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Carborandum

Edward Goodrich Acheson (1856-1931), inventor of carborundum, was born in Washington, Pennsylvania on March 9, 1856. Carborandum, a substance he developed in his laboratory, became known as a highly effective abrasive used in manufacturing and was an important influence during the industrial era.

ClearRx Prescription System

The standard, yellowish-colored, round plastic pill bottle has been a familiar fixture in the typical American's medicine cabinet for decades. The bottles' small print and round surface often makes it tricky to read what their contents are, and when and how the patient should take the pills inside.

TV Wireless Remote

Robert Adler held 180 patents for electronics devices, whose applications run from the esoteric to the everyday; he was best known as the "Father of the TV Remote Control."
 

Harvard Mark 1 Computer

Electrical engineer, physicist, and computing pioneer, Howard Hathaway Aiken was born in 1900 in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Aerial Reforestation

Moshe Alamaro developed a revolutionary method of battling global warming as a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The method was planting new trees from the air. 

Broadcast and Audio Recording

Electrical engineer and inventor Ernst Fredrick Werner Alexanderson developed pioneering technological concepts during the early 20th century that contributed to the birth of the broadcasting industry. 

Disposable Cell Phone

Randice-Lisa "Randi" Altschul is proof that lack of expertise in a certain field need not restrict an inventor from creating an exciting new product in that area.

Blanche Ames’ name is familiar to many for her varied accomplishments as an artist, botanical researcher, and activist. Her truly pioneering spirit and action-oriented attitude also led her to create a number of inventions, adding to her reputation in the early 20th century as somewhat of “renaissance woman.”

Gigacycle Range Signal Generator

Betsy Ancker-Johnson began a uniquely diverse and illustrious career in physics, engineering, and public service just after World War II.

Windshield Wipers

In 1903, it rarely occurred to anyone that rain on a moving vehicle’s windshield was a problem that could be eliminated.

Instant Noodles

You’d be hard-pressed to find a college student or an office worker who hasn’t enjoyed a quick, easy, and tasty meal ofin instant ramen noodles.

Internet Browser Technology

The age of the Internet continues to be one filled with tremendous opportunity for young, up-and-coming technologists to make their marks on the world early in their careers.

The Newborn Scoring System

Born on June 7, 1909, Virginia Apgar lived to be a trailblazer: one of Columbia University's first female M.D.s (1933) and one of the first American women to specialize in surgery.

Archimedes' Screw

Mathematician and inventor Archimedes lived more than 2000 years ago, but his life has had a profound and lasting impact on the world.

FM Radio

Edwin Howard Armstrong, the "father of FM radio," was born on December 18, 1890 in New York City. He grew up in Yonkers, New York and knew by the age of fourteen that he wanted to become an inventor.

New Film Developing Method

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, was in its heyday when the organization established The Marshall Space Flight Center, named for General George C. Marshall, in 1960.

Titanium bicycle frames

A natural inclination toward outdoor sports led Indiana native Mike Augspurger to come up with several inventions that would help the disabled to enjoy the sport of competitive cycling.

ZSweet®

Many of us have a sweet tooth but may not be able to enjoy the foods we like too often because of the effects on our blood sugar, our health, and our waistlines.

Difference Engine No. 1 (mechanical calculator)

Mathematician Charles Babbage is credited as being one of the forefathers of the computing era. It is said that the use of Jacquard punch cards, chains, and subassemblies, and the logical structure of the modern computer all stem from his early ideas.

Formula Translator

John Backus developed Fortran, or Formula Translator, one of the first general purpose, high-level computer programming languages.

Innovations in Programming Languages and Real-Time Computing

Computer scientist David Bacon makes it his mission to improve the efficiency of computer programming languages.

Bakelite (Plastic)

It's in our homes. It's the most common material in the workplace. Sometimes it's even in our bodies. We may be in the Information Age, but it's hard to believe that we are not living squarely in the Plastic Age.

Magnavox Odyssey

The smashing success of home video games, one of the world’s fastest growing and most popular forms of entertainment, was made possible with the advent of a number of technological developments, such as TV sets, computer technology, and graphic design software.

Plane (tool)

Leondard Bailey was a tool designer in the 19th century. Working on his own and later for Stanley Rule and Level Co. (now Stanley Black & Decker), designed Bailey, Victor, and Defiant bench planes, or tools used to smooth the surface of wood.  His designs became models for most planes made after mid-1800s.

Atlas Powered Ascenders

Think Spider Man’s ability to scale walls quickly looks like a skill that could come in handy in real life? That notion is now a reality with the invention of the Powered Rope Ascender, developed by Nathan Ball and classmates when he was a mechanical engineering student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Bacterial Cement

Sookie Bang invented a process that induces bacteria to create a natural, environmentally friendly cement that can be used to repair faults in rock and concrete from the inside out.

Benjamin Banneker, one of the nation's best-known African American inventors, was born in 1731 in Maryland, which was then a British colony.

Digital Packet Switching

Paul Baran, computer technologist and entrepreneur, was responsible for one of the fundamental concepts that enable today’s advanced computer networking systems: digital packet-switching.

Optic-Flow Sensors

Some of the most profound technological inventions take their inspiration from what is found in nature. Such is the case with the innovative optic-flow sensors developed by engineer and inventor Geoffrey Barrows.

Statue of Liberty

On February 18, 1879, the French sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904) earned US Patent #11,023 for a "Design for a Statue." This statue, "Liberty Enlightening the World," would become one of the most famous monuments of world history.

Bathysphere

The deep sea is a mysterious frontier, difficult to reach for exploration and seen by a very small number of scientists who brave the dangers of submerging themselves hundreds, even thousands of feet below the surface.

                                Laserphaco Probe

Dr. Patricia Bath, ophthalmologic surgeon, inventor, and activist for patients’ rights, was born in Harlem, New York in 1942 to Rupert Bath, an educated and well-traveled merchant seaman, and Gladys Bath, a homemaker and housecleaner. They were loving and supportive parents who encouraged their children to focus on education and believe in their dreams and ideas.

Greensulate™

As the environmental movement continues to build momentum, many hopeful scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs are striving to serve a growing need and demand for environmentally friendly, sustainable building products.

Wind-up Radio

Many individuals around the world, particularly in third world countries, lack access to electricity, which makes it difficult for government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to pass potentially life-saving information to them in times of crisis or when battling epidemics.

Beach Pneumatic Transit System

Alfred Ely Beach was born on September 1, 1826 in Springfield, Massachusetts.  During his lifetime, he became a prominent figure in the world of invention not only because of his numerous patents and technological advances but also for his involvement in establishing the popular periodical Scientific American, a magazine he purchased with a colleague as a young man in 1846.

The pH meter

Over 60 years ago, Arnold O. Beckman invented the world’s first pH meter, initiating a long and distinguished career as a businessman, philanthropist, and inventor of scientific instruments.

Naturalist

Charles William Beebe, one of the United States' most significant oceanic pioneers, was born July 29, 1877 in Brooklyn, New York.

Magnetic Recording

Magnetic recording technology, introduced in the later part of the 19th century, inspired an entirely new world of electronic communication. German-American inventor Semi Joseph Begun made contributions in this field that sped the development of the broadcasting industry.

Genetically engineers viruses to create new products

Over hundreds of millions of years, microorganisms have become efficient at building practical, durable structures and materials from available elements, working at nanoscale dimensions.

The Telephone

When the word "inventor" is mentioned, Alexander Graham Bell, creator of the telephone, is undoubtedly one of the first names that springs to mind.

Easy-Care Cotton

Over the span of more than fifty years and through more than fifty patents granted, Ruth Rogan Benerito used her broad scientific training to transform the cotton, wood, and paper industries. The most noteworthy benefit for consumers has been easy-care clothing.

Benton Hologram

Stephen A. Benton was the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and director of the MIT Center of Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS).

The disk gramophone

Emile Berliner (1851-1929) emigrated from Hanover, Germany to Washington, D.C. at the age of 19. He studied at the Cooper Institute (now Cooper Union), worked as an assistant in a chemistry lab, and sold dry goods to support himself.

The World Wide Web

In the complex history of innovation flowing to and from the Internet, one major achievement is uncontested:  Between 1989 and 1991, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web.

“What I appreciate most about science and research is that, although you don’t aid people on a day-to-day basis as physicians do, you have the potential to impact society as a whole,” says David Berry. In 2005, Berry was named the $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize winner for his innovations in both stroke and cancer treatments.

Hailing from Mt. Kisco, New York, Berry didn’t always know he’d become an inventor. Berry says he was a kid who liked to tinker, build, disassemble, and try to put things back together again.

Bessemer Converter

“Man of Steel” Henry Bessemer was born on January 19, 1813 in Charlton, Hertfordshire, England.  The first to develop a process for mass-producing steel inexpensively, this son of an engineer was a prolific and diverse inventor throughout his life.

Diamond is the hardest known material, natural or manmade, in existence.

Geobond®

Patricia Billings of Kansas City, Missouri has invented one of the most revolutionary – and potentially profitable – substances in the history of the modern construction industry: a building material that is both indestructible and fireproof.

CRAYOLA CRAYONS

Young children express their creativity more than anything else with their box of crayons. This has been true for over a hundred years and is largely due to the efforts of one American company.

Babybird Respirator

Forrest Bird, inventor of the first reliable, low-cost, mass-produced medical respirator, was born in Stoughton, Massachusetts in 1921.

Birdseye Frozen Foods

Clarence Birdseye (1886-1956) found a way to flash-freeze foods and deliver them to the public - one of the most important steps forward ever taken in the food industry.

Long Lasting Lipstick

Long-lasting lipstick was one of the first modern cosmetics of its kind, one that took advantage of advances in chemistry and was designed with improved customer experience in mind.

Intelligent Training System

Workplace fires cause billions of dollars in damage each year. Unfortunately, in many cases, much of that damage could be prevented if an individual who happened to discover the flames early enough knew how to properly use a fire extinguisher.

Stair-climbing wheelchair

Most of his over a dozen patented inventions have been in textile machinery, surgical apparatus, or devices that assist the physically challenged.

Nonreflecting Glass

With a master's degree in hand at age 19, Katherine Blodgett (1898-1979) was the first female scientist to be hired by General Electric's Research Laboratory in Schenectady, New York in 1917.

Electronic Feeding Device

She made significant breakthroughs in assistive technologies and forensic science, becoming a role model for women and African Americans for her pioneering work.

Bogdon Reception Stick

Candymaker Walter Bogdon created the delightful novelty confection known as the Bogdon Reception Stick. Born in Krakow, Poland in 1903, he emigrated to the United States with his parents when he was four years old.

Three-Point Safety Belt

In 1939, he completed his BS in mechanical engineering at Harnosand Laroveik. In 1942, he began working for Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget (Saab Aircraft Company) as an aircraft designer.

Condensed Milk

Gail Borden, Jr., creator of the first commercial process of condensing milk, was born in Norwich, New York on November 9, 1801.

Direct / reflecting audio speakers

Amar Bose used his instincts and education to produce stereo speakers that are world-famous for giving high-end performance despite their modest size.

The Modern Athletic Shoe

Rubber-soled shoes were first mass-marketed as canvas top "sneakers" by U.S. Rubber, with its Keds® in 1917.

Cloning of Genetically Engineered Molecules

Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen combined their efforts in biotechnology to invent a method of cloning genetically engineered molecules in foreign cells.

Improved Electrical Resistor

African American inventor Otis F. Boykin’s work on improved electrical resistors made possible the steady workings of a variety of now-ubiquitous electronic devices.

Control-Alt-Delete

If you’re a PC user, you’ve probably used “Control-Alt-Delete.” The well-known keystroke combo can get you out of a tight spot when your machine freezes up, but have you ever stopped to wonder how this technique actually came to be?

Rubber Lug Sole

Mountaineers, hikers, and everyday walkers alike have Turin, Italy, native and inventor Vitale Bramani to thank for creating the world’s first rubber lug sole, a shoe component that has become standard among outdoorsmen worldwide.

