5 Popular Invention Mashups


The humble lawnmower might not be the sexiest example of a technology mashup, but it's certainly one of the most ubiquitous. Originally a job reserved for goats and sheep, the gobbling up of grass was taken over by humans around 1830. That's around the time when an English engineer named Edwin Budding, while working in a textile mill, decided that the technology used to trim fabrics (known as carding) could also be applied to grass. Budding's lawnmower used a series of gears to transfer power from the wheels, on which the contraption rolled, to a cylinder that snipped the grass.

While ingenious, the machine was quite heavy. This led inventors to try to develop other means of rolling blades over a lawn. Horses wearing special boots to protect the grass were employed, and steam power was hitched to the wheels near the end of the 19th century. But the true breakthrough in American lawnmower history came in 1919, when a colonel named Edwin George mashed up two technologies: the internal combustion engine and the rotary push mower.

When engines got small, light and powerful enough in the 1930s, the blades were shifted from their cylinder position. They were redesigned to spin horizontally, giving shape to the machines that rumble across backyards today.

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