Bird Aviation Museum
More Great Inventors

More Great Inventors

Bob Smith inventor of the "Smith ski goggles"


Dr. Jay Morton, scriptwriter for Superman who wrote all of the movies for Christopher Reeves the two Superman before him.  He brought Superman to life!

Fascinating facts about Edward Lowe
inventor of Kitty Litter in 1947. Edward Lowe
Inventor: Edward Lowe

Criteria: First to invent. First practical. Entrepreneur.
Birth: July 10, 1920 in St. Paul, Minnesota
Death: October 4, 1995 in Florida
Nationality: American

The Start of the Big Idea
Ed Lowe was born July 10, 1920 in St. Paul, Minnesota to Lulu and Henry E. Lowe. His family later moved near Cassopolis, Michigan, where Ed spent his youth before serving in the U.S. Navy from 1941 to 1945.

After his Navy duty, Ed joined his father's company in Cassopolis, which sold industrial absorbents, including sawdust and an absorbent clay called Fuller's Earth. One day in 1947, Ed was approached by a neighbor who was tired of using ashes in her cat's box and dealing with sooty paw prints. She asked for some sand, and Ed suggested clay instead. Soon the neighbor would use nothing else, noting that the clay was much more absorbent than sand and didn't track all over the house.

Creating a Market
Ed had a hunch that other cat owners would love his new cat box filler, too, so he filled 10 brown bags with clay, wrote the name "Kitty Litter" on them, and called on the local pet store. With sand available for next-to-nothing, the shop owner doubted anyone would pay 65 cents for a five-pound bag of Kitty Litter Brand. "So give it away," Ed told him. Soon customers were asking for more–and were quite willing to pay for it.

The rest, as they say, is history. Ed started visiting cat shows, where he cleaned hundreds of cat boxes each day in exchange for a booth to display his new product. Crossing the country and visiting local pet shops, Ed continued to sell Kitty Litter Brand from the back of his 1943 Chevy Coupe. Cat owners all over America soon fell in love with this product's odor control and absorbency.

In 1990, prior to the divestiture of its clay mining and consumer product businesses, Edward Lowe Industries, Inc. was the nation's largest producer of cat box filler with retail sales of more than $210 million annually. His product, once sold in simple brown paper bags, had improved too–thanks to Ed's innovative approach to business. Kitty Litter Brand, which was 99 percent dust free, was sanitized with Healthguard and provided a better environment for cats and their owners by controlling growth of odor-causing bacteria.

Quality Products
Quality has always been a priority with Ed, and his products set the standards for the industry. Edward Lowe Industries was the only company of its kind with complete innovation and product development centers. Company scientists at a modern Research and Development Center in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, continually worked to upgrade existing products and spawn new ones. There was even a "cattery" at Big Rock Valley which was home to 120 felines who "worked" to assist in the development of new products. The Cattery also boasted a fully staffed cat care clinic, as well as an animal behavior facility which permitted 24-hour television monitoring of resident cats.
Ed's devotion to customer service and satisfaction has never changed since that day in 1947, when he offered help to a neighbor. Every bag of Ed's cat box filler contained a personal money-back promise of satisfaction. He firmly believed that's the only way to do business.

Ed made the same kind of commitment to rekindle the entrepreneurial spirit in American business. And he was recognized for his contribution. In 1988, he was the recipient of the Babson College Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs Award and the Arthur Young Distinguished Entrepreneur Lifetime Achievement Award.

Until his death on October 4, 1995, Mr. Lowe resided at his ranch in Florida where, with his wife Darlene, they raised cattle, horses, and oranges. At the same time, they actively managed the Foundation and still put much of their energy into nurturing entrepreneurship. These efforts continue under the direction of Mrs. Lowe and the Foundation's board of trustees.


The Entrepreneur    from The Great Idea Finder
The Philanthropist    from The Great Idea Finder
Invention of Kitty Litter     from The Great Idea Finder

Hail Entrepreneur!: A Salute to an Endangered Species
by Edward Lowe / ISBN: 0805936599 / This title is out of print.
The man who discovered the golden cat: the life story of Ed Lowe
by Edward Lowe / ISBN: 0961884800 / This title is out of print.