Foot Measuring Device

The Brannock Device is the standard foot measuring tool for the world’s footwear industry. But few people are able to call the device by name, much less identify its inventor, Charles Brannock.

Automotive air bags

Allen K. Breed is an inventor, entrepreneur, and pioneer in one of the most significant advances in automotive safety of recent times, the air bag.

MouseMitt

Heavy computer users, a group that includes millions of people and growing, know that wrist and hand pain is a common problem that can be incredibly debilitating and may prevent them from being able to do their work.

The antifungal drug Nystatin

One of the most famous tales in the history of American medical science is the long-distance collaboration of Elizabeth Lee Hazen (1885-1975) and Rachel Fuller Brown (1898-1980), who developed and patented a wonder drug of the 20th century: the world's first successful fungus-fighting antibiotic.

The "Idaho" Potato

At the age of 19, he was profoundly impressed by Charles Darwin's treatise "The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication," which opened up a new world to him.

Adding Machine

In the 1870s, he was working as a bank clerk at the Cayuga County National Bank in Auburn, New York where he became interested in solving the problem of creating an adding machine.

Catalytic Cracking

The crude oil upon which we depend for so many types of fuel and other products does not come out of the ground ready for all of its various uses.

The Memex

Vannevar Bush was a headstrong child who showed an early aptitude for math. After graduating high school, he enrolled at Tufts University in Massachusetts to study engineering.

Pong

Growing up in Utah in the 1940s, Bushnell had a childhood typical of a budding inventor. His early inspirations included a third grade science project on electricity. His early setbacks included nearly burning down his family’s garage with a homemade liquid-fuel rocket mounted on a roller skate.

Scrabble

After being laid off from his job at an architecture firm in 1931, Alfred Mosher Butts fell on hard times. He was out of work for quite some time when he decided to get creative.

Gatorade

What drink could be more integral to the American athletic scene than Gatorade?

Magnetic Recording Tape

Marvin Camras (1916-1995) invented the magnetic tape recording method that underlies most electronic and digital media, including audio, video cassettes, floppy disks, and credit card magnetic strips.

The Photocopier

Necessity is often called "the mother of invention." But sometimes, there are other reasons that people become innovative.

Polymeric Materials: Nylon and Neoprene

E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company once called Wallace Hume Carothers "one of the most brilliant organic chemists" the company had ever employed.

The air conditioner

One year after earning a master's degree in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University in 1901, Willis Haviland Carrier (1876-1950) developed and patented the world's first modern air conditioner.

Far-ultraviolet camera / spectrograph

Since the 1960s, George R. Carruthers has been a pioneer in the use of ultraviolet spectroscopy to learn more about the earth and the universe.

Baseball

Baseball, like the United States, evolved out of a British precedent into a unique and independent institution.

Power Loom

British reverend, poet, and lifelong inventor Edmund Cartwright was born on April 24, 1743 in Marnham, Nottingham, England and would later invent a device that set in motion dramatic changes affecting today’s worldwide textile industry.

Peanut Products

In the 1880s, agriculture began to be taken seriously as a science. George Washington Carver (1865-1943), born the slave of Missouri landowner Moses Carver, overcame the prejudices that did not die with the Emancipation Proclamation and became the foremost agricultural chemist of this new era.

Satellite Servicing Techniques

The advent of space flight and the widespread practice of putting satellites into orbit for communications purposes has posed a variety of challenges for scientists, engineers, and researchers this past half-century.

Biology-based solution for cleaning up toxic spills

Ananda Chakrabarty, PhD is a distinguished professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine (UIC).

Gene Sequencing

When Eugene Chan was a 23-year-old medical school student, he came up with an idea for mapping a genome quickly and inexpensively — by mimicking the way DNA naturally acts when it duplicates itself.

Rubber Bandits®

A seemingly simple idea can sometimes become an incredibly successful, mass-market product that makes life a little bit easier for millions of people. Such is the case with Rubber Bandits®, oversized rubber bands equipped with tear-resistant, waterproof labels, created by self-described “idea czar” Adrian Chernoff in 2004.

Electrochemical Actuators

Materials scientist Yet-Ming Chiang has developed breakthrough materials to enable new technologies such as stable, high-power, rechargeable batteries and novel electrochemical actuators.

Thin-film transistor technology

Anne Chiang is responsible for numerous accomplishments in electronic display devices and other computing technologies.

LEGO

In the first half of the 20th century, Danish carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen created one of the most beloved toys of all time, enjoyed all over the world by millions of children and quite a few adults as well.

CD34 disease cell marker

Curt Civin, King Fahd Professor of Oncology and Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University, has achieved wide recognition for an important discovery he made in 1984 – a stem-cell selection process that has made more effective and less toxic cancer therapies possible.

Cochlear Implant/Bionic Ear

Australian physician, scientist, and inventor Graeme Milbourne Clark changed the lives of tens of thousands of hearing-impaired individuals with his creation of the multi-channel cochlear implant.

Dishwashing Machine

Josephine Cochrane, inventor of the first commercially successful dishwashing machine, was born in Shelbyville, Illinois in 1839.

Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC)

In the early 1970s, John Cocke transformed computing by simplifying the set of instructions that tell computers which functions to perform.

Hovercraft

In 1955, British inventor and engineer Christopher Sydney Cockerell invented a swift water-transport vehicle that was not quite a boat, not quite a plane, but a hybrid of sorts: the hovercraft.

Colt Revolver

Regardless of one’s views on the use of firearms by private citizens, it is important to know about these powerful devices. Perhaps no other American brand name of firearm is better known than Colt, which began in 1836 with the creation of the Colt revolver.

Tetracycline

Lloyd H. Conover is credited with having invented the first antibiotic made by chemically modifying a naturally-produced drug. His creation, Tetracycline, has been one of the most frequently prescribed antibiotics in the United States for treating bacterial infections for several decades.

Jell-O

Peter Cooper is credited with the invention of one of the most uniquely American desserts of all time: “Jell-O.” Cooper was an engineer and philanthropist, active in politics and community affairs and known for a variety of inventions and accomplishments. He was born in New York City on February 12, 1791 and grew up in Peekskill, New York.

Super Glue™

The incredibly stable adhesive known as Super Glue ™ was invented by accident in 1942 by Dr. Harry Coover. Today the substance is somewhat of a household necessity, with uses ranging from simple woodworking and appliance repair to industrial binding and medical applications.

Pyrotechnic signaling system

Widowed at the age of 21, Martha Coston (1826-1904) of Philadelphia met the challenge of providing for her four children by inventing a system of maritime signal flares that would later help the North win the Civil War.

Aqua-lung

For centuries, human beings have been fascinated with the concept of being able to “breathe” underwater while exploring the deep blue sea. As early as the third century B.C., Aristotle is said to have made references to some type of breathing apparatus that would allow a person to stay underwater for an extended period of time.

The Supercomputer

What is a supercomputer? The term has traditionally meant any computer that can process 20 million math calculations per second. Today, a supercomputer is defined as the fastest computer available and can be thousands of times faster than the typical home computer.

Heat Transfer 

David Crosthwait (1898-1976), inventor and authority on heat transfer, ventilation, and air conditioning, was born in Nashville in 1898 and grew up in Kansas City, Missouri.  At that time, it was relatively rare for an African American man to achieve an esteemed reputation in the sciences, yet that is exactly what he did.

Potato Chip

The fine details surrounding the invention of one of the United States' favorite snack foods are somewhat hazy, but all signs point to a man named George Crum, a cook and restaurateur who is said to have come up with the idea for the tasty crisp.

Radioactivity Theory

Poland-born Maria Sklodowska Curie is remembered as one of the world’s most brilliant scientists. Her achievements are seen as all the more remarkable because she was a woman working in a male-dominated field.

Commercial Cesium Clock

Leonard Cutler was a pioneer in the field of ultraprecise timekeeping standards and devices for over forty years. 

Cutler was a veteran of the greater Silicon Valley scientific community.  He earned his BS (1958), MS (1960), and PhD (1966) in Physics from Stanford University, all while working at neighboring Hewlett-Packard Laboratories.  The mainstay of Cutler's work at HP had been developing atomic frequency standards and designing atomic chronometers.

Magnetic Resonance (MR) Scanning Machine


Raymond Damadian's intense curiosity and passion for science led him to develop the first MR (Magnetic Resonance) Scanning Machine – one of the most useful diagnostic tools of our time.  MR Scanners use radio signals emitted from the body's cells to enable a non-invasive mapping of the human body in meticulous detail. Raymond Damadian was awarded the Lemelson-MIT Program's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001 for his pioneering work in magnetic resonance scanning technology.

Insolia Shoe Sole

Women around the world have for centuries enthusiastically chosen to wear high-heeled shoes in the name of fashion, despite the pain and even serious injury they can inflict on the wearer, including toe, heel, knee, and back pain.

Windsurfing

In the summer of 1964, a new sport was born out of an idea conceived by Newman Darby while vacationing on Wyoming Mountain in Pennsylvania. That sport was windsurfing, and it quickly became a multi-million dollar industry.

Monopoly™


The board game Monopoly™ was itself the winner in a field of real estate games. The first, called "The Landlord's Game," was invented by Lizzie Magie of Virginia (patented in 1904). In this game, players rented properties, paid utilities, and avoided "jail" as they moved through the board. The game was intended to teach the iniquities of current realty and tax systems. But despite Magie's intentions, people enjoyed its fierce financial competition, and they began creating versions customized to reflect their own neighborhoods.

Velcro®


It may be difficult to imagine a world without Velcro®, but the fastening mechanism did not exist before George de Mestral created it in 1955.

Industry Standard Architecture System

When you plug your printer, keyboard, or monitor into your PC, the majority of the time you'll find that it simply works, no matter what brand your peripherals are or how long ago you purchased them.

SafetyCaps

Every parent knows that young children love to put just about any object they can find into their mouths, and that means small, seemingly harmless things can easily become big choking hazards. Inventor and entrepreneur George DeCell discovered this first-hand while caring for his young daughter, Sage, who found an outlet plug on the floor of the family home one day that had been removed from the outlet for just a few minutes while DeCell vacuumed nearby.

Self-Polishing Cast Steel Plow

John Deere, pioneer, inventor, and entrepreneur, singlehandedly revolutionized American agriculture by developing and marketing the world's first self-polishing cast steel plow. Born in Vermont in 1804, young Deere worked as a blacksmith's apprenticeship. By 1825, he was famous for the literal and figurative polish of his farm equipment, but later, when Vermont's economy began to suffer, he decided to emigrate to the Midwest in 1836. Two days after arriving in Grand Detour, Illinois, Deere had built a forge and was back in business.

Triode Amplifier

Lee De Forest (1873-1961) invented the device that made wireless radio broadcasting practicable: the "triode" or "audion" amplifier. At Yale University, De Forest helped pay his tuition with his mechanical and gaming inventions. He narrowed his focus to radio when he began working on his PhD, which he received in 1899. In his research, De Forest began to conceive of an improvement to the "diode" vacuum tubes being used at the time.

The "Smart Shoe"

Ronald S. Demon invented an athletic shoe whose cushion support automatically adjusts to suit not only the shape of the wearer's feet, but also the manner in which the shoe is being used at any given time.

Dynamic Random Access Memory

In 1967, Robert Heath Dennard invented what is considered one of the most significant advances in computer technology: one-transistor dynamic random access memory, or "DRAM."

PRINT® Technology

The massive, daily demand for solvents necessary for typical manufacturing and industrial processes used across the planet mean that sadly, after use, many of these often toxic substances are leaked back into our environment. From automotive and electronics manufacturing to water, paper, mining, and cleaning industries, enormous amounts of these substances tax our water supplies and all too often lead to contamination of our ground water and ecosystems.

