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Posted on April 6, 2020

Life-Changing Innovations From France

We know some pretty tasty things have come from France that we just love! But did you know that some pretty incredible innovations originated in France that have changed lives? Today we’re going to highlight life-changing innovations that were created in France!

Braille

At the age of three, Louis Braille had struck himself in the eye with one of his father’s tools, causing an infection that spread to both eyes. By the age of five, the boy had lost his vision permanently. 

However, Braille was able to attend one of the first schools for the blind, Royal Institution for Blind Youth in Paris. He had become frustrated with the raised lettering system used to teach the blind to read. However, when Braille learned of the night-time coding system devised by Captain Charles Barbier of the French Army, he became inspired to simplify the dot and dash system to something more streamlined.

At age 15, Braille had found a way to use six dots instead of the complicated system of Barbiers and was able to devise 63 patterns that could be read at the tip of a finger. In 1829, Braille extended his system into math and music. However, the public was still unsure of Braille’s system, so those who wanted to learn it had to do so on their own.

It wasn’t until 1854, at the push from blind students that Braille’s system was put into practice at the Royal Institution for Blind Youth.

Refrigerator

Today, almost every household has a refrigerator– some even tell you what grocery items you are running low on. But did you know that this invention was created to keep wine cold?

French priest, physicist and inventor Father Marcel Audiffren had created a hand-crank device for cooling liquids, like wine, for the monks at the monastery. Audiffren received U.S. Patents #551,107 in 1895 and #898,400 in 1908. 

In 1903, European models based on his designs were first sold in the United States. Then, General Electric purchased his patents and was being sold in 1911 for double the price of the average car at the time.

Sewing Machine

When we think of the sewing machine, the name Isaac Merrit Singer comes to mind. But did you know he was not the original inventor of the device? French tailor, Barthelemy Thimonnier had designed a machine that could chain-stitch which made it a largely practical device. 

In 1830, he received a patent to mass-produce the machine, even opening up a factory. However, in 1831, some 200 rioting tailors destroyed the machines out of fear that Thimonnier’s device would put them out of business.

Pasteurization

French chemist and microbiologist, Louis Pasteur was a man of many great innovations. Pasteur is credited with proving germs cause disease; developing vaccines for anthrax and rabies and creating the process of pasteurization.

Pasteur had been studying fermentation when in 1854, he had accepted a position at the University of Lille, where he was tasked to find out why some casks of fine vinegar were spoiling.

Studying both spoiled and unspoiled vinegar under a microscope, he found that living yeast was causing the vinegar to ferment while the good vinegar also contained healthy yeast.

He deduced that the microbes of the living yeast could be killed off by boiling the liquid however, it altered the taste. After much study and experimentation, using controlled heat then rapid cooling, the taste could be saved while killing off the microbes. This process is now known as pasteurization.

The More You Know With Le Manhattan Bistro

We hope you enjoyed these French innovations that have changed the world. Check out our blog for more topics!

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