Between running a print shop, engineering the U.S. postal system, starting America's first lending library and helping sow the seeds of the American Revolution, Ben Franklin also found time to draw up a vast collection of new devices. To this day, the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, stands as an inspiration to curious minds and a tribute to clever innovations.
Franklin saw his inventions as gifts to the public and never patented a single one. "As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously," he wrote in his autobiography. So, what did Benjamin Franklin invent?
Franklin's inventions are all models of practicality. It's one thing for a team of engineers to design the Segway, but quite another for an elderly, 18th-century man to think of throwing a set of stairs on a library chair. Most of the items in this list likely had fellow colonists slapping their foreheads and exclaiming, "Why didn't I think of that?"