Culinique line of Surprise Inside Food Molds

Jackie Diaz, creator of the Culinique line of Surprise Inside Food Molds, was born in 1959 in New York City. She and her family later moved to a farm in Granville, Ohio. Her father, a product developer for Bell Labs, and her mother, an artist, inspired her interest in both art and science. She was a budding inventor by age 12, when she designed and built a "duplex" rabbit hutch out of an old cupboard.

Band-Aids®

Though his name has been somewhat lost to history over the years, Earle Dickson (1893-1961) is responsible for the invention of one of the world’s most useful devices for the accident-prone: the Band-Aid® brand adhesive bandage.

Internal-Combustion Engine

Rudolf Diesel, born on March 18, 1858 in Paris, created the pressure-ignited heat engine known commonly as the diesel engine. After graduating from Munich Polytechnic, he began working as a refrigerator engineer for the Linde Ice Machine Company in Paris, moving to Berlin in 1890 to manage the company’s technical office. But his passion for engine design was never far from his mind. Diesel worked on an idea for an efficient thermal engine in his free time, completing a design by 1892 for which he received a patent a year later.

Terrafugia Transition

Until recently, the concept of a “flying car” has, for the most part, been merely the stuff of dreams and movies, like “Bladerunner” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” Thanks to aerospace engineer Carl Dietrich and his team, the idea that a personal transportation vehicle could be driven like a car, and also flown like an airplane, is getting much, much closer to reality.

Neuroelectric systems

Daniel DiLorenzo, an inventor since childhood, has created an impressive array of inventions in the fields of robotics and medical technology.

Multiplane Camera

Walt Disney, creator of Mickey Mouse and the Disney Studios empire, was born Dec. 5, 1901 in Chicago. He was raised on a farm in Missouri and was sketching by age five, selling his drawings to neighbors by the age of seven. At the age of 16, he tried to enlist in the military but was rejected because he was too young. Instead, he joined the Red Cross and was sent overseas, where he drove an ambulance that he covered with cartoons.

Dolby® Noise Reduction System

Ray Dolby, creator of his namesake audio system, was born on January 18, 1933 in Portland, Oregon. He began playing the piano at the age of ten and later took up the clarinet. As a youngster, he took an interest in sound, how it worked, and why the musical instruments he played sounded the way they did. He also developed an affinity for movies and photography. As a teenager, he met Alex Poniatoff, who had founded the tape recording company Ampex. Soon Dolby began working part-time for the company, where he contributed to the development of the first videotape recorder and gained an understanding of audio technology. He continued to work with the company until 1957.

Disposable Diaper

Like many famous inventors, Marion Donovan (1917-1998) was originally mocked for her most significant invention, but she succeeded in revolutionizing the infant care industry by inventing the disposable diaper.

Bromine Extraction

Herbert Henry Dow’s name is synonymous with chemical research due to the global success of the company he founded in 1895, the Dow Chemical Company. Born in Ontario, Canada on February 26, 1866, Dow studied chemistry at Case School of Applied Science (now Case Western Reserve University), where he received a BS degree in 1888. While working on a thesis project there, he was analyzing brine samples in sites around the country when he discovered that at some sites, particularly those located near oil wells in the Midland, Michigan area, the brine contained high concentrations of bromine, a chemical used primarily in medicines and photographic chemicals at the time.

Stabilizing Gyroscope

Charles Stark Draper created a variety of gyroscopic instruments that revolutionized the design of guidance and control systems for navigation, particularly for military applications. Born in Windsor, Missouri on Oct. 2, 1901, he attended the University of Missouri, moving on to Stanford University in 1919, where he completed a BA in psychology in 1922. Later that year, he entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he earned his SB in electrochemical engineering in 1926, an SM in 1928, and a ScD in physics in 1938.

Blood Bank

Charles Richard Drew, originator of the concept of a blood bank, was born in Washington, D.C. on June 3, 1904. He received a BA from Amherst College in 1926, where he excelled in both athletics and academics. He went on to earn an MD and a Master of Surgery degree from McGill University Medical School in Montreal in 1933. He became interested in blood research while working with British professor Dr. John Beattie in Montreal, and he pursued this interest as an intern and resident doctor during his two years at Montreal General Hospital.

Remote Control Locator

Twin sisters Kelli and Vanessa Dunn were born on October 23, 1974 in Santa Clara, California. Today, the ambitious young women are inventors of a device they call the "Missing Link," which allows television viewers to page their lost remote controls.

Dry, transparent, and flexible photographic films

Through a combination of research, experimentation, and entrepreneurship, George Eastman, born in 1854 in Waterville, New York, revolutionized photography and founded one of the world's best-known corporations.

High-speed stroboscopic photography

If ever an inventor left vivid, visual evidence of his achievements, it is Harold E. "Doc" Edgerton, who created some of the most memorable photographs of all time. In addition, Edgerton was an educator, engineer, and explorer.

Electric light bulb

Without a doubt, the greatest inventor of the modern era has been Thomas Edison. Many of his over one thousand inventions have profoundly changed the lives of nearly everyone in the world.

Topsy Tail

Inventor-entrepreneur Tomima Edmark left a successful career in marketing in 1989 when she launched her blockbuster hair accessory, the Topsy Tail. This extraordinary product earned her instant fame among the nation’s small-business set and put Edmark on an entrepreneurial path that continues to this day. She has since developed a series of additional consumer products, written several successful books, and created a variety of e-commerce websites.

Domo (Robot)

Robotics researcher, entrepreneur, and inventor Aaron Edsinger dreams of a day when intelligent robots may provide safe and reliable assistance to humans for a variety of everyday tasks. He has developed a humanoid, robotic torso, dubbed Domo, which brings that dream closer to a reality.

Electrocardiogram

Dutch physiologist, professor, and inventor Willem Einthoven performed research and invented concepts for recording electrical heart impulses that greatly evolved the field of cardiology and led to the development of one of the most important diagnostic tools in all of medicine: the electrocardiogram, or EKG. His adaptation of the string galvanometer made it possible to accurately measure variations in electrical potential caused by heart muscle contractions and to record them graphically.

Occustat System

Inventor-entrepreneur Clarence L. Elder was born in 1935 in Georgia. As a young man, he decided to pursue a career in the field of electronics. He enrolled in and graduated from Morgan State College (now Morgan State University) in Baltimore, Maryland, and it wasn’t long before he had patented technology that has become ubiquitous in office buildings and schools around the world – the Occustat system.

Anti-cancer and other lifesaving drugs

In a career spanning over 40 years, Gertrude Belle Elion invented some of the 20th century's most significant lifesaving drugs.

Cellular Technology

Today's cellular communications industry would not be what it is without the contributions made by Richard H. Frenkiel and Joel S. Engel, former employees of  AT&T's Bell Laboratories.

Computer Mouse

Years before personal computers and desktop information processing became commonplace or even practicable, Douglas Carl Engelbart had invented a number of interactive, user-friendly information access systems that we take for granted today: the computer mouse, windows, shared-screen teleconferencing, hypermedia, groupware, and more.

The Popsicle™

The ever-popular hot weather treat known as the Popsicle™ was invented by Frank Epperson when he was just eleven years old. Born in 1894, Epperson was raised in San Francisco. One winter night in 1905, he mixed a soft drink made with soda water powder and water – a popular concoction at the time. He left a stirring stick in it and mistakenly left it on the porch overnight.

Propeller

Swedish inventor John Ericsson, creator of the ship propeller, was born July 31, 1803 in Långbanshyttan, Wermelandia, Sweden. He was a born artist, gifted at the drawing board, and his talent in this area eventually led him to explore engineering. He and his brother, Nils, were highly intelligent and were noticed by colleagues of their father, Olof, when they were teenagers. They were asked to assist in designing a canal, a project for which Olof served as a director of blastings. By age 14, John was a topographical surveyor.

Xtracycle

For many people living in the United States, the bicycle is considered a recreational vehicle, or perhaps an occasional mode of personal transportation. Those in developing or Third World nations around the globe, however, see the bicycle as an indispensable tool not only for getting around, but also for carrying cargo. Tucson, Arizona native Ross Evans noted this as he traveled in Central America while pursuing degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Latin American Studies at Stanford University. His interest in this pair of subjects led him to ponder the problem of how to improve the bicycle’s ability to carry heavy loads. He realized that the device's usefulness was limited in many situations, despite the benefit of it being an inexpensive, efficient, and environmentally safe and clean means of transport.

Whirlwind Computer


Robert Everett and Jay Forrester were pioneers in the development of early digital computer equipment during the years many consider to be the most productive decade for computing technology: 1946-1956.

Outboard Boat Motor

Ole Evinrude (1877-1934), inventor and entrepreneur, founded an industry and managed a thriving company while remaining one of America's most honest and generous businessmen.

Electronic Television

Philo Farnsworth conceived the world's first all-electronic television at the age of 15. By the time he died, he had earned over 300 U.S. and foreign patents for electronic and mechanical devices.

Lite Lift Shovel

Tish Fearn, winner of the 2003 British Female Inventor of the Year award, wasn’t about to let tendonitis force her to quit taking care of horses. The South Africa native, who was born without a left hand, had been using a traditional shaving fork to muck out the stables at the National Equine Defence Society in Birkin, U.K. for years, and the task was becoming increasingly arduous.

Liquid crystal display (LCD)

James Fergason holds over 125 U.S. patents in liquid crystal technology, including the first practical use of liquid crystals. He is perhaps best known for his discovery of the twisted nematic field effect, which led to the creation of today’s liquid crystal displays (LCD).

The Ferris Wheel

George Ferris conceived, designed, and built an engineering marvel, which astonished the world at its debut and became a mainstay of American recreation.

Rechargeable Pacemaker Battery

Physicist Dr. Robert E. Fischell has earned nearly 200 U.S. and international patents over the course of his career, but he insists that his inventing proficiency happened by accident.

Super MoneyMaker Pump

Thousands of poor citizens of African nations such as Kenya have been able to transform their lives and build successful small businesses because of the ingenious inventions and non-profit support organizations created by Martin Fisher.

Zeolite Y

Chemist Edith Flanigen was born in Buffalo, New York on January 28, 1929. She received a BA from D'Youville College, where she graduated as class president and valedictorian, and continued her studies at Syracuse University. There, she completed an MS in inorganic physical chemistry in 1952.

Makin’ Bacon® Cooking Dish

Inspired by an offhand comment from her father, Abigail M. Fleck invented a new, quicker, and healthier way to cook bacon and founded a company to sell her product.

Penicillin

No scientific story illustrates the power of luck coupled with ingenuity quite like the tale of the discovery of penicillin. The scientist credited with the invention of this groundbreaking drug, Alexander Fleming, was born on August 6, 1881 in Ayrshire, Scotland. A bright student, Fleming worked in a shipping office for several years before returning to school to pursue a degree in medicine. He earned his MD, with honors, from St. Mary’s Medical School in London in 1908. He then worked for Almroth Wright's research team there, where he developed a strong interest in bacteriology.

Metallurgical Processes

Metallurgist and inventor Merton C. Flemings was born on Sept. 20, 1929 in Syracuse, New York. He first became intrigued with science in high school, inspired by a physics teacher. His research has focused, for more than 50 years, on ways to produce, recycle, and improve products through understanding and applying the underlying science of the materials those products are made of.

The Assembly Line

Most people credit Henry Ford with inventing the automobile. The fact is he didn't – such a complex machine is the result of a combination of technologies developed by many people over time. He did, however, invent the moving assembly line, which revolutionized the way we make cars and how much they cost.

Naturally colored cotton

When Sally Fox first saw brown cotton seeds and lint, she had no idea she was about to become a pioneer.

The Franklin Stove

Benjamin Franklin was probably the most significant “founding father” of the United States of America who never served as its President.  But he was much more than a statesman.  He was a man of letters, a publisher, a philosopher, a scientist, and the first major American inventor.

