Mary Anderson was the first person to invent efficient windshield wipers in 1903.
After observing a trolley car in New York City, Mary hired a designer and a company to make a working pair of windshield wipers. There were other wipers invented in the past, but Mary's was the best. She was granted a 17 year patent.
She tried selling them to a Canadian firm, but no one was interested it them. Once the car industry picked up in the 1920's, the patent had expired. Businesses started using her design and she never made money off of it.