Can you imagine what life must have been like for women before incredible inventions like the at-home pregnancy test were invented?
Before inventor Margaret Crane came around, women were forced to go straight to the doctor to find out if they were pregnant, and even then, it sometimes took up to two weeks for women to get their lab results back.
Margaret or ‘Meg’ Crane was born in 1941. When she was 26-years-old, she worked for the pharmaceutical company Organon, which was located in West Orange, New Jersey. Margaret was responsible for designing useful yet aesthetically pleasing packaging for lipsticks and ointments for the company.
On the job, Margaret came across a lab used to process pregnancy tests. When a scientist for the company explained how the tests worked and how long women often had to wait to get their results back, she became frustrated with the slow-moving process, believing pregnancy tests should be faster, more efficient, and more accessible for women.
Despite having no background in science or chemistry, in 1967, Margaret managed to design a prototype for an at-home pregnancy test women could use to get results in hours versus weeks.
Like the models of pregnancy tests used today, Margaret’s test results determined pregnancy based on how much hCG hormone was detected in the user’s urine.
Margaret’s at-home pregnancy test came with a dropper, a vial, a rack, and a mirror and came in a convenient plastic box inspired by the small box that held her paper clips on her desk.
Margaret presented her test to Organon, who weren’t as enthusiastic about it as she had hoped they’d be, as they were resistant to women being able to test for pregnancy themselves, worried about what would happen if they got a result they weren’t happy about. Additionally, the pharmaceutical company thought an at-home pregnancy test would put labs out of business.
It wasn’t until Margaret’s test was presented to corporate owners in the Netherlands, who loved it, that everyone realized what a great idea it was. Other test designs were brought in to be compared to Margaret’s, but her simple design was deemed the best.