First on First: Zamboni

Most people are familiar with the Zamboni ice resurfacer, but did you know an Italian American invented the machine?

Frank Zamboni was born in Eureka, Utah, in 1901. His parents, both immigrants from Italy, moved their family to a farm in Idaho shortly after his birth. When he was 15, Frank began to work as a mechanic at a local garage. He was a natural. As a young adult, Frank studied to become an electrician and he and his younger brother, Lawrence, started the Service Electric Company (later renamed Zamboni Brothers Company). By 1927, their company was selling wholesale ice and when demand for blocks of ice diminished, the brothers decided to open up an ice skating rink: the Iceland Skating Rink in Paramount, California.

In March 1942, Frank began to use his skills to create a new and improved way to resurface the ice in his rink. His idea was to build a “machine that would shave the ice, remove the shavings, wash and squeegee the ice, and hold snow in an elevated tank large enough to last for an entire resurfacing job” (The Zamboni Story). Seven years later he had a working prototype and was granted Patent Application No. 93,478. Orders began arriving for this brand new invention, and the brothers renamed their company the Frank J. Zamboni & Co. – their last name becoming synonymous with the resurfacing machine. In another first, Frank had invented the “world’s first production battery powered machine,” which was released in 1978 (The Zamboni Story). The Zamboni is still a staple in ice skating rinks around the world, used during NHL games and in international ice-sport competitions.

Sources: The Zamboni Story, Fra Noi, Los Angeles Times

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