Neato Inventions

The driverless car, as envisioned in the 1960s.A car that can drive itself: more Jetsons artifacts?  Nope.  In 1967, Earl Boyer, an Ashville native, was part of a team which was designing and testing a driverless car under the auspices of the Ohio State University and the Department of Transportation.  Boyer, who had worked for Teddy Boor ( creator of the famous traffic light), demonstrated a working prototype of his device using a 1965 Plymouth; the Plymouth negotiated 4 1/2 miles of Ashville roads without a driver.

"To the moon, Alice," was Ralph Cramden's favorite saying.  Little did heThe sonic sifter. know that an Ashville native's invention would help us get to the moon and back.  Charles Ward's sonic sifter, which is on display at the museum, was a technological breakthrough; upon return of the Apollo moon landings, the sonic sifter allowed scientists to separate moon dust into its components—a critical step in analysis, and a scientific breakthrough at the time.  Heralded as the Top Invention of 1965 by Industrial Research Magazine, the sonic sifter went on to enjoy applications in coating technology, microcomputers, and oil exploration.  A model of the sonic sifter, donated courtesy of the Gilson Company, is on display in the museum.


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