Carlee Lovely

Written by Carlee Lovely

Modified & Updated: 06 Mar 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


Kettering, Ohio, a city steeped in history and innovation, has been a hotbed for technological advancements. From pioneering inventions to cutting-edge developments, Kettering has played a pivotal role in shaping the technological landscape. In this article, we'll delve into 13 fascinating facts about technological innovations in Kettering, Ohio. Get ready to embark on a journey through time and discover the remarkable contributions that have emerged from this vibrant city. Whether you're a tech enthusiast, history buff, or simply curious about the impact of innovation, these insights will offer a captivating glimpse into Kettering's rich technological tapestry. So, let's uncover the stories behind the groundbreaking inventions and visionary minds that have left an indelible mark on Kettering's technological legacy.

Key Takeaways:

  • Kettering, Ohio has a rich history of technological innovation, from the first electric cash register to the development of the modern airbag, shaping industries and impacting global progress.
  • The city’s groundbreaking inventions, like the disposable diaper and the polio vaccine, have not only shaped its legacy but have also significantly impacted global technological progress.
Table of Contents

Kettering, Ohio is Home to the First Electric Cash Register

In 1879, James Ritty, a saloon owner in Dayton, Ohio, invented the first mechanical cash register to prevent his employees from pilfering his profits. This revolutionary invention paved the way for modern retail transactions and was the precursor to the electric cash register, which was later developed by the National Cash Register Company in Kettering, Ohio.

The City is the Birthplace of the Electric Starter

In 1911, Charles F. Kettering, a prolific inventor and engineer, developed the electric starter, a groundbreaking innovation that revolutionized the automotive industry. This invention eliminated the need for hand-cranking, making it easier and safer to start internal combustion engines. Kettering's invention significantly contributed to the widespread adoption of automobiles.

Kettering, Ohio is Renowned for the Development of Freon

Thomas Midgley Jr., a prominent chemist and engineer, discovered the first chlorofluorocarbon, known as Freon, in 1928 while working at the Frigidaire division of General Motors in Kettering, Ohio. This invention revolutionized the refrigeration and air conditioning industries, leading to the widespread use of Freon in cooling systems worldwide.

The City is Associated with the Development of the Incandescent Light Bulb

Charles F. Brush, a prominent inventor and entrepreneur, played a pivotal role in the development of the incandescent light bulb. In 1879, Brush's carbon arc lamps illuminated Public Square in Cleveland, Ohio, marking the first large-scale use of electric lighting. His contributions to the field of lighting technology laid the foundation for subsequent advancements in the industry.

Kettering, Ohio is Linked to the Invention of the Polio Vaccine

Dr. Albert Sabin, a renowned medical researcher, developed the oral polio vaccine while working at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Research Foundation in Ohio. His groundbreaking vaccine, which replaced the injected polio vaccine, played a crucial role in the global eradication of the disease, saving countless lives worldwide.

The City is Associated with the Development of the Modern Airbag

In 1971, Allen K. Breed, an engineer at the General Motors Research Laboratories in Kettering, Ohio, invented the first electromechanical airbag system. This pioneering technology laid the groundwork for the modern airbag systems used in automobiles today, significantly enhancing passenger safety in the event of a collision.

Kettering, Ohio is Home to the Invention of the Barcode Scanner

In 1974, Norman Joseph Woodland, a graduate student at Drexel University, and Bernard Silver developed the first barcode scanner based on Woodland's patent. The technology was later refined and commercialized by the National Cash Register Company in Kettering, Ohio, revolutionizing retail and inventory management worldwide.

The City is Renowned for the Development of the First Automotive Ignition System

Charles F. Kettering, in collaboration with the Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (Delco), developed the first practical automotive ignition system in This innovation replaced the unreliable and hazardous hand-cranked starters, making it safer and more convenient to start internal combustion engines in vehicles.

Kettering, Ohio is Associated with the Invention of the Disposable Diaper

Marion Donovan, a mother and entrepreneur from Fort Wayne, Indiana, invented the first disposable diaper in She later relocated to Kettering, Ohio, where she further developed and patented her innovative diaper design, revolutionizing infant care and hygiene practices for generations to come.

The City is Linked to the Development of the First Commercially Successful Refrigerator

In 1916, Alfred Mellowes, an engineer and inventor, designed and patented the first self-contained refrigerator, known as the "Domelre." The Domelre, manufactured by the Dayton Refrigeration Company in Kettering, Ohio, became the first commercially successful refrigerator, transforming household food storage and preservation.

Kettering, Ohio is Home to the Development of the First Electric Car Starter

Charles F. Kettering's invention of the electric starter in 1911 revolutionized the automotive industry, making it easier and safer to start internal combustion engines. This pioneering technology laid the groundwork for the widespread adoption of electric starters in automobiles, marking a significant advancement in automotive engineering.

The City is Renowned for the Invention of the First Practical Windshield Wiper

In 1903, Mary Anderson, an Alabama native, patented the first practical windshield wiper. Her innovative device, designed to improve driver visibility during inclement weather, was later refined and commercialized by the National Cash Register Company in Kettering, Ohio, contributing to enhanced safety in automotive transportation.

Kettering, Ohio is Associated with the Development of the First Automatic Transmission

In 1939, General Motors introduced the first automatic transmission, the Hydra-Matic, which revolutionized the automotive industry. This innovative transmission system, developed in Kettering, Ohio, provided drivers with a convenient and efficient means of shifting gears, setting a new standard for automotive performance and driving comfort.

The "13 Facts about Technological Innovations in Kettering, Ohio" showcase the city's remarkable contributions to technological advancements across various industries. From pioneering inventions in automotive engineering to revolutionary developments in consumer products and medical breakthroughs, Kettering, Ohio has left an indelible mark on the landscape of innovation. These groundbreaking achievements have not only shaped the city's legacy but have also significantly impacted global technological progress, underscoring Kettering's pivotal role in driving innovation and shaping the modern world.


In conclusion, Kettering, Ohio, has been at the forefront of technological innovations, showcasing a commitment to progress and advancement. From pioneering research in healthcare technology to the development of sustainable energy solutions, Kettering has established itself as a hub for cutting-edge advancements. The city's dedication to fostering innovation has not only propelled its own growth but has also contributed to the broader technological landscape. As Kettering continues to embrace and drive technological innovations, it is poised to make even greater strides in shaping the future of technology.


What technological advancements have put Kettering, Ohio, on the map?Kettering, Ohio, has gained recognition for its advancements in healthcare technology, particularly in the fields of medical research and innovative healthcare solutions. The city's contributions have significantly impacted the healthcare industry on a global scale.

How has Kettering, Ohio, fostered a culture of innovation?Kettering has cultivated a culture of innovation through strategic partnerships between local businesses, educational institutions, and research facilities. This collaborative approach has facilitated the exchange of ideas and resources, driving technological progress within the city.

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