John W. Anderson

Inducted 1972

A prolific inventor that provided millions of drivers with clear vision

John W. Anderson helped drivers see clearly, no matter the weather. Born in Iroquois County, Illinois, in 1883, Anderson learned a variety of skills on the family farm and at local businesses, including a saw mill and a tile factory. His vivid imagination led to his first patent, a bullet casing mold, at age 23. From that point on, Anderson would always have a patent pending. At age 35, he founded the Anderson Company, which produced a number of his own inventions. A contract with Ford Motor Company to build manifolds and ignition timers for the Model T brought Anderson’s company a steady stream of business, but he wanted to ensure his company’s success by diversifying.

One stormy night in 1925, Anderson finally saw his opportunity. While driving through the rural Midwest, he encountered a horrendous thunderstorm. Rain was pelting his windshield, and he soon found that his car’s wiper blades were worn to the point of being useless. Unable to see where he was going, he stopped at a number of service stations to try and locate some replacement blades, but none had a set available. Realizing he was likely not the only motorist to suffer this fate, Anderson stormed up an idea to offer replacement wiper blade kits at every auto parts store and service station across the country. It was that very night that the ANCO wiper blade was born.

ANCO’s replacement wiper blade kits quickly became the most popular brand of replacement blade in the United States thanks to clever marketing techniques and widespread distribution. ANCO wiper blades even became standard equipment on numerous military vehicles, planes, and boats during WWII. Over the next 30 years, Anderson developed and manufactured wiper blades and arms to fit virtually every vehicle’s windshield. In addition to his business contributions, Anderson also became a noted benefactor of children’s causes and charities. He would pass away in 1967 with over 100 patents to his name.

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Class of 1972

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