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World-changing inventions you didn’t know came from California 

California has given the world a lot of different creations over the decades. Silicon Valley is the global tech capital, where everything from the first Apple computers to Facebook were designed and built.

Los Angeles’ Hollywood is a filmmaking powerhouse, with several of the world’s biggest studios. Away from the cities, Californian farms produce more food for Americans than any other state.

While you’re probably familiar with all of these, there are other Californian inventions that you may not know about.

Slot Machines

Technically, the first-ever slot machine was actually invented in Brooklyn, New York by a company called Sittman and Pitt. However, the machine had a number of flaws that meant they were impractical to operate at scale. The biggest issue was that they contained so many different possible outcomes that the mechanical devices couldn’t offer an automatic payout, so a slot machine attendant had to stand nearby to pay winning customers.

Charles Fey of San Francisco, California changed this. He created the Liberty Bell in 1899, a slot machine that used a much simpler mechanism that would do away with the slot machine attendant.

Today, slot machines use the same basic principles created by Fey, but with a few technical improvements. The biggest development is that all new slot games are digital, allowing their creators to include progressive jackpots, bonus features, and multiple paylines.

You can still find games that use the traditional fruit symbols, similar to those created by Fey, but many modern video slots have replaced these with themed symbols that give each one a unique look and feel.


It may be hard to imagine now, but there was a time, not that long ago, where you’d buy your groceries from a string of different shops. Your meat would come from a butcher, bread from a baker, and vegetables from a greengrocer.

However, Ralphs was a chain of supermarkets that brought all of this under one roof. The company was founded in 1873 though it didn’t do anything radical until the early 20th century.

As America adopted the car, the company began building new stores that catered to these new vehicles. Customers could drive up, park right outside, buy everything they needed, and take it straight home again. Sounds mundane today, but in the 1920s, the concept was radical.

You can still find Ralphs today in Southern California, but its concept has been replicated in almost every country around the world.

The Internet

When you think of the inventor of the internet, you probably think of Sir Tim Berners-Lee. However, Berners-Lee didn’t actually invent the internet, his contribution was the World Wide Web. Before it, there was no such thing as a website, the internet was mostly just a bunch of message boards and file servers.

However, the internet itself has its roots in California. It started out as something called the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), which was a network of computers at universities and research centers.

It was started at UCLA, with Leonard Kleinrock leading the project. He connected his computers to the Augmentation Research Center at the Stanford Research Institute, UCSB, and the University of Utah School of Computing.

Eventually, ARPANET would adopt TCP/IP, the communications standard still used by the internet to this day.

Fast Food

There are nearly 38,000 McDonald’s restaurants around the world. There are also nearly 18,000 Burger Kings, more than 24,000 KFCs, over 7,000 Taco Bells, and more than 40,000 Subways.

The world is dominated by fast food, but few realize that California is responsible for its invention.

While Kansas opened the first “fast-food chain” restaurant way back in 1948, the concept was far from what we know today. The assembly line system used by every single fast food joint on the planet was pioneered by Richard and Maurice McDonald in their San Bernardino restaurant back in 1940.

That’s not all, In-N-Out Burger, Taco Bell, and Wienerschnitzel chains were all founded in The Golden State.


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About the author: Access Publishing

Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Paso Robles Daily News on Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, or follow his blog.