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12 Things That Wouldn’t Exist If It Weren’t For Michigan

Michigan gets the job done. So get the job you want — and see all you can accomplish in the state at MITalent.org.

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1. American Ginger Ale

While ginger ale originated in Ireland around 1851, America's oldest ginger ale calls Michigan home — specifically Detroit. Named after its pharmacist inventor, Vernors is still around today, 130 years later. A regional favorite, the pop is available online.
bhofack2 / Getty Images

While ginger ale originated in Ireland around 1851, America's oldest ginger ale calls Michigan home — specifically Detroit. Named after its pharmacist inventor, Vernors is still around today, 130 years later. A regional favorite, the pop is available online.

2. Fiber Optics

You wouldn't even be reading this right now if it weren't for Lansing-born physicist Donald B. Keck. In 1970, Keck — who earned his Ph.D. from Michigan State University — helped develop the "first optical fiber ... for wide use in telecommunications."
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You wouldn't even be reading this right now if it weren't for Lansing-born physicist Donald B. Keck. In 1970, Keck — who earned his Ph.D. from Michigan State University — helped develop the "first optical fiber ... for wide use in telecommunications."

3. Baby Food

We don't know what babies ate before baby food. Thankfully in 1928, Daniel Frank Gerber, Jr. took his father's modest Fremont Canning Company — that's Fremont, Michigan — to new success when he introduced Gerber's Baby Food. Familiar, right?
Sami Keinänen (CC BY-SA http://2.0) / Via Flickr: sami73

We don't know what babies ate before baby food. Thankfully in 1928, Daniel Frank Gerber, Jr. took his father's modest Fremont Canning Company — that's Fremont, Michiganto new success when he introduced Gerber's Baby Food. Familiar, right?

4. Programmable Machines

Credited as "the father of the second Industrial Revolution," John T. Parsons — a Detroit native — invented numerical control, that is, computer-aided machines. Thank Parsons we're still not hand-cranking everything. Oh, and for robotics.
Sapocka / Getty Images

Credited as "the father of the second Industrial Revolution," John T. Parsons — a Detroit native — invented numerical control, that is, computer-aided machines. Thank Parsons we're still not hand-cranking everything. Oh, and for robotics.

5. Breakfast Cereal

Known as the "Cereal Capital of the World," Battle Creek, Michigan is remembered as the birthplace of two major cereal companies, Post and Kellogg's in 1895 and 1906, respectively. At one point, the city hosted as many as 80 different cereal companies.
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Known as the "Cereal Capital of the World," Battle Creek, Michigan is remembered as the birthplace of two major cereal companies, Post and Kellogg's in 1895 and 1906, respectively. At one point, the city hosted as many as 80 different cereal companies.

6. Synthetic Penicillin

During World War II, the United States and Great Britain spent $20 million in a failed effort to synthesize penicillin; most thought it impossible. Not until 1957 did Battle Creek-born John C. Sheehan (Ph.D., University of Michigan) achieve the impossible.
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During World War II, the United States and Great Britain spent $20 million in a failed effort to synthesize penicillin; most thought it impossible. Not until 1957 did Battle Creek-born John C. Sheehan (Ph.D., University of Michigan) achieve the impossible.

7. Boeing Aircraft

This holiday season, chances are you'll find yourself on a Boeing airliner. The company started when William Boeing of Detroit took a ride "aboard a rickety airplane in 1915 in Seattle," and thought he could do a better job. Spoiler alert: he did.
revedavion.com (CC BY-SA http://2.0) / Via Flickr: francoisroche

This holiday season, chances are you'll find yourself on a Boeing airliner. The company started when William Boeing of Detroit took a ride "aboard a rickety airplane in 1915 in Seattle," and thought he could do a better job. Spoiler alert: he did.

8. Computer Games

Hailed as the "Father of Computer Gaming," programmer Sid Meier's name precedes some of the most successful video game franchises including Civilization, Railroad Tycoon, and Pirates! But where did he earn his degree? The University of Michigan.
Nybygger (CC BY-SA http://3.0) / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Hailed as the "Father of Computer Gaming," programmer Sid Meier's name precedes some of the most successful video game franchises including Civilization, Railroad Tycoon, and Pirates! But where did he earn his degree? The University of Michigan.

9. Shay Locomotives

Picture a classic locomotive, and it's probably the Shay model, "the most widely used geared steam locomotive." Named after its inventor, Ephraim Shay — a logger from Haring, Michigan — he patented the design in 1881. Today, only 114 Shays survive.
SoftwareSimian (CC BY-SA http://3.0) / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Picture a classic locomotive, and it's probably the Shay model, "the most widely used geared steam locomotive." Named after its inventor, Ephraim Shay — a logger from Haring, Michigan — he patented the design in 1881. Today, only 114 Shays survive.

10. Hospital Beds

Inventor of such things as "the turning frame, the cast cutting saw, a rubber heel for walking casts, [and] an oscillating bone saw," Dr. Homer Stryker was beloved by Kalamazoo. His most famous invention was the patient-operated Circo-Letric Bed.
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Inventor of such things as "the turning frame, the cast cutting saw, a rubber heel for walking casts, [and] an oscillating bone saw," Dr. Homer Stryker was beloved by Kalamazoo. His most famous invention was the patient-operated Circo-Letric Bed.

11. Traffic Lights

Though he never filed for a patent, William Potts — a Detroit police officer — is credited with adding a yellow light to the four-way traffic signal, thus producing the first modern traffic light at the "corner of Woodward and Michigan avenues."
William Warby (CC BY http://2.0) / Via Flickr: wwarby

Though he never filed for a patent, William Potts — a Detroit police officer — is credited with adding a yellow light to the four-way traffic signal, thus producing the first modern traffic light at the "corner of Woodward and Michigan avenues."

12. And oh yeah, THE CAR

Born just outside Dearborn, Henry Ford "revolutionized assembly-line modes of production for the automobile." Ford's Model T, the world's first affordable car, debuted in Detroit in 1908 and would continue to be manufactured until 1927.
William Creswell (CC BY http://2.0) / Via Flickr: crackdog

Born just outside Dearborn, Henry Ford "revolutionized assembly-line modes of production for the automobile." Ford's Model T, the world's first affordable car, debuted in Detroit in 1908 and would continue to be manufactured until 1927.

See what you can accomplish in Michigan at MITalent.org, where thousands of job opportunities await!

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