Edward Lowe Biography
Even among the burgeoning lists of highly successful entrepreneurs, Edward Lowe occupies a special place. From the official Edward Lowe Foundation Web site.
Kitty Litter / Tidy Cats History
In 1964, Lowe created Tidy Cats ® brand and it was sold openly in grocery stores. Kitty entrepreneurs" at a private 3,000-acre complex outside his boyhood hometown of Cassopolis , Michigan . In 1991, he donated this estate for the headquarters of the Edward Lowe Foundation.
From Kitty Litter to the Edward Lowe Foundation
We learn how an entrepreneur, Edward Lowe, discovered a product and created an industry. We learn about branding, succession, and the mind of the entrepreneur. From Small Business School .
Small Business Network
The Edward Lowe Small Business Network-an information toolbox based on a collection of over 3,000 documents and links selected from government agencies, small business consultants, and chapters of books from small business publishers. Contains information for starting, running, and growing a small business.

"My life has been a testimony to the credo of the entrepreneur. People like me who have lived the dream should share their knowledge with others, because if private sector business doesn't help-then the American entrepreneur won't survive." - Edward Lowe, inventor of "Kitty Litter"

Information provided by: Edward Lowe Foundation

Fascinating facts about the invention of the
Barbie® doll
by Ruth Handler in 1959 . BARBIE ® DOLL

Since its debut in 1959, an anatomically improbable molded plastic statuette named Barbie has become an icon. Ruth Handler undeniably invented an American icon that functions as both a steady outlet for girls' dreams and an ever changing reflection of American society. This can be seen in the history of Barbie's clothes, and even her various "face lifts" to suit the times; in her professional, political and charitable endeavors; and more recently in the multi-culturalizing of her product line.

Since its debut in 1959, an anatomically improbable molded plastic statuette named Barbie has become an icon. Ruth Handler undeniably invented an American icon that functions as both a steady outlet for girls' dreams and an ever changing reflection of American society.
Barbie ® doll in 1959
noun / Trademark (Reg, U,S.)
A small-scale anatomically improbable molded plastic figure of a human being used especially as a child's plaything. Collectable doll.
Reg. No. 0689055 issued December 1, 1959
Ruth Handler
First to invent. First to patent. Entrepreneur.
November. 4, 1916 in Denver , Colorado , Ruth Mosko
April 27, 2002 in Los Angeles , California
American, of Polish immigrant parents..


1938 Ruth married Elliot Handler
1945 Mattel founded by Harold Matson, Elliot Handler and Ruth Handler to make picture frames
1946 Matson sells his interest to the Handlers. Mattel makes and sells doll house furniture
1959 Ruth invents a three dimension doll named Barbie
1960 The success of the Barbie doll led Mattel to become a publicly-owned company
1967 Ruth Handler becomes President of Mattel, Inc.
1974 the Handlers leave the Mattel company
CAPs: Barbie, Barbie Doll, Ruth Handler, Elliot Handler, Harold Matson, Mattel,
SIPs: barbie inventor, biography, profile, history, inventor of, history of, who invented, invention of, fascinating facts.


The Story:
She's a successful businesswoman, a member of a rock band and a Women's World Cup Soccer player. Who is this superstar? It's none other than Barbie doll. A little hard to believe, but the Barbie Doll started out as a human being! She was Barbara Handler, the daughter of Ruth and Elliot Handler.
In the early 1950s, Handler saw that her young daughter, Barbara, and her girlfriends enjoyed playing with adult female dolls as much or more than with baby dolls. Handler sensed that it was just as important for girls to imagine what they themselves might grow up to become as it was for them to focus on what caring for children might be like.

Because all the adult dolls then available were made of paper or cardboard, Handler decided to create a three-dimensional adult female doll, one lifelike enough to serve as an inspiration for her daughter's dreams of her future. Handler took her idea to the ad executives at Mattel Corp., the company that she and her husband, Elliot, had founded in their garage some years before: the (all-male) committee rejected the idea as too expensive, and with little potential for wide market appeal.

Soon thereafter, Handler returned from a trip to Europe with a "Lilli" doll, modeled after a character in a German comic strip. Handler spent some time designing a doll similar to Lilli, and even hired a designer to make realistic doll clothes. The result was the Barbie doll (named in honor of the Handlers' daughter), a pint-sized model of the "girl next door."