Cool Dog

Innovation can come in many forms, including tasty, creamy, edible ones. Just ask Peter Franklin, inventor of an entirely unique ice cream treat called the “Cool Dog,” which looks like, eats like, but doesn’t quite taste like an all-American hot dog.

Glyphosate Molecule

In 1970, organic chemist John E. Franz developed a new class of herbicide that allows for the destruction of difficult perennial and annual weeds without danger to nearby vegetation, soil, or animals, even bacteria. The glyphosate molecule, which he discovered and studied to develop its properties, has become the basis for the world’s most widely used type of herbicide and has helped change the face of agriculture by enabling the development of no-till farming.

Pop-Top Aluminum Can

Today, it’s easy to take for granted the experience of grabbing an ice-cold cola out of the cooler at the beach or at a picnic and popping it open instantly to drink when you wish. But before Ermal Cleon Fraze came up with his 1959 invention of the pop-top aluminum can, this was impossible. Canning foods and beverages were popular by then, of course, but openers or keys were necessary to get into the containers’ contents. Fraze changed that by coming up with a way to include an opening tool directly on the can itself.

Dip-and-read Home Diabetes Test

A distinguished chemist and promoter of science, Helen Murray Free invented a number of tests that revolutionized certain types of analyses in the laboratory and diagnoses at home.

Post-it® notes

In the 1970s, Art Fry invented what is probably the most significant office supply product since the paperclip: the Post-it® Note. But he could not have created this now ubiquitous item without the previous invention of his colleague, Spencer Silver.

The Geodesic Dome

R. Buckminster Fuller, New England transcendentalist and futurist inventor, sought to harmonize technology with nature. His most famous attempt is the geodesic dome.

Commercial Steamboat

Henry Ford did not invent the automobile; Samuel Morse did not invent the telegraph; nor did Robert Fulton invent the steamship. But like Morse and Ford after him, Fulton used his insight and energy to turn a challenge of engineering into a large-scale commercial success, thereby transforming the world.

The Self-Cleaning House

"Housework is a thankless, unending job, a nerve-twangling bore. Who wants it? Nobody! With my jaw set hard I was determined that there had to be a better way!" Frances Gabe of Newberg, Oregon was driven by her hatred of housecleaning to develop one of the most radical and yet practical inventions of all time: the self-cleaning house.

The Hologram

Dennis Gabor was born in Budapest, Hungary on June 5, 1900. As a youngster, he was interested in the inner workings of the things around him. At age ten, he designed a type of airplane-like carousel, and his parents helped him attain a patent for it. By the time he was a teenager, he had a small laboratory in his house where he worked on his own experiments in photography, radiation, and wireless x-rays and developed a passion for physics.

UV Waterworks

Among Ashok Gadgil's many inventions is a water disinfection system, which can provide healthy drinking water to at-risk populations for about seven cents per person per year.

The Gamow Bag®

Rustem Igor Gamow – scientist, classicist, professor, and adventurer – has invented a number of items that make it easier and safer to explore the outdoors.

Kinetic sculpture

We have seen how American art and invention can complement each other, from Harriet Hosmer and Caroline Brooks, to Patricia Billings and Temple Grandin, Arthur Ganson’s body of work is another example of how art and invention exist simultaneously in a single piece.

Geiger Counter

Nuclear physicist Hans Geiger, whose surname is known all over the world for his invention of the radioactivity measuring device known as the Geiger counter, was born Johannes Wilhelm Geiger in Neustadt-an-der-Haardt, Germany on September 30, 1882. He was one of five children born to Wilhelm Ludwig Geiger, a philosophy professor at the University of Erlangen.

The Skateboard

Since its invention and popularization, the skateboard has become a standard item of equipment for young Americans. Today, with skateboarding as popular as it has ever been, the skateboard can be seen as an icon of youthful energy and adventurousness.

The Gerber Variable Scale®

Heinz Joseph Gerber was born in 1924 in Vienna, Austria. By the age of eight, he was building motors and radios. By the time of his death in 1996, Gerber had earned more than 650 U.S. and international patents and had singlehandedly saved an American industry.

PostScript Programming Language

The ease with which today’s average consumer can engage in extremely robust, high-quality desktop publishing can be credited largely to the work of John Warnock and Charles “Chuck” Geschke, who founded Adobe Systems, Inc. in 1982 to deliver the programming language known as PostScript to printer and computing device makers.

Global Position System Technology (GPS)

Global Positioning System technology, or GPS, has in recent years become a part of mainstream society, available to individual consumers in the form of handheld GPS devices, as well as in vehicles like farm tractors, helicopters, trucks, and automobiles. This technology, which has the ability to pinpoint specific locations on the planet with near-perfect accuracy, was originally developed in the 1970s for military applications and has since been deployed in navigation, national defense, air traffic control, search and rescue, and environmental research.

Erector Set

A.C. Gilbert was one of the most multi-talented inventors of all time. With many fields open to his ingenuity, he chose to educate and entertain children through toys.

Electric Food Mixer

Lillian Moller Gilbreth, the mother of 12 children, had good reason to improve the efficiency and convenience of household items.  She earned her master’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley in 1902 and enrolled in a psychology program shortly after.

Disposable-Blade Safety Razor

At the last turn of the century, King Gillette founded what would become a corporate giant, based on a simple yet essential invention: the safety razor with disposable blades.

Videotape Recorder (VTR)

Inventor Charles Paulson Ginsburg, otherwise known as the “father of the video cassette recorder,” was born in San Francisco in 1920. He received his bachelor’s degree from San Jose State University in 1948 and worked as a studio and transmitter engineer at a San Francisco area radio station. He stayed there until 1951, when he received a telephone call from Alexander M. Poniatoff, founder and president of the Ampex Corporation in Redwood City, Calif., who believed that Ginsburg could help him with an important project.

Liquid-fueled rockets

Robert Hutchings Goddard was an inventor and visionary who, more than anyone else, paved the way for the Space Age.

Gene-RADAR

Inventor-entrepreneur Anita Goel is bringing medicine, physics, and nanotechnology together in technologies that she hopes will begin to change the way diagnostics are performed in areas as broad as healthcare, water and crop testing, and food, blood, and air screening.

Convoluted Executions of Simple Tasks

Rube Goldberg was an inventor of the absurd, a social critic who used cartoons to point out the plight of people caught up in an overly complicated world.

Long-playing (LP) Phonograph

Peter Carl Goldmark was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1906.  He studied physics at the University of Vienna, where he received his BS in 1929 and his PhD in 1931, and began his career working for a radio company in England. In 1933, he emigrated to the United States and worked as a construction engineer until 1936, when he joined CBS, or Columbia Broadcasting System, as Chief Engineer of the Television Department.

Crayon Holder

Kids love to draw with crayons, but when these ever-popular writing tools break into small pieces or when they’ve been used so much they’re worn down to tiny bits, they can be hard to use, especially for little hands.

Vulcanized Rubber

Through years of research and a single stroke of luck, Charles Goodyear saved the doomed rubber industry by inventing a process that made the material durable and resilient enough for industrial use.

High-speed Analog-to-digital Conversion

Bernard Gordon, founder, chairman, and CEO of Massachusetts-based Analogic Corporation holds more than 200 patents worldwide. A lifelong inventor, Gordon’s creations include the fetal monitor, the high-speed analog-to-digital converter, the instant imaging computer-aided tomography (CAT) scanner, Doppler radar, and an advanced bomb-detection device.

Gore-Tex Fabric

Breathable yet waterproof. When it comes to fabric, these two qualities would seem to be at odds with one another, and indeed they were, until 1969. That’s when the father-son team of Wilbert L. and Robert W. Gore developed a process that resulted in the miraculous product known as Gore-Tex, the world’s first breathable, waterproof fabric. The material is used in a wide and growing variety of products from outdoor equipment and apparel to insulation, sealants, and medical implants.

Laser

Gordon Gould was born in New York City in 1920. As a child, he idolized Thomas A. Edison and other inventors, with the encouragement of his mechanically-minded mother. Later, Gould himself would conceive and design one of the most significant inventions of the 20th century: the laser.

Electrogasdynamics systems

For over thirty years, Meredith C. Gourdine was a pioneer researcher and inventor in the field of electrogasdynamics.

Liquid Paper

Typists who are prone to making mistakes when using old-fashioned typewriters or word processors have Bette Nesmith Graham to thank for creating one of the most simple, yet lifesaving inventions in all of office-supply history: Liquid Paper.

Livestock handling devices

Temple Grandin is our nation’s most expert designer of humane facilities for livestock animals.

The Implantable Cardiac Pacemaker

After earning a BS from Cornell University and a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Buffalo and serving with the Navy in World War II, Wilson Greatbatch began working in medical research. One afternoon in the late 1950s, he was inspired by a mistake to invent one of the most significant medical devices of all time: the implantable cardiac pacemaker.

Aircraft Stall Warning Device

Leonard Greene holds patents on dozens of inventions in aviation technology – most notably, a device that warns pilots when they are in danger of experiencing a deadly aerodynamic stall.

Earmuffs

To grow up in Maine is to know cold weather. Maine native and lifelong inventor Chester Greenwood helped to alleviate one of the most persistent of discomforts associated with brutal winter weather with his invention of earmuffs in 1873.

Wristies®

A 1996 Gallup poll found that two thirds of American teenagers would like to found a company.  K-K Gregory, a ninth-grader from Bedford, Massachusetts, has been living that dream.  She became an inventor-entrepreneur in 1994, at the age of 10.

Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)

Computer scientist Irene Greif is one of a growing group of American women making important contributions in a typically male-dominated field. Greif, who was a mathematics standout at Hunter College High School in New York as a teenager, was the first woman to earn a doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1975.  She has also served as a faculty member there, appointed in 1982 as a principal research scientist. She headed up a research group in MIT’s Laboratory for Computer Science to develop shared calendar, coauthoring, and real-time collaboration systems.

Simpler Eyeglass Production Methods

Sydney, Australia native Saul Griffith has created technology that will simplify the method for producing eyeglass lenses. This, he hopes, will eventually allow those around the world who could previously not afford eyeglasses to obtain them via the low cost and improved availability this technology will provide.

The Walkie-Talkie

The nonpareil pioneer of wireless telecommunications is Al Gross.  In 1938, he invented the walkie-talkie.  In 1948, he pioneered Citizens’ Band (CB) radio.  In 1949, he invented the telephone pager.  His other inventions include the basics of cordless and cellular telephony.

The Uno

It’s no secret that automobiles have created plenty of problems around the world, not the least of which include air pollution and street congestion. Forward-thinking individuals have begun to create a variety of innovative, alternative forms of transportation to help remedy the situation.

Xerography

The everyday actions of any office worker undoubtedly involve making a photocopy. Though we take this seemingly simple, yet extremely helpful, time-saving operation for granted, only through the ingenious work and perseverance of people like Robert W. Gundlach are we able to so carelessly rely on the technology.

Water-based Fuels

Rudolf Gunnerman of Reno, Nevada has invented a safe, inexpensive, environment-friendly fuel that could revolutionize transportation and counteract the world's most prevalent source of pollution – the 3 billion gallons of petroleum burned every day worldwide.

Movable Type Printing Press

The printing press, invented by German goldsmith Johann Gutenberg in 1448, has been called one of the most important inventions in the history of humankind. For the first time, the device made it possible for the common man, woman, and child to have access to books, which meant that they would have the unprecedented ability to accumulate knowledge.

Pez Dispenser & Candy

Eduard Haas’ name may be unfamiliar to most people, but the case couldn’t be more different when it comes to his 1927 invention: Pez candy and the original Pez dispenser.

Process for the Manufacture of Aluminum

Eight months after graduating from Oberlin College in 1885 with a bachelor's degree in chemistry, Charles Martin Hall (1863-1914) invented an inexpensive method for the production of aluminum.

Food Preservation Methods

Like his coeval Frederick Jones, Lloyd Augustus Hall played a major role in the American food industry.  While Jones revolutionized food transportation, Hall invented ways to preserve the foods themselves.

