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On May 5, 1809 – exactly two hundred years ago – Mary Kies became the first woman granted a United States patent. She improved a method of braiding straw to strengthen hats developed but never patented by another American female inventor – Betsy Metcalf. The technique introduced by Ms. Kies was particularly important and valuable for domestic hat manufacturing because at that time European imports decreased significantly due to Napoleonic wars. Unfortunately, her business acumen was not a match for her inventive skills: she was not able to commercialize her invention successfully, lost all her money and died in poverty 28 years later.

? Valery Milgrom, 1997 - 2012

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