What Has Been Invented in Idaho?


Idaho, a state located in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States, is known for its beautiful landscapes and natural resources. However, it is not only the scenic beauty that makes Idaho remarkable. Over the years, the state has been a hub for innovation and invention, with several significant contributions to various fields. In this article, we will explore some of the notable inventions that have originated from Idaho.

The Potato Harvester

Idaho is famously associated with potatoes, and it comes as no surprise that several inventions related to potato farming have emerged from the state. One of the most significant contributions is the invention of the potato harvester. In 1884, David Brower, a farmer from Idaho, patented the first mechanical potato harvester. This invention revolutionized the potato industry, making the harvesting process more efficient and less labor-intensive.

The J.R. Simplot Company

Another remarkable invention in the field of potato farming is the frozen French fry. In the 1940s, J.R. Simplot, an entrepreneur from Idaho, developed a process to freeze French fries, enabling them to be stored and shipped long distances without spoiling. This invention paved the way for the mass production and distribution of frozen French fries, making them a staple in households and fast-food chains worldwide.

Nuclear-Powered Submarine

Idaho’s contributions to the defense sector are also noteworthy. In the 1950s, the first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus, was developed with the help of the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). Located in Idaho, the INL played a vital role in developing the nuclear reactor technology used in the submarine. The USS Nautilus revolutionized naval warfare, offering extended range and endurance compared to conventional submarines.

INL and Nuclear Energy

The Idaho National Laboratory has been instrumental in the development of nuclear energy. It has been a leading research facility for nuclear power generation, conducting extensive research on reactor technology and safety. The INL has contributed to advancements in nuclear energy, including the development of small modular reactors (SMRs) and next-generation nuclear technologies.

Memory Foam

One of the most well-known inventions to come out of Idaho is memory foam. In the 1960s, NASA funded a project at the Ames Research Center to create a material that could improve seat cushioning and crash protection for astronauts. The result was memory foam, a substance that molds to the body’s shape and then returns to its original form. Charles Yost, a scientist at the Ames Research Center, is credited with inventing memory foam.


The commercialization of memory foam was made possible by the Idaho-based company Tempur-Pedic. In the 1990s, Tempur-Pedic introduced memory foam mattresses and pillows to the market, revolutionizing the sleep industry. Today, memory foam products are widely used in various applications, including mattresses, pillows, and medical equipment.

Simplot’s Freeze-Dried Foods

J.R. Simplot, known for his contributions to the potato industry, also played a significant role in the development of freeze-dried foods. In the 1960s, Simplot’s company, the J.R. Simplot Company, pioneered the commercial production of freeze-dried foods. This process involved removing water from food products while preserving their nutritional value, texture, and flavor. Freeze-dried foods have since become popular among outdoor enthusiasts, emergency preparedness kits, and space missions.

Mountain House

Mountain House, a company based in Idaho, is one of the leading providers of freeze-dried foods. They offer a wide range of freeze-dried meals that are convenient for outdoor activities and emergencies. The technology developed by companies like Mountain House has made it possible to have lightweight and long-lasting food options for adventurers and those in need of emergency food supplies.


1. How did the invention of the potato harvester impact Idaho’s potato industry?

The invention of the potato harvester revolutionized Idaho’s potato industry. It made the harvesting process more efficient and less labor-intensive, allowing for increased productivity and reduced costs. This invention played a crucial role in establishing Idaho as one of the leading potato-producing states in the United States.

2. What are the advantages of nuclear-powered submarines compared to conventional submarines?

Nuclear-powered submarines offer several advantages over conventional submarines. They have virtually unlimited range and endurance, as they do not rely on external fuel sources. This allows them to stay submerged for extended periods without the need to surface. Nuclear power also provides greater propulsion, enabling faster speeds and improved maneuverability.

3. How has memory foam revolutionized the sleep industry?

Memory foam has revolutionized the sleep industry by providing superior comfort and support. The material molds to the body’s shape, relieving pressure points and aligning the spine. This promotes better sleep quality and reduces the risk of developing body aches and pains. Memory foam mattresses and pillows have gained popularity for their ability to provide personalized comfort and improve overall sleep experience.

4. What is the process of freeze-drying foods?

Freeze-drying is a process that involves removing water from food products while preserving their nutritional content, texture, and flavor. The process begins by freezing the food, then placing it in a vacuum chamber. Through a process called sublimation, the frozen water in the food directly converts to vapor without passing through the liquid phase. This results in a dehydrated product that can be rehydrated by adding water.

5. Are freeze-dried foods nutritious?

Yes, freeze-dried foods retain their nutritional value despite the removal of water. The freeze-drying process preserves the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals present in the food. However, it’s important to note that some vitamins, such as vitamin C, may degrade during the freeze-drying process. Overall, freeze-dried foods can be a nutritious option, especially when balanced with a variety of other food sources.

6. What other innovations are emerging from Idaho?

Idaho continues to be a hub for innovation, with ongoing research and development in various fields. Some emerging innovations include advancements in renewable energy technologies, such as wind and solar power, as well as advancements in agricultural practices to improve sustainability and water efficiency. Idaho’s commitment to innovation ensures that there will be more remarkable inventions and contributions in the future.


Idaho’s contributions to the world of invention and innovation are diverse and significant. From the potato harvester to nuclear-powered submarines, memory foam to freeze-dried foods, the state has made its mark in various industries. These inventions have not only transformed their respective fields but have also had a global impact. Idaho’s commitment to innovation ensures that it will continue to be a source of groundbreaking inventions in the future.

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