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Street Letter Box
Street Letter Box

For many years, anyone wishing to mail a letter, would have to go to their local post office. That all changed when Philip B. Downing designed a metal box for storage of mail. He patented this device on October 27, 1891. He called the device a “street letter box”. It is the predecessor of today’s mailbox.

Prior to the “street letter box”, Downing also patented an electrical switch that could be used by railroads. The switch allowed workers to turn power off and on to trains at the appropriate times. Downing’s electrical switch was catalyst for later inventors who would create other types of electrical switches such as light switches.


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