Margaret M. Crane
|Known for||Invention of the at-home pregnancy test|
|Fields||Graphic Design, Product Design|
Margaret M. Crane (Meg Crane) is a United States inventor and graphic designer who lives in New York. Crane created the first at home pregnancy test in 1967 while working at Organon in West Orange, New Jersey. She is the listed inventor on US Patent 3,579,306 and 215,7774. There was resistance to marketing pregnancy tests for consumers rather than doctors, and the home pregnancy test did not become available until 1977, except for a market test in Canada in 1972.
She was also a juror in the 2004 trial of Martha Stewart for lying to federal investigators during an insider trading investigation.
Margaret Crane, 26, was hired by the Organon Pharmaceuticals in 1967 to work on a new cosmetic line for the company. One day as she was touring the laboratory of the company she noticed many test tubes. Curious to what they were, she asked and to her surprise they were pregnancy tests. Each individual test tube contained reagents that when mixed with a pregnant woman's urine would indicate pregnancy by displaying a red ring at the bottom of the test tube. Inspired by this, Margaret Crane saw the possibility of this as a home pregnancy test. She thought it was easy enough to do that women could perform this test at home and in a quicker fashion. She took matters into her own hands and went to her home in New York to begin working on her prototype. She combined a paper clip holder, a test tube, a mirror, and a dropper. She put her invention together and presented it to Organon but the idea was at first rejected, but they applied for patents in her name in 1969. Organon eventually decided to do a test market of the product and Margaret Crane's design was chosen. Organon hired a New York ad agency to do the marketing, and Ira Sturtevant was to head the account. He took a particular interest in Margret Crane's prototype. He was intrigued by how elegantly the home pregnancy kit was put together. Organon chose Canada for the test market and Ms Crane and Mr. Sturtevant were chosen to head the project. They went on to become partners for more than 40 years until his passing in 2008. With success the pair went on to building their own marketing company named Ponzi and Weill. “Every woman has the right to know whether or not she is pregnant,” said an early ad for the test that women “can do by yourself, at home, in private, in minutes.” This was Margaret Crane's biggest motivator to invent the at home pregnancy kit. Due to the food and drug administration rules for medical devices it took a while to receive approval for her prototype in the Unites States. Although her name was on the patents for the device, Organon licensed the product to three over-the-counter pharmaceutical companies and Crane never received a penny for her design. She had to sign off her rights for a dollar and never saw that dollar. But She was grateful to have met her partner in the process. It was not until 2012 when the New York Times ran a short "who Made It" feature and Crane received proper recognition for her prototype that simplified the pregnancy of many women.
- "Could Women Be Trusted With Their Own Pregnancy Tests?". The New York Times. July 29, 2016.
- "Patent US3579306 Diagnostic test device". Google Patents. USPTO and Google. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
- Kara Scannell; Matthew Rose; Laurie P. Cohen (March 8, 2004). "In Stewart Case, Reluctant Jurors Found Guilt After Skimpy Defense". The Wall Street Journal.(subscription required)