Semiconductor Injunction Laser

In 1962, Robert Hall created a revolutionary type of laser that is still used in many of the electronic appliances and communications systems that we use every day.

Radio-operated Remote Control Systems

John Hays Hammond was both a whimsical and practical inventor:  his interests ranged from music and cooking to electronics and torpedoes.  Born into a privileged family in 1888, Hammond would never have to look far for inspiration to invent; among his family’s friends were the Wright brothers, Thomas Edison, and Nikola Tesla. 

Capacitor-less Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) Cell


As an Electrical Engineering PhD student at Yale University, one of Jin-Ping Han’s projects turned from a failure to a success very quickly. For over a year, she had been working hard on developing a semiconductor memory device that could store data for a decade or more in a computer’s hardware. When she realized her device had a much shorter memory span than she had hoped for (around ten minutes rather than ten years), she assumed her work had all gone to waste.


The Barbie Doll

In 1959, Ruth Handler invented something that became so quintessentially American as to be included in the official "America's Time Capsule," buried at the celebration of the Bicentennial in 1976: the Barbie doll.

CompuRest Keyboard Stand

Anyone who uses a computer regularly should know how important it is to pay attention to body and wrist position in order to avoid excessive strain. New York native Joanna Nayer Hardin, known alternatively as “The Computer Lady” or Harlem’s “Computer Diva,” learned how to type in 1966 and was typing regularly on the job by the 1970s.

Genome-based therapeutics

William Haseltine – biophysicist, professor, inventor, and entrepreneur – has been a leader in the international effort to use human genes to battle disease, especially AIDS.

PalmPilot

The ubiquitous handheld organizer known as the PalmPilot was first conceived in 1992. Its inventor, Jeff Hawkins, initially set out to conduct research related to the function of the human brain. He was interested in the ways in which the brain acquires and stores information, which, in essence, develops intelligence. His creation of the world’s most popular personal digital assistant grew out of his interest in this field and has since launched an entire new industry.

Polymer Cable Sheath

Walter Lincoln Hawkins was born on March 21, 1911. He was orphaned as a young child and was raised by his sister.  He faced a difficult upbringing in a world where it was difficult for African Americans to find adequate encouragement in education and at work. He attended the acclaimed, all-black Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C., where he showed promise in math and science and developed a sense of self-confidence that propelled him toward his dreams.

The Antifungal Drug Nystatin

One of the most famous tales in the history of American medical science is the long-distance collaboration of Elizabeth Lee Hazen (1885-1975) and Rachel Fuller Brown (1898-1980), who developed and patented a wonder drug of the 20th century: the world's first successful fungus-fighting antibiotic.

Rocket-based Surveillance Systems

When Andrew Heafitz was a child, family members could tell by his passion for rockets, airplanes, Legos, and building toys that he was a natural engineer. By the time he was in junior high school, he was creating gadgets, including a high-speed camera made of balsa wood that he flew in a model rocket. He applied for and received his first U.S. patent for the camera shutter. In high school, he was a Science Talent Search Finalist.

Liquid Crystal Display (LCD)

Liquid crystal scientist George H. Heilmeier was born in 1936 in Philadelphia. He earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and then moved on to Princeton where he earned MA, MSE, and PhD degrees in solid-state electronics. Soon after graduation, he joined RCA Laboratories, where his work on various electronic and electro-optic devices led to his promotion to Head of Solid State Device Research in 1966.

Vacuum Ice Cream Freezer

Beulah Louise Henry of Memphis, Tennessee was born in 1887 and was dubbed "Lady Edison" in the 1930s. She earned 49 patents, but her inventions number around 110. Her first patent was granted in 1912 for a vacuum ice cream freezer. Later, Henry invented an umbrella with a set of different-colored snap-on cloth covers (1924). She also invented – literally overnight – the first bobbinless sewing machine (1940).

In 1932, Henry invented the "Protograph" for use in businesses. The device made four typewritten copies of documents at a time without carbon paper.  She also created "continuously-attached envelopes" to aid in mass mailings (1952). For children, Henry invented "Dolly Dips," which were soap-containing sponges (1929) and the "Miss Illusion" doll, a doll whose eyes could change color and close as if in sleep (1935).

Electron Microscope

James Hillier was born in Brantford, Ontario, Canada on August 22, 1915. He was interested in art as a youngster, and he first believed that he would pursue a career as an artist. But his natural talent for math and physics won him a scholarship to the University of Toronto, where he and fellow student Albert Prebus would later build the world's first practical electron microscope.

Unfolding structures

Chuck Hoberman is all at once an inventor, artist, engineer, and architect, whose expandable, collapsible structures are both practical and pleasing to the eye.

SILLY PUTTY®

A combination of history, engineering, accident, and entrepreneurship produced one of the most successful toys of the twentieth century – Silly Putty®.

The Microprocessor

Before the invention of the microprocessor, computers used to take up acre-sized rooms. Different integrated circuit chips were needed for every application that a computer performed. The relatively inexpensive and compact central control systems that we know today didn't exist until Ted Hoff invented the microprocessor.

Aspirin

No doctor’s office or medicine cabinet is complete without a supply of aspirin, the world’s most popular and, in many ways, miraculous painkiller. This multi-purpose drug was first stabilized and patented during a three-year span from 1897 to 1900 by Felix Hoffman, a chemist with Friedrich Bayer & Co. in Germany.

Visual Voice(TM) telephony software

Krisztina Holly is an inventor and entrepreneur with roots at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  Her co-inventions in computer telephony include a system that was eventually sold for nearly $13 million.

Enzyme Treatment for Lactose Intolerance

Delicious and satisfying, milk and milk products contain a variety of important nutrients such as calcium and riboflavin, which are important for good health. However, millions of people are unable to enjoy a cold glass of milk because they suffer from a condition known as lactose intolerance. These individuals lack an enzyme called lactase in their intestines that is necessary for breaking down lactose, the main type of sugar found in milk.

DNA Sequencer

Scientist and inventor Leroy Hood grew up in Montana. He studied biology at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and received his BS degree in 1960. Four years later, he received his MD from Johns Hopkins University, and he achieved his PhD in biochemistry at Caltech in 1968.

Computerized Telephone Switching System

One of the most well-rounded American inventors since World War II is Erna Schneider Hoover. She earned a BA with honors from Wellesley College in medieval history and a PhD from Yale University in philosophy and foundations of mathematics before teaching for some years at Swarthmore College. Finally, in 1954, Hoover accepted a research position at Bell Laboratories in northern New Jersey. There she created a computerized switching system for telephone call traffic and earned one of the first software patents ever issued.

The United States Flag

When the United States of America was born on July 4, 1776, it did not have an official national flag. However, one of the many different standards then carried by Continental troops, known as the Grand Union, can be considered the first true U.S. Flag, in that it was sanctioned by General George Washington. It borrowed the British King's Colours for its upper left corner (the “canton"), with the body of the flag taken up by 13 red and white stripes that represented the Colonies. Washington first had the Grand Union raised on Prospect Hill in Somerville, Massachusetts, on New Year's Day in 1776, for the inauguration of the Continental Army.

The Compiler

The achievements of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, which include, most notably, the invention of the compiler, cemented her place at the forefront of the computing revolution that began in the early 1940s. Trained as a mathematician, her career spanned six decades. During this time, she remained simultaneously connected with several disciplines and industries, including academia, industry, and the U.S. military.

Digital Micromirror Device

Larry Hornbeck spent nearly two decades developing a revolutionary technology that has, in recent years, begun to offer consumers the chance to enjoy some of the most sophisticated digital imagery ever available. The invention, known as DMD, or the digital micromirror device, is at the core of a system called DLP®, or Digital Light Processing, from Texas Instruments. DLP has brought crystal clear digital images to hundreds of local movie theaters via digital projection systems and to thousands of homes via high-definition television sets. The technology has, in many ways, reset the bar for the visual quality of motion pictures and television programming.

Illuminated Nut Driver

When Kristin Ann Hrabar was just nine years old, she had a simple idea for a device that solved a common problem. Her father asked her to hold a flashlight over a tight space that he was working in while he fixed a household item with a screwdriver. She thought this would have been a lot easier for both of them if the tool had a light source of its own. That’s when she began working on the illuminated nut driver, which she turned into a successful project for her third grade science fair.

"Pick-and-place” Nano-Assembly Machine

Brian Hubert says he never goes to sleep without a pen and notebook by his nightstand so that he can record ideas for new inventions. He obviously had the right idea. In March 2001, he had two patents with three pending and was chosen as the 2001 recipient of the $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for his invention.

Microphone


David Edward Hughes was born in London, England in 1831. His family was musically talented – he, his sister, and his two brothers were considered prodigies, and the family performed together around the world. In 1838, the Hughes family emigrated to the United States.
 

Safety Pin

Mechanic and independent inventor Walter Hunt secured a place in American history when he invented the useful, everyday device known as the safety pin in 1849.

Silica

Chemist James Franklin Hyde, the “Father of Silicones,” is credited with launching the silicone industry in the 1930s after he developed a method of creating silica, an ultra-pure form of glass.

Brassiere

After decades of stuffing themselves into seemingly barbaric undergarments, mostly of a corset-like nature, women around the world finally began to get fed up.  In 1913, a New York socialite decided to do something about it. The first modern brassiere was created by Mary Phelps Jacob. She patented her design, and now the brassiere is a standard part of nearly every modern woman’s wardrobe.

Personal Watercraft

A relatively recent but immensely popular addition to summertime leisure activities in the United States is the personal watercraft (PWC). Such vehicles have made it possible for people from all walks of life to enjoy fast-paced recreation on the open water without the encumbrance or expense of a full-sized boat.

Slinky

Like Silly Putty, the Slinky® was an accidental by-product of World War II research and development that was transformed into a hugely successful children's toy.

Jarvik-7 Artificial Heart

Robert Koffler Jarvik, inventor of the first permanently-implantable artificial heart, was born in Michigan on May 11, 1946. He demonstrated his mechanical aptitude early, having invented such useful devices as a surgical stapler and other medical tools when he was just a teenager.

Helium-Neon Laser


Physicist Ali Javan invented one of the most practical and widely used types of lasers, the gas laser. Created in 1960, his helium-neon laser was the first to provide a continuous beam of light, making it possible to use the technology in fiber optics for telecommunications, medicine, and a variety of other scientific and consumer applications.

Xanthan gum

Listed among the ingredients of countless foods, such as salad dressing, ice cream, canned soup, and condiments, is a mysterious-sounding substance called xanthan gum. This groundbreaking product and a process for producing it in large quantities was discovered in the 1950s by chemist Allene Rosalind Jeanes. It has since become an indispensable thickening and texturizing agent not only for foods but also for a wide range of cosmetic, automotive, and healthcare products.

Patent System

Most of us know Thomas Jefferson as the man who authored the Declaration of Independence, the United States’ first Secretary of State, the third U.S. President, and the founder of the University of Virginia. But Jefferson was also an inventor with many accomplishments, including his great influence in the area of patent law.

Genetic Fingerprints

It may be difficult to imagine a world without the now-indispensable tool known as genetic fingerprinting, which analyzes the unique patterns found in human and animal DNA to determine an individual’s biological identity. But in fact, this scientific breakthrough, also known as DNA fingerprinting, was discovered fairly recently, in 1984, by British scientist Alec John Jeffreys at the University of Leicester, England. It is used around the world today in forensics, paternity testing, and for wildlife classification.

The Sunbeam “Mixmaster”

In the years between the First and Second World Wars, Ivar Jepson designed and built dozens of kitchen appliances, including the indomitable Sunbeam “Mixmaster.”

Apple Computer

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the duo who began Apple Computer in 1976, are among the most well-known revolutionaries of the computing age. Their invention of the first true personal computer changed people’s ideas of what a computer could look like and what it could do to make their lives easier and their work more efficient. Apple continues to be one of the most popular brands of personal computing devices in the world.

