Famous Inventions of the 1960s

By Laurence Girard

More than 70 million children from the post-war baby boom entered young adulthood in the 1960s, and John F. Kennedy began his presidency at the beginning of the decade. New countries were emerging around the world and 17 African colonies gained their independence. Inventions sprouted up throughout the entire decade in the United States.

Valium

Valium was invented by Leo Sternbach in 1963 and rapidly became the most commonly sold pill in the world, according to Forbes.com. Sternbach was a research chemist born in Austria-Hungary and worked for the international drug company Hoffmann-LaRoche in New Jersey. Sternbach died in October 2005 at the age of 97. Valium is used to relieve anxiety, seizures, muscle spasms and agitation.

Audio Cassette

The Phillips Co. of the Netherlands invented the first compact audio cassette on March 5, 1962. The company used high-quality polyester 1/8-inch tape produced by the German chemical company BASF. The cassette had a recording speed of 1.7 inches per second and a playback speed of 8 inches per second.

Kevlar

Kevlar was invented in 1965 by Stephanie Kwolek, a DuPont research scientist. Kwolek invented Kevlar by spinning fiber from liquid crystalline solutions. DuPont began producing Kevlar commercially in 1971. Kevlar was originally developed to replace steel found in radial tires. Kevlar is used today in bullet-proof vests, bicycle tires, canoes, tennis racquets, tank armor, racing sails and several other applications.

Computer Mouse

Douglas Engelbart of Stanford Research Center invented the computer mouse in 1963. Engelbart was born in 1925 on a small farm near Portland, Oregon. He served in the Navy as a radar technician before completing his electrical engineering degree at Oregon State University. The first computer mouse was carved out of wood and had two wheels mounted on the bottom instead of the ball found in modern computer mouses.

ATM

The first ATM started dispensing cash on Sept. 2, 1969, six weeks after Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. Don Wetzel is generally credited with the idea for the modern ATM machine, according to Wired.com. The idea for an automated teller machine came to Wetzel while standing in a long line at a bank in Dallas. As of March 2011, there are more than 370,000 ATMs in the United States.

Arpanet

Arpanet is commonly referred to as the grandfather of the Internet and was the first widespread network of heterogeneous computers. Arpanet began in 1969 and was started by a small team of researchers from the U.S. Department of Defense and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Arpanet’s intended use was to provide fast communication between computers and was originally funded by the U.S. government.