Chester Greenwood (Age 15) – Earmuffs
While he was 15 years old, Chester Greenwood’s ears got painfully cold one day when ice skating in his hometown of Farmington, Maine. Although he tried wrapping a scarf around his head, it simply didn’t do the trick – so he set out to find a better solution to the problem. Greenwood made a wireframe and asked his grandmother to sew beaver skin pads to it, creating the world’s first earmuffs.
In 1877, at age 19, Greenwood patented his invention. He perfected and manufactured the ear protectors in a local Farmington factory, eventually selling his earmuffs to soldiers during the First World War. By the time he died in 1937, he had made a veritable fortune, selling as many as 400,000 pairs in a single year. What’s more, earmuffs weren’t Greenwood’s only invention; in fact, he took out more than 100 patents in his life.