Train Detecting Device

Like many inventors, Charles Johnson started inventing around the time he started grade school.  However, with his high school graduation approaching, he had already produced a portfolio of health and safety inventions that few young inventors can match.

The SuperSoaker®

For years, Lonnie G. Johnson has been inventing thermodynamics systems for NASA and other organizations, but he won his greatest fame for re-inventing the squirt gun.

Random Access Memory (RAM)

Reynold Johnson was born in 1906 in Minnesota. He attended the University of Minnesota, achieving his BS in education administration in 1929. He then began teaching science and math at a local high school.

Refrigeration Technology

Frederick McKinley Jones (1893-1961) applied the mechanical experience that he gained at work and at war to revolutionize two industries: cinema and refrigeration.

Conformal antenna systems

In a career spanning over forty years, Howard S. Jones, Jr. has become one of our nation's most respected inventors and mentors in advanced antenna systems.

Permanent Wave Machine

A revolution in the beauty industry occurred during the early 1920s when a group of female African American inventors developed products and processes with black women’s particular needs in mind. The aim was to help them to feel good about their looks and begin to improve their societal status in the United States and around the world.

The Zipper

Most of the fastening devices used in clothing today, like the shoelace, the button, and the safety pin, have existed in some form in various cultures for thousands of years. But the zipper was the brainchild of one American inventor, namely, Whitcomb Judson of Chicago.

Synthesis of Cortisone

Born in Montgomery, Alabama in 1899, Percy Lavon Julian, the grandson of a former slave, overcame a lifetime of discrimination by becoming an internationally acclaimed inventor of synthetic (man-made) medicines.

Helicopter Innovations

Charles H. Kaman has been a leading inventor and businessman in the helicopter industry for over 50 years.

IBOT Mobility System and the Segway

Inventor Dean Kamen has forged a career based on two separate but equally important goals: to improve the lives of others through technology and innovation and to promote opportunities in science, engineering, and invention to young people through education.

Improved Bellows

Nathan Kane received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He succeeded in making a major improvement to a technology that has existed since the Bronze Age: bellows.

X-ray crystallography

Isabella Karle is a true pioneer of physical chemistry, who invented new methods, using first electron and then x-ray diffraction to study the structure of molecules.

Ozone-based sterilization

In his career of over 60 years, Eskil Karlson has produced about 100 inventions. His most impressive efforts have converted a poison into a purifier: ozone-based sterilization systems.

“Smalltalk” Programming Language

Computing pioneer Alan Curtis Kay, creator of the "Smalltalk" programming language, was born in 1940 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to Australia where they lived for a few years before moving permanently back to the United States. He learned to read by age three and gained an early appreciation for music, thanks to his mother, a musician. He would later work as a professional jazz guitarist, composer, and theatrical designer and become adept as a classical pipe organist.

“K Brick”

Anna Wagner Keichline was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania in 1889. By the time she was a teenager, it was clear that she was an extraordinary woman who wasn’t going to let the era’s gender barriers hold her back from pursuing her goals. One of four children, her parents encouraged her to develop her natural talent for carpentry and mechanics. She was fortunate enough to have been given her own carpentry tools and a home workshop, and by age fourteen, she was locally known as a skilled craftswoman after winning a prize at the Centre County Fair for an oak table that she built herself.

Kellogs Corn Flakes®

What would breakfast be without Kellogg’s Corn Flakes®? The inventor of this classic cold cereal, eaten around the world every day for nearly a century, was Will Keith Kellogg, born on April 7, 1860 in Battle Creek, Michigan.

All-electric automobile systems

Charles Franklin Kettering invented dozens of important devices, but he is best known as the founder of Delco, the company who brought automobiles into the Age of Electricity.

Integrated Optical Add/Drop Filter

A team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduate students conquered a major challenge of high-capacity optical communications by inventing a device that can splice a single signal into or out of the many that are being transmitted together along a fiberoptic line.

Patented Straw Weaving Technique

Though little is known about the details of her life, Mary Dixon Kies has become a familiar name in U.S. history as the first woman ever to be issued a U.S. patent.
 

The Microchip

Although he has over 60 patents to his credit, Jack Kilby would justly be considered one of the greatest electrical engineers of all time for one invention: the monolithic integrated circuit, or microchip (patent #3,138,743). The microchip made microprocessors possible, and therefore allowed high-speed computing and communications systems to become efficient, convenient, affordable, and ubiquitous.

Microhand

A tiny, mechanical hand that, when closed, is no larger than a pinhead may have the potential to perform delicate tasks, such as to help physicians perform microsurgeries or to aid robots in defusing bombs.  Chang-Jin "CJ" Kim invented the device with the help of Yen-Wen Lu, dubbing it the “Microhand.”

Genetic breast cancer detection


In a 25-year career of research, education, and activism, Mary-Claire King has succeeded not only in scientific innovation but also in making the world a better place.

Computer Database Systems

Louise Kirkbride, pioneer of computer technologies for customer service, showed her promise as an innovator at age 17, when, against her parents wishes, she left her Philadelphia home for southern California. She had been awarded a full scholarship to the California Institute of Technology (CalTech), where she was a member of the college's first class that included women. She earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering from CalTech, all while waiting tables on campus to earn enough money to pay for books and supplies, as well as learning to fly.

Acoustic Loudspeaker, Home Theatre

In the consumer electronics industry, inventor Henry Kloss has achieved legendary status. While working at Acoustic Research in 1952, Kloss and engineer Edgar Villchur created the first acoustic suspension loudspeaker, the AR-1. This bookshelf-sized speaker could deliver deep bass sounds. It was the first speaker of its kind, and many say it changed the industry forever.

La-Z-Boy Recliner

There was a time when furniture was upright and formal, when seating was relatively hard and rigid and demanding of proper posture. A pair of American cousins from Monroe, Michigan changed all that with their invention of the world’s first reclining chair.

Kidney Dialysis Machine

Willem Kolff, creator of the first kidney dialysis machine, was born on February 14, 1911 in Leyden, Holland. He became interested in medicine as a child, spending a great deal of time learning from his father, Jacob Kolff, who was the director of the Tuberculosis Sanatorium at Beekbergen. Kolff graduated from the Leyden Medical School in 1938, and in 1941, he received a PhD and graduated summa cum laude from the University of Groeningen.

Kurzweil Reading Machine

Raymond Kurzweil is one of the world’s true pioneers in the field of human-computer interfacing. Born in Queens, New York in 1948, Kurzweil grew up in an academic family. His grandmother was one of the first women in Europe to earn a PhD in chemistry. His parents were artists—his father was a musician and conductor and his mother was a visual artist—who encouraged young Kurzweil’s creativity. At the age of five, he began building his own model boats, cars, and rocket ships. He built a simple computing device when he was 12, and he also learned how to program with the help of his uncle, an engineer at Bell Labs.

Kevlar®

Relying on experience and instinct, Stephanie Kwolek invented one of the modern world’s most readily recognized and widely used materials:  Kevlar®.

Stethoscope

French physician and inventor René Théophile Hyacinthe Laennec sealed his place in history with a number of important contributions to the medical field. A pulmonary disease pioneer, he introduced the diagnostic method known as mediate auscultation and invented the device that no modern doctor can live without, the stethoscope.

Military Communications System

Silver Screen actress Hedy Lamarr (born in 1914) enjoyed one of the more memorable careers in Hollywood. Her name still ranks among the brightest lights in the history of movies. But what many people may not know is that she helped the Allies win World War II.

Controlled Drug Delivery


Years after receiving a Gilbert Chemistry Set as a young boy, Robert S. Langer is still committed to learning and discovering in chemistry. The only active member of all three U.S. National Academies – Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine – Langer holds 320 patents, alone or with others, in the fields of biomedical and chemical engineering, biomaterials, and controlled drug delivery.

The Pocket Diaper

Chelsea Lanmon’s inspiration for her first and most prominent invention was completely practical.  At the age of five, she would help her mother change her baby brother Corbin’s diapers.  Chelsea knew first-hand the various paraphernalia and steps that this entailed, and she resolved to create a more efficient system.  Her solution was the “Pocket Diaper.”

The carbon-filament light bulb

Lewis H. Latimer was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1848. Along with Granville T. Woods, Latimer was one of the first major African American inventors. He first worked as an assistant to Alexander Graham Bell.

The Cyclotron

After earning a BS from his home state's University of South Dakota (1922) and a PhD in Physics from Yale University (1925), Ernest Orlando Lawrence joined the Physics faculty at the University of California at Berkeley (1927). Here, he soon invented one of the most essential apparatus of nuclear physics: the cyclotron (granted patent #1,948,384 in 1931).

Vehicle Turn Indicator & Full-Stop Signal

It wasn’t an engineer, an auto mechanic, or a scientist who came up with two of the most indispensable early automobile innovations that are now included on every car today. Rather, it was a Hollywood starlet, Florence Lawrence, who created the first turn indicator as well as the full-stop signal activated by applying the footbrake.

Computer Tomography (CT) Scanner

Robert S. Ledley, inventor of the full-body Computer Tomography (CT) scanner, was born in 1926 in New York City. He studied dentistry, receiving a DDS from the New York College of Dentistry in 1948 and went on to earn an MA degree in theoretical physics from Columbia University in 1950.

“The Gripper”

Inventors often speak of a phenomenon that they call the “aha moment” – the moment an ingenious solution to a problem pops into their heads with sudden clarity and certainty. One never knows when an “aha” moment is going to come, but for inventor Nicki Lehrer, hers came while she was making covers for her schoolbooks. She was 11 years old at the time.

 

Differential and Integral Calculus

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was born in Leipzig, Germany on June 21, 1646. His father died when he was just five years old. He was raised by his mother, whose religious and moral beliefs fostered his interest in philosophy. He taught himself to read Latin by age twelve and started studying Greek. In grade school, he learned about Aristotle’s logic and theory of categorizing knowledge, but he was dissatisfied with what he was learning and began working on his own ideas for ordering logical truths. This would later develop into his ability to perform difficult mathematical proofs.

Machine Vision Technology

Jerome H. Lemelson (1923-1997) was one of the most prolific American inventors of all time. His inventions, for which he amassed more than 500 patents, include essential parts of dozens of products in common use today, including the VCR, camcorder, Walkman®, cordless phone, fax machine, data and word processing systems, and industrial robots.

Furnace

David Lennox was born in Detroit, Michigan on April 15, 1855. He was the son of an expert railroad mechanic, and it was clear early on that Lennox had inherited his father's mechanical ability. He quickly became interested in tools and machinery and discovering how things worked.

The World's Smallest Keyboard

David Levy of Manhattan Beach, California, received his doctoral degree in Mechanical Engineering at MIT in 1997 and has been inventing since the age of 9. His inventions range from mechanical to medical, but perhaps the most notable is his "Micro-Miniature Ergonomic Keypad," the world's smallest "full-size" keyboard.

Toys & Games


In the past twenty years, independent inventor Richard C. Levy has co-developed over 200 toys and games, including one of the most popular toys of recent years, the Furby.

"Heavy Water"

Gilbert Newton Lewis, one of the most influential and admired scientists of the twentieth century, was a pioneer in both chemistry and physics.

Advances in Heavier-Than-Air-Flight

Aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal designed and built several novel, unpowered gliders with which he was able to demonstrate the concept of heavier-than-air flight. Subsequent to his series of well-publicized experiments, engineers were able to build on his findings and research methods on a course toward developing the world’s first manned aircraft.

Integrated Optical Add/Drop Filter


A team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduate students conquered a major challenge of high-capacity optical communications by inventing a device that can splice a single signal into or out of the many that are being transmitted together along a fiberoptic line.

Tha National Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The most visited public American artwork of the 20th century is the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial, designed by Maya Lin.

“Buoying Device”

The 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, is known for many accomplishments, not the least of which is guiding the nation through the Civil War. One of his achievements that is little known is his success as an inventor. He is the only U.S. President to have ever received a patent, which was granted on March 10, 1849 for a device for “buoying vessels over shoals."

