Never in the history of the world has there been a mind half as creative as that of American hero, Benjamin Franklin. In this brief essay, I hope to explain just a few of his many inventions. An essay about all of his inventions would fill all the volumes of an encyclopedia, which was invented by Ben Franklin as a boy so that he would have something to sell door to door. Although his first encyclopedia was filled with what we now consider to be laughable errors, the basic concept and structure has remained the same centuries later. Here is a short excerpt:

"CABINS: In these structures of wood and mud the simple folk of the country make their homes. I can see a cabin from the window of my bedroom and sometimes the lady of the cabin may be viewed disrobing by the light of her oil lamp. If you put a flame next to a cabin it will burn mightily like a stack of dry grass or the fat of a slaughtered pig. Most cabins will burn only for an hour or so, but I have seen them burn for as long as an entire night. More experimentation is needed in this area."

As an adult Ben Franklin invented bifocals, the post office and the Franklin Stove. Bifocals allow people with different sight in their eyes to see plainly and well. The post office before Ben Franklin took over, would simply put letters and packages into barrels and throw them into great flowing bodies of water in the hope that they someday might reach their destination. After he took over, a much more exacting system of delivery was instituted involving guns, pirates and over 20,000 pigeons. The Franklin Stove was a fire contained in iron that would sit in the middle of any living space without danger to those who sat around it. It was often used to make pastries and entertain at children's birthday parties when decorated as a clown.

Franklin was also a musical genius. He invented the dulcimer, a favorite string instrument among hillbillies and street buskers, for his brother who was not smart enough to learn to play the guitar. Of course, Ben Franklin will forever remain most famous, musically, for his composition, "The Star Spangled Banner" which is still used to start baseball games and boxing matches. He was an accomplished rhythm guitarist and was in several famous musical groups of the revolutionary era. The Ben Franklin Five toured all thirteen states to standing room only audiences of screaming, fainting ladies.

As one of the best known publishers of his day, Franklin wrote and edited Poor Richard's Almanac. This informative annual was filled with facts and figures useful to the common man as well as the wit and wisdom of Ben himself. Some popular sayings that originated in the pages of this publication are, "A bird in hand is worth two in the bush," "I don't have a pot to piss in," and "In the end, the love you make is equal to the love you take."

To this day, Ben Franklin is most famous for the refinements he made to Thomas Alva Edison's telephone. Ben Franklin took the basic telephone of Edison and added features like the busy signal and call waiting. As Albert Einstein once said, "Edison was the mother of the telephone, but it was Franklin that fed it on his teat and raised it to be a man." In fact, Franklin was researching *69 when he died, coincidentally, on the first day of WW I.


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Copyright 2003 David Wahl

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