Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts. He was an inventor, scientist, politician, and author. His father was a soap and candle maker named Josiah Franklin. His mother was the second wife of Josiah whose name was Abiah Folger. Benjamin educated himself, which earned him honorary degrees from Harvard, Yale, Oxford in England, and the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He did not try to make any money with his inventions, but he thought of them as "gifts" to the public. He wrote in his autobiography "That, 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".
One of the most famous of Benjamin Franklin's inventions is the lightning rod. He started conducting experiments with electricity in 1747. He retired from the publishing business in about 1749 and began performing electrical experiments.
He discovered that lightning is a form of electricity in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1752 using a kite with a key attached to the end of it. He invented a lightning rod that would protect houses from lightning strikes during thunder and lightning storms using his ideas from previous work on electricity. France was the first country to use it.
Franklin penned several words while he was experimenting with electricity. Some of them are battery, charge, positive and negative, condenser, conductor, plus, minus, armature. He also laid the groundwork for the single fluid of electricity theory. The theory can be explained using a battery. It has a positive pole and a negative pole. The electricity in a battery will flow from positive to negative and negative to positive when it is charged.
Franklin improved the amount of heat that was generated from the fireplaces that were being used in 1742. His Franklin stove is a cast iron furnace that stands in the middle of the room and is designed to spread heat all over the room. He also came up with his own odometer. An odometer measures how far a person has traveled. Franklin invented an odometer to calculate how far he has been during his trips between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Boston, Massachusetts. He attached it to a wheel and the odometer used the circumference of the wheel and the number of revolutions to determine how far he has traveled.
One of the most useful inventions that Benjamin Franklin devised is the bifocals, an improvement to the "ordinary" glasses used in his time. The upper half of the lens of bifocals is used for distance, while the lower half is used for reading. He invented the glasses in 1784.
One of his earliest inventions is swim fins. He devised fins that fit the hands and would increase the speed of the swimmer when waved while swimming through the water. Shortly after that, he came up with fins that fit the feet. He invented a reaching device called the long arm to aid anyone who had troubles reaching anything he needed.
Franklin invented a musical instrument called a glass armonica in 1761. It was an improvement to the old method that was popular in England that used goblets filled with varying amounts of water to make the tunes.