Mattel finally agreed to back Handler's efforts; and the Barbie doll debuted at the American Toy Fair in New York City in 1959. Girls clamored for the doll, and Barbie set a new sales record for Mattel its first year on the market (351,000 dolls, at $3 each). Since then, Barbie's popularity has rarely flagged; and today, with over one billion dolls sold, the Barbie product line is the most successful in the history of the toy industry.

The first Barbie doll sported a ponytail hairstyle, black and white zebra-striped bathing suit, open-toed shoes, sunglasses and earrings. A line of fashions and accessories was also available. Buyers at the industry's annual Toy Fair in New York were not impressed, but little girls certainly were and the Barbie doll took retailers by storm. Mattel was so swamped with orders that it took several years for supply to catch up with demand.

The Barbie doll was introduced as a teenage fashion model, but in the years that followed she has taken on many aspirational roles. She has tackled almost every conceivable profession, including dentist, doctor, firefighter, astronaut, paleontologist-even Presidential candidate.

The Barbie doll has been joined by friends and family over the years, including the Ken doll-named for the Handlers' son-in 1961, Midge in 1963, Skipper in 1965 and Christie-an African-American doll and the first of many ethnic friends-in 1968. More recently, in 1995, the Barbie doll gained a little sister, Baby Sister Kelly, and, in 1997, a disabled friend in a wheelchair, Share a Smile Becky.
Barbie doll is further expanding her versatile and limitless roles to inspire girls' dreams as she prepares for the new millennium.

The world of the Barbie® doll today is a great deal more than a doll and accessories. Barbie doll is keeping in step by allowing girls to use their computers to program and personalize their Barbie doll and design, create, play and dream using BarbieT software. The Barbie line has also developed into a broad array of exciting licensed products for girls, including books, apparel, food, home furnishings and home electronics.

From the beginning, Barbie has also had her critics: the major accusation, from feminists and others, has been that she reinforces sexism, representing a young woman with questionable intelligence and a near-impossible physique. The late 60s even saw the creation of the "Barbie Liberation Organization," after Mattel introduced "Ken", as Barbie's "handsome steady."

Despite such criticisms, playing with Barbie dolls seems as a rule to enhance girls' self-image and expand their sense of their potential rather than the opposite. This has become more true over the years, as Barbie herself has expanded her horizons: she has now appeared as a doctor, astronaut, businesswoman, police officer, UNICEF volunteer, and athlete. Over the years, Barbie has achieved the title of the most popular fashion doll ever created

"We didn't know how to run a business, but we had dreams and talent. " - Ruth Handler

"I believed it was important to a little girl's self-esteem, to play with a doll that has breasts."  - Ruth Handler


  • One of the most successful dolls in history, with sales of more than US$1.7 billion in 1998.
  • The average American girl between the ages of 3 and 11 owns ten Barbie dolls.
  • Barbie doll is currently sold in more than 150 countries around the world.
  • More than one billion Barbie dolls (and family members) have been sold since 1959, and placed head-to-toe, the dolls would circle the earth more than seven times.
  • The best-selling Barbie doll ever created was Totally Hair Barbie, introduced in 1992. With hair from the top of her head to her toes, Totally HairT Barbie sold more than 10 million units, generating worldwide sales of US $100 million.
  • By the way, the Handlers had a son. His name was Ken. Other dolls were named for Handler's grandchildren, including Stacie, Todd and Cheryl.
  • Barbie dolls sell at the rate of two dolls every second.
  • Ruth Handler invented something in 1959 which became so quintessentially American as to be included in the official " America 's Time Capsule" buried at the celebration of the Bicentennial in 1976: the Barbie doll.
  • If Barbie was 5 foot 6 instead of 11 1/2 inches tall, her measurements, would be 39-21-33. An academic expert once calculated that a woman's likelihood of being shaped like Barbie was less than 1 in 100,000. (Ken was shaped somewhat more realistically: The chances of a boy developing his measurements were said to be 1 in 50.)

Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center
2678 W. Cessna Avenue. Hayden, Idaho 83835