talking about inventions where the inventor’s name has certainly outlived the inventor but hey, we went to the dictionary kinda knowing there was a person behind the noun. Like Zeppelin OR Jacuzzi OR Braille. I never thought Zamboni might be from the latin “Zam” for ice and “boni” for resurfacing. I figured there’s a guy named Zamboni. Unfortunately, I couldn't confirm that because just this past February, a 42 year old Zamboni driver named David Ayres who was called into an NHL game as an emergency goalie. He makes seven saves and helps the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Toronto Mapleleafs. I Google Zamboni and David Ayres fills the first 14 pages of results!
So here are the winning words that I think fit the bill.
First Bowler. The hat. I guess I figured the name had something to do with the shape but no, it was designed in 1849 by the London hat-makers Thomas and William Bowler to be worn by mounted gamekeepers who were tired of having their top hats knocked off by low-hanging branches.
Leotard – Jules Léotard was a French acrobat who developed the art of trapeze. He invented the one-piece gym uniform to allow him freedom of movement and to show off his physique. The ladies loved him. So did the two British gentlemen who in 1867 immortalized Mr. Leotard with the hit song "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze.”
Derrick. The derrick was invented by Thomas Derrick. I’d like to say he was a brilliant English engineer but actually, he was an executioner, a hangman who devised the articulated boom and tower of the derrick to make his job easier.
Adolphe Sax was a Belgian musician and the son of two instrument builders who patented his invention, the saxophone, in 1846.
And finally, the Cardigan, named for James Brudenell, the 7th Earl of Cardigan, a proud and pretentious aristocrat and British Major General. As a matter of fact, it was Cardigan who actually led the famous “Charge of the Light Brigade.” When Cardigan returned to England he was hailed a hero and spent months enjoying honors and loudly recounting his valour. A knitted waistcoat similar to one Cardigan wore in the Crimea became very popular. Turns out, at the end of the war in Crimea returning soldiers testified that Cardigan was an incapable coward who after first leading the charge, turned high tail and escaped the ensuing battle. Near the end of his life the haughty nobleman had a change of heart and began speaking out against the upper-class privilege he enjoyed his whole life. He argued that the English system of purchased commissions should be abolished and soldiering left to competent soldiers.
He became a champion of military veterans and in one case, as a member of the house of Lords, Cardigan petitioned for recognition due the late General Henry Shrapnel!

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