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16 Things Invented or Introduced in Los Angeles County

Also see: Food & Beverages Straight Out of Los Angeles (and Pasadena)

Tiki Pop Culture

Introduced in 1933 by Ernest "Donn" Grantt, at his Polynesian-themed restaurant Beachcomber Café (later Don the Beachcomber) at 1727 North McCadden Place in Hollywood, Tiki pop culture was appropriated from Polynesian carvings and mythology. Gantt is further credited with inventing the tropical drink genre.

Tiki Decorations

Tiki Decorations. Los Angeles Almanac Photo.

The Impact Water Sprinkler

Developed in 1933 by Glendora citrus grower Orton Englehart in 1933. Later manufactured and marketed as Rain Bird sprinklers.

Impact Water Sprinkler

Impact water sprinker head. Photo by J.J. Harrison via Wikimedia Commons

The Electric Guitar

Developed in 1937 by George Beauchamp, founder of National Stringed Instrument Corp., as the Rickenbacher A-22.

Electric Guitar

Electric guitar. Photo by Piro4D via Pixabay.com

The Eames Lounge Chair Wood

Created by Charles and Bernice “Ray” Kaiser Eames in Venice in 1946. The simple plywood chair profoundly impacted 20th century American furniture design.

Eames Wood Chair

Lounge Chair, Model LCW, Bequest of William F. Stern, courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Advanced Spy Plane and Stealth Fighter

Developed from 1955 through 2006 by Lockheed Advanced Development Projects (Skunk Works) in Palmdale. These include the U-2 spy plane (1955), the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance plane (1964), the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter (1981), Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor stealth fighter (1997), and the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth multi-role fighter (2006).

F-22 Raptor Stealth Fighter

F-22 Raptor Stealth Fighter. Photo by Senior Airman Kaylee Dubois, courtesy U.S. Air Force Photos

The Modern Theme Park

Developed by Walt Disney at his Burbank Studios, the result was Disneyland opening in Anaheim in 1955.

Disneyland Entrance

Entrance to Disneyland in Anaheim. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith, courtesy Library of Congress.

The Manufactured Skateboard

Although skateboards were privately made and used since at least the 1940s, the first manufactured skateboards were made in the mid-1950s by Bill Richards of Val Surf Shop in Valley Village. He ordered sets of roller skate wheels from a Chicago roller skate maker and affixed them to rectangular wooden boards in the back of his shop. His skateboards were meant for surfers to practice surfing skills by “sidewalk surfing” on dry ground.

Los Angeles Skateboarder

Skateboarder in Venice, Los Angeles. Photo by AshLM via Pixabay.com

The Modern Hula Hoop

Developed in 1957 by Arthur K. "Spud" Melin and Richard Knerr, founders of the Wham-O manufacturing company in San Gabriel. Hula Hoops were said to be inspired by the Native American Hoop Dance.

Girl With Hula Hoop, 1958

A girl with a hula hoop, 1958. Photo by George Garrigues, shared via Wikimedia Commons.

The Technology Behind the Internet

In 1959, Paul Baran of the Rand Corp. in Santa Monica developed Packet switching, the key component for computer network data communications.

Surfing the Internet

Internet user. Photo by FancyCrave1 via Pixabay.com

The Barbie Doll

Until 1959, most dolls resembled infants or children. The Barbie Doll was designed by Ruth Handler of Mattel Inc. in 1959 and named after her daughter Barbara (and the Ken doll named after her son). Handler was inspired by watching her daughter play with paper dolls. She was also inspired by the German doll “Bild-Lilli.”

Barbie Doll

Barbie doll. Photo by Alexas Fotos via Pixabay.com

The Laser

Theodore Harold Maiman, an engineer and physicist, is widely credited with developing the first working laser in 1960 from a ruby crystal in his Malibu laboratory.

First Working Laser

Exhibit at National Museum of American History, Washington, DC. Photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

The Audio-animatronics Figures/Robots

Designed by Lee Adams of Walt Disney Burbank Studios, these figures were first introduced by Disney in 1961.

It's a Small World Animatronics

Animatronics figure in It's a World ride at Disneyland. Los Angeles Almanac photo.

The Apollo Command/Service Module Lunar Space Vehicle

Developed and built by North American Rockwell in Los Angeles beginning in 1961, the first space vehicle was launched in 1966.

Apollo Command-Service Module

Apollo 15 command module over moon, from lunar lander. Photo courtesy of NASA.

The Space Shuttle

The first space shuttle Enterprise was built by North American Rockwell at their Downey and Palmdale plants from 1972 through 1976.

Space Shuttle Endeavor

Space Shuttle Endeavor approaching International Space Station. Photo courtesy of NASA.

The Nicotine Patch

Developed by UCLA pharmacologist, Dr. Murray Jarvik, UCLA postdoctoral fellow Jed Rose, and K. Daniel Rose and patented by UCLA in 1990, the “patch” was meant to address nicotine addiction.

Nicotine Patch

Nicotine patch applied to arm. Photo by RegBarc via Wikimedia Commons

The Mars Rover

Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge developed the first Mars Rover, Sojourner(built by McDonnell Douglas), and launched it to Mars in 1996.

Mars Rovers

Two generations of Mars rovers. Photo courtesy of JPL/NASA.