The Kiddie Stool

Jeanie Low of Houston, Texas created her best known invention, the Kiddie Stool, while she was still in kindergarten.

Bacteriophage

Bacterial infections affect hundreds of thousands of people in the United States every year, and in some cases, they are serious, even fatal. Though scientists have developed a number of effective antibiotics to fight off harmful bacteria, many of these microscopic organisms have developed resistance to such medications. This, combined with the fact that developing antibiotic drugs is extremely expensive and resource-intensive for drug companies, means that the overall effectiveness of this class of medications could be poised to decline.

Biofuel Advances

Biologist, inventor, and engineer Lee Rybeck Lynd has devoted his career to developing processes for improving the feasibility of using biofuels as a mainstream, alternate energy source.

Gossamer Condor


For thousands of years, human beings have watched birds soar through the skies and dreamed of one day flying in a similar fashion, using their own power. Inventor Paul MacCready brought that dream to life in 1977 when he created the world’s first human-powered aircraft, the Gossamer Condor.

Medical Imaging Systems


Professor Albert Macovski has been called "the most inventive person" at Stanford University. Macovski has won this high praise by establishing himself, with over 150 patents in the last 50 years, as the nation's foremost authority on computerized imaging systems, especially those used in medicine.

Teleoperated surgical instruments

Akhil Madhani invented robotic instruments for use in fields as diverse as surgery and space exploration when he was a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Wireless Telegraphy


Radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi was born in Bologna, Italy, on April 25, 1874, to an Italian father and Irish mother.  Educated in physics at the technical school in Leghorn, Marconi had, by the age of 20, become very interested in the works of Heinrich Herz, who had discovered and first produced radio waves in 1888. Marconi was convinced that communication among people was possible via wireless radio signaling. In 1895, he began to experiment at his father’s home in Pontecchio, where he was soon able to send signals over one and a half miles.

Cinematic Background System

George D. Margolin has been a professional inventor and product developer for over 30 years, with successes in the realms of optics, computers, commerce, and medicine.

M&M’s®

Chocolate lovers around the world have none other than Forrest E. Mars, Sr. to thank for the milk chocolate candies that “melt in your mouth, not in your hand.” The candy, of course, is M&Ms®. Not only did Mars invent, patent, and market the creation, but he also built a chocolate candy empire via the multinational conglomerate that would become M&M/Mars, Inc.

“Ordinary, Everyday Products”

Over  70 years, Stanley I. Mason, Jr.  invented dozens of items that Americans use every day, in their clothing, grooming, and dining.

Haptic Computer Interface

Thomas H. Massie of Vanceboro, Kentucky had many inventions to his credit as a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The most impressive was a computer interface system that takes virtual reality to a new level.

Advances in Cancer Treating Drugs

In 1999, biotechnologist Jennie P. Mather set out to challenge conventional thinking when it comes to advanced pharmaceutical development. With nearly three decades of experience in cell biology research behind her, she embarked on her own path to launch a company to produce novel therapeutics targeted toward specific diseases. She used a process that closely analyzes the surface of a disease cell to develop antibodies that disable proteins on the surface of cells that are necessary for the disease to grow. She hopes that drugs created using this process will not only have a relatively fast development time, but will also become effective treatments for a variety of cancers, such as breast, prostate, lung, colon, pancreatic, and ovarian cancers.

“Lasting Machine”


Jan Ernst Matzeliger was born in 1852 in Paramaribo, Surinam (Dutch Guiana) to a Dutch engineer father and a native black Surinamese mother. The enterprising youngster showed early mechanical aptitude, and at just ten years old, he was already working in the machine shops that his father supervised. When he was 19, he left Surinam to sail the world and later to seek work in the United States. In 1873, he settled in Philadelphia.
 

ENIAC (Electonic Numerical Integrator And Computer)

John William Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert are the scientists credited with the invention of the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer (ENIAC), the first general-purpose electronic digital computer, which was completed in 1946.

Tune-O-Matic Bridge

In the guitar world, inventor Ted McCarty made his mark as an innovative instrument designer during the 1950s and early 1960s as the President of Gibson, Inc.

Mechanical Reaper

Cyrus McCormick, the "Father of Modern Agriculture," made one of the most significant contributions to the United States' prosperity when he invented the horse-drawn reaper in 1831.

Automatic Oil Cup

Frequently, if people want to make sure to get "the real thing" – a quality product or service – they ask for "the real McCoy." It's not certain where this phrase comes from, but many believe that it started with Elijah McCoy, one of the most prolific inventors in American history.

Robot Ants

Long Island, New York native James McLurkin loved working with Legos, models, and bicycles as child. But his tinkering went beyond mere child’s play. Soon, he was assembling parts and creating new toys from objects that he found around the house.  As a teenager, he was inspired to build his first robot, “Rover,”  which he completed during his sophomore year in high school. By the time he finished high school, he had created three robots on his own.

Player Piano

John McTammany (1845-1915) has been credited with the invention of the player piano. He also patented several devices that were important to the development of automatic piano construction.  However, it has been said that credit must be shared with many others, both in the United States and in Europe, for having contributed important principles and components to what became a very popular distraction during the early part of the 20th century.

Structured Custom Design of Integrated Circuits

Carver Mead has made many of the Information Age’s most significant advances in microcircuitry, which are essential to the internet access and global cellular phone use that many people enjoy and take for granted every day.

The Glove and Battie Caddie

Austin Meggitt's invention, the Glove and Battie Caddy, solves a problem that has plagued young baseball and softball players for decades: how to transport their gear when riding their bikes.

Ethernet

Robert M. "Bob" Metcalfe, developer of Ethernet and other Internet-related technologies, was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1946. Fascinated by technology and gadgets as a child, he already knew at the age of ten that he wanted to become an electrical engineer and attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Roller Coaster Safety Technology

The inventor sometimes referred to as the “Thomas Edison of the roller coaster” was John A. Miller, who earned more than 100 patents related to coaster technology and ride safety.

Seismograph

Geologist and engineer John Milne is known as one of the most significant contributors to the understanding and evaluation of earthquakes. He compiled a substantial body of observational research, developed the first international network for seismological data, and created what may be considered the world’s first modern seismograph.

Gaynor Minden Pointe Shoe

There is room for technological improvement in all types of fields, including the arts. In 1993, Eliza Gaynor Minden designed and developed the Gaynor Minden pointe shoe, which provided a more functional, durable, and comfortable shoe for ballerinas around the world.

Hot Air Ballon

Before there were airplanes, man was able to experience the wonder of floating high above the earth with a somewhat simpler invention: the hot air balloon. The device, invented by French brothers Joseph-Michael and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier, allowed humans for the first time to view the world from a bird’s perspective and helped inspire subsequent interest in the developing field of aviation.

Moog Filter

Robert Moog was born in 1934 in New York City. When he was a child, his mother encouraged him to study music, so he learned to play the piano. Meanwhile, he spent a great deal of time with his father as well, with whom he liked to tinker with electronics.  By the time Moog had reached his teenage years, these two interests had converged, and building simple novelty electronic musical instruments had become a hobby.

The Gas Mask

Because of repeated incidents of firefighters being overcome by smoke when attempting to put out fires in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, Garrett Morgan (1877-1963) wanted to do something to help.

The Cast Cooler

Young inventor Krysta Morlan demonstrated talent in the field of assistive technology with her inventions and her initiative as a college student. Diagnosed at three years old with a mild form of cerebral palsy, Morlan knew the challenges posed to those with physical disabilities. When she was in ninth grade, the Vacaville, California native underwent close to a dozen surgical procedures to help improve her condition. After enduring hip to ankle casts in the California heat with no way to alleviate the pain and discomfort, she invented her first device, the "Cast Cooler."

Morse Code

Samuel Finley Breese Morse, inventor of several improvements to the telegraph, was born in Charlestown, Mass. on April 27, 1791. As a student at Yale College, Morse became interested in both painting and in the developing subject of electricity.

The Original Car Seat Cozy

Entrepreneur and inventor Sharon Mullen may be a perfect illustration of the saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” This Hampton, New Hampshire wife and mother established her own company, Inventive Parent, in 2000 after her son was born. She quickly found that caring for a newborn required innovative solutions to problems for which helpful products did not exist. She was surprised to find, for example, that attachable blankets did not exist for baby carriers and car seats for children over one year old.

Integrated Optical Add/Drop Filter

A team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduate students conquered a major challenge of high-capacity optical communications by inventing a device that can splice a single signal into or out of the many that are being transmitted together along a fiberoptic line.

Basketball

Canadia born James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball, was born on November 6, 1861 in Almonte, Ontario. He and his three siblings were orphaned when both parents died of typhoid fever in 1871. They lived with their grandmother until she passed away, then moved in with an uncle who had a farm in Bennie’s Corners, Ontario.

Blue Light-Emiting Diode (LED)

Shuji Nakamura was born on May 22, 1954 in Ikata, Ehime, Japan. He completed a degree in electronic engineering at the University of Tokushima in 1977, followed by a master’s degree in 1979. More than a decade of research led to his 1993 development of the blue light-emitting diode, or LED, which has enabled the creation of the white-light-emitting LED, the first viable, ultra-efficient successor to the incandescent light bulb invented by Thomas Edison in 1878.

“Clocky” Alarm Clock

Few would deny that the first thing they do when the alarm clock goes off in the morning is to hit that snooze button and go right back to sleep.

Advances in Tissue Engineering

The field of tissue engineering has transformed many areas of medicine, particularly reconstructive surgery and burn treatment, since it began in the early 1980s. Techniques developed by this field’s early pioneers, such as Gail K. Naughton, have made incredible procedures possible that earlier generations could have barely foreseen.  As a result, thousands of patients worldwide now have less painful, more powerful treatment options for a range of afflictions from heart disease to diabetes to severe burns and torn ligaments.

Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer (EDVAC)

Mathematician John von Neumann was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1903. As a very young child, he impressed the people around him with his incredible memory. It was said that he could memorize pages of the phone book and divide 8-digit numbers in his head by the age of six. He was recognized as the best math student in Hungary in 1921. In 1925, he received his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Technische Hochschule) in Zurich, and in 1926, he completed his doctoral degree in mathematics at the University of Budapest.

Advances in Animatronics

For virtually any man, woman, or child born after 1950, the Muppets are sure to be familiar characters. For millions, the Muppets have provided hours of entertainment along with many fond memories.

The Reflecting Telescope

Isaac Newton was one of an elite group of individuals considered to have possessed one of the greatest scientific minds in history.  His achievements span a variety of fields he considered connected, including mathematics, chemistry, optics, and philosophy. His discoveries, which encompass fundamental principles that formed the basis for Calculus, laws of motion, gravitational theory, and theories of color, have clearly stood the test of time.

The Trampoline

Blairstown, Iowa native George Nissen invented a device loved by tumblers, athletes, adults, and children around the world – the trampoline. He holds more than 40 patents related to sports and fitness and has been a tireless promoter of the trampoline and its myriad uses throughout his life.

HyperSonic Sound

Elwood “Woody” Norris proves that there is no magic formula for becoming a successful inventor. Born in 1939 in Barrelville, Maryland, his mother and father had eighth-grade and third-grade educations, respectively, and Norris’s formal training stopped with high school. Nonetheless, his aptitude for electronics and entrepreneurship and his enthusiasm for creating new technologies has taken him to the top of his game. Now the Chairman and CEO of American Technology Corporation in the San Diego suburb of Poway, California, he has more than 40 U.S. and 100 international patents and a variety of successful inventions to his credit in fields as diverse as sound technology, transportation, and medicine.

