Featured Innovator: Margaret A. Wilcox

Featured Innovator Margaret A. Wilcox



Our 30th Featured Innovator!

Since starting our Featured Innovator series, we have highlighted 29 historical figures who have brought long lasting innovation to the supply chain industry. Inventors of computer programming; the line down the middle of the street; cement pavement; diesel fuel; and many other inventions that our industry still relies on (in some form) today. This series has allowed us to appreciate so many items we take for granted in our industry everyday.

lightbulbs on grey background Our 30 Featured Innovators have all brought new ideas to the world that changed the way we live our lives

Inventor of the Car Heater

Today is our 30th Featured Innovator! This innovator was one of the few mechanical engineers of her time: Margaret A. Wilcox. Wilcox was a gifted inventor who was always looking to make life easier and more efficient. She experimented constantly, hopping to come up with cool inventions that may change the way people live their lives.

picture of margaret a wilcox

Loved by Aristocrats of the 19th Century

Before Margaret’s invention, when you left the house to go on a trip in your car, you would dress for whatever the weather was outside. There was no heat in your car, so if it was a freezing cold, rainy day: you were not in for an enjoyable ride.Can you imagine having to go somewhere the morning after a snowstorm?As travel by car was gaining popularity, Wilcox emerged with the car heater.She created it so that air would be directed from over the engine of the car to warm the fingers of wealthy aristocratic travelers.Her invention eventually became a safety concern when they could not find a way to regulate the temperature: but her design still served as the basis or the modern-day car heater.


Margaret Wilcox fought for her inventions

It was against the law for women to file patents in their own names until the late 1800’s; before that, they would have to file under their father or husbands name. Margaret had filed previous patents under her husbands name; such as a combination clothes and dishwasher. However, in 1893 she was granted a patent for the car heater: in her own name.

a picture of a patent from 1893 The original patent filed by Margaret A. Wilcox for the Car Heater

Contribution to Supply Chain

Margaret A. Wilcox invented the first car heater- the one that would lay the foundation for all modern day car heaters.We can thank her for not only comfortable passenger transport, but for keeping drivers warm in their trucks while transporting goods all over the world.   

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