Covermark Concealer

Cosmetics innovator Lydia O’ Leary turned adversity into triumph when she created a makeup product that could help people with embarrassing facial blemishes. Born with a large raspberry-colored birthmark that covered half of her face, O’Leary was used to getting strange looks on the street. After graduating from college in 1921, she searched for work as a sales associate at New York City department stores.  Despite her qualifications, stores rejected her from front-counter jobs because of her blemish.

Kewpie Doll

The artistic talents of illustrator, inventor, and suffragist Rose Cecil O’Neill sparked a worldwide craze at the start of the 20th century when she turned one of her best-loved hand-drawn characters into a three-dimensional toy. This toy is none other than the instantly recognizable Kewpie doll. The doll and merchandise bearing its likeness remain collectibles to this day.

Optical analysis systems

Ellen Ochoa’s career offers an outstanding example of how invention can lead to adventure. She established herself as an innovative engineer and went on to become the world’s first Hispanic female astronaut.

“Father of the Atomic Bomb”

Julius Robert Oppenheimer is likely the first name that comes to mind when one mentions the atomic bomb. He is credited with the creation of the devastating device in the early 1940s, a version of which was used in two instances during World War II in the summer of 1945. Bombs were dropped on two Japanese cities, and Japan surrendered shortly thereafter.

Innovations in Stroke Treatments

Jewell L. Osterholm, M.D. developed a pioneering treatment for stroke and other central nervous disorders. It was based on the principle that brain food is relatively simple, composed mainly of oxygen, glucose, and amino acids.

Google

Internet users around the world have become so familiar with the search engine phenomenon known as Google that the word, “google,” has an entry as a verb in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Crown Bottle Cap

Some inventions appear small at first glance, but often a closer look proves a simple device can have a revolutionary impact. Such is the case with the “crown cap,” the ubiquitous, indispensable style of bottle cap found on beer and soft drink bottles around the world, created in 1891 by William Painter.

Balloon Expandable Stent

A common cause of heart attack and stroke is restricted blood flow caused by atherosclerosis, or clogged arteries. Millions who suffer from this condition have been able to avoid coronary bypass surgery and evade heart attack, stroke and even premature death thanks to a revolutionary, implantable device, the balloon expandable stent, developed over nearly a decade by Julio C. Palmaz.

Pascaline calculator 

Mathematician and inventor Blaise Pascal was born in Clermont, France on June 29, 1623. His mother passed away when he and his two sisters were very young, and their father became solely responsible for their upbringing. He was a judge in Clermont, who moved the family to Paris in 1623, in part to further the education of his son, who was showing early potential for academic brilliance.

Pasteurization

Louis Pasteur was born on December 27, 1822 in Dole, a small town in eastern France. As a youngster he showed talent as an artist, but no special ability in school. This changed however, in his high school years, as he became more and more interested in scientific subjects. In 1842, he completed his Bachelor of Science degree at the Besancon College Royal de la Franche with honors in physics, mathematics, and Latin. He moved on to the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris to study physics and chemistry.  He received his doctoral degree in 1847.

Carbon Dioxide Laser


There are many types of lasers, which vary in strength, efficiency and utility.  Perhaps the most useful of them all is the carbon dioxide laser, invented by Kumar Patel in 1964.

Diatometer


Limnologist Ruth Patrick was born in Topeka, Kansas on November 26, 1907. As a child she learned to appreciate nature, especially plants, after numerous trips to the countryside with her family. Later she developed an interest in the microscopic organisms in water. In 1929, she received her BS degree from Coker College in South Carolina. She received her MS degree from the University of Virginia two years later.

American Sign Language Translator/Glove

Sometimes it takes a young innovator’s fresh eyes and outsider’s perspective to come up with a unique solution to a long-standing problem. Grand Junction, Colorado, native Ryan Patterson did just that when, at age 17, he invented the American Sign Language Translator.

Solid-body Electric Guitar

One would be hard-pressed to find a guitar fan unfamiliar with the name Les Paul, who not only established himself as a renowned, pacesetting musician with a signature sound, but also contributed a number of advances in guitar design and recording processes, most notably with his invention of the solid-body electric guitar.

The Pelton Water Wheel

The California Gold Rush, which took place from 1848 through 1855, brought thousands of men and women from the eastern states and around the world to America’s west coast in search of fortune and prosperity. While a lucky few did find their fortunes in the gold itself, others found it through opportunities in related services and businesses, such as lodging, transportation, engineering and mining equipment.

Coca-Cola


It’s difficult to imagine a world without Coca-Cola, the most popular soft drink on earth. Pharmacist John Stith Pemberton created the original formula in 1885. Born in 1831 in Knoxville, Georgia, Pemberton earned his medical degree at age 19 and practiced some medicine and surgery early in his career. He later opened his own drug store in Columbus, Georgia.

Spanning Tree Protocol

During the 1970s scientists and programmers were working hard on assembling the networks and technology to enable what we now know as the Internet. Engineer and mathematician Radia Perlman was one of very few women involved in process at that time. Her invention of the algorithm behind the Spanning Tree Protocol solved a challenging information routing problem and earned her the moniker “Mother of the Internet.”

Reverse Phase High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (RP-HPLC)

Though his name may be unfamiliar to some, the remarkable achievements that scientist and inventor Dr. Sidney Pestka has contributed to the medical and biotechnology fields have touched the lives of millions around the world and helped patients battle a number of serious illnesses and diseases, from cancer to multiple sclerosis to dozens of viruses.

The Bra Ball

It may sound like a trivial problem to some, but many women know that when you put a bra in the washing machine you have a pretty good chance of seeing it come out with unsightly lumps and bumps, punctures, and wrinkles that are virtually impossible to get out. When that happens, women are forced to wear the bras with their imperfections, or simply toss them out and hit the store for replacements.

Flex-Foot Prosthetics

Van Phillips, inventor of the Flex-Foot brand of prosthetic feet and limbs, turned a tragic moment into a revolutionary business that has helped thousands around the world lead more normal, active lives.

Birth Control Pill

Gregory Goodwin Pincus was one of the creators of the first effective birth-control pill. Born on April 9, 1903, in Woodbine, New Jersey, his father was a teacher, the editor of the “Jewish Farmer” and an agricultural consultant. However, Pincus credited two uncles, both agricultural scientists, as responsible for his early interest in research.

Jolly Jumper

Mothers and babies around the world enjoy the soothing, bouncing motion of an ingenious swing known as the Jolly Jumper, invented by Olivia Poole in 1910.

Household Products

Anyone who's a fan of television infomercials has undoubtedly spotted inventor Ron Popeil peddling his wares on air sometime during the last couple of decades. Popeil, whose inventions have earned him more than a billion dollars in retail sales, has created a range of consumer products ranging from cooking tools to hairspray.

B-Chain Magainin Derivative

Biotechnologist Emilie Porter was fortunate enough to get involved in research very early on in her education. This was the factor, she says, that helped her accomplish an important discovery in her field while still a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin.

Telegraphone – Voicemail

The now taken-for-granted system of voicemail was made possible by the work of Danish inventor Valdemar Poulsen, born on November 23, 1869 in Copenhagen. As a child he was interested in art and physics, but not mathematics, much to the dismay of his parents. They wanted him to become a doctor, but he left medical school without graduating and at age 24 took a position at the Copenhagen Telephone Company.

Pullman Sleeper Railroad Car

George Mortimer Pullman, inventor of the Pullman sleeping car, was born on March 3, 1831 in Brocton, New York.  He dropped out of school at age 14, but he had a natural knack for business. He began working with a merchant and then took on an apprenticeship in cabinet-making at age 17.

Spring-jointed Nutcracker

Henry Marcus Quackenbush was born in Herkimer, New York on April 27, 1847. As a child he differed from his scholarly brother and sister in that he much preferred to tinker with mechanical components than to read or study. He began an apprenticeship with the gun maker Remington Arms at age 14 where he acquired the skills of an expert metalworker and gunmaker. By 1867, he had begun inventing and marketing devices on his own, including his first successful creation, the extension ladder. He sold the patent for this invention for $500.

Fluffernutter

If you grew up in New England, chances are you’re familiar with one of the area’s most beloved, simple treats: the Fluffernutter sandwich.

Automated scanning and sorting machines

Jacob Rabinow (1910-1999) was born in Kharkov, Russia and emigrated with his family during the Revolution and arrived via China to New York in 1921.  In due time, earned a bachelor’s degree in Engineering (1933) and graduate degree in Electrical Engineering from City College of New York.  In 1938, gaining a post at the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or “NIST”), Rabinow began his truly prolific career as an inventor.

FogScreen

For some time during the 1990s, Finnish researcher Ismo Rakkolainen’s living room was strewn with a pile of banana boxes and thousands of drinking straws. These materials comprised a laboratory of sorts as he worked on a prototype for what would become known as the fog screen. The device produces a magical illusion of giving a person the ability to walk through walls.

Reber Radio Telescope

Grote Reber was born in Chicago on December 22, 1911. He received a bachelor’s degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, in 1933, where he studied radio engineering. While still a student, he became very interested in radio astronomy – in 1932 he learned about.

Hair Conditioner

Dry, tangled, hard-to-manage hair met its match in Jheri Redding, inventor of creme rinse, when he developed the first version of the concoction (now better known as “conditioner”) in the 1930s.

Chemically Amplified Resists

Polymer chemist Elsa Reichmanis was born on December 9, 1953 in Melbourne, Australia. As a child she emigrated with her family to the United States and grew up in Syracuse, New York. An impressive student, she graduated from high school early and enrolled at Syracuse University as a chemistry major. She excelled in her studies and completed her bachelor’s degree in three years, graduating in 1972. Just three years later, she also completed a doctoral degree at Syracuse and received a PhD in organic chemistry in 1975 at the age of 22.

The TPak

When Kelly Reinhart was six-years old, she had an idea that would launch her into a kind of life that few children get to experience: that of a successful entrepreneur, inventor, and V.I.P.

Reynolds Wrap (U.S. Foil)

The entrepreneurial spirit clearly runs in the Reynolds family: Richard S. Reynolds, creator of “Reynolds Wrap” was the nephew of tobacco king R. J. Reynolds. In fact, the younger Reynolds worked for his uncle during the summers of his youth, until in 1919, he started his own business, the U.S. Foil Co., supplying tin-lead wrappers to cigarette and candy companies.

Microwave Scanning System

Few Americans have made such a sweeping contribution to the process and business of inventing as Robert Rines, a trailblazer in the realms of invention, education, law, and public policy.

Programming Language “C”

A true trailblazer in the field of computer technology, Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie, born on Sept. 9, 1941 in Bronxville, New York, is credited with the 1972 creation of one of the world’s most popular programming languages, “C.”

Hang Gliding

A great number of men and women made contributions to the world of airplane flight during the industry’s early days in the 1930s through 1950s. Excitement ran high around this brave new world at the time, and more individuals wished they could have the opportunity to fly aboard or even pilot an airplane than there were opportunities to do so. Even as commercial flight began to take off, the expense was somewhat prohibitive for most.

Bili Bonnet

When babies are born prematurely, they frequently require days or weeks of special care in hospitals’ neonatal intensive care facilities. These tiny patients present a variety of challenges for the nurses and doctors who care for them; their delicate bodies need both nurturing and protection, and standard equipment can be ill-fitting or otherwise less-than-perfect at doing the job.

Bread-slicing Machine

“Now that’s the best thing since sliced bread!”

Most are familiar with the decades-old expression above, but few can name of the man who invented the bread-slicing machine that gave the world packaged, sliced bread in the 1920s.

Advances in Puppetry

Born in Kansas City in 1910, Hazelle (Hedges) Rollins secured her place in history with the dedication she had to the art of puppetry. As an art student at the University of Kansas in 1929, Rollins was approached by a neighbor’s young son who had received a marionette from Italy as a gift. He asked her to make him another one. Rollins did so, carving a head out of wood. She instantly had an affinity for these objects and soon found herself creating lots of puppets. She began writing plays for them and putting on shows for school kids.

I.V. House

The mother-daughter team of Betty Rozier and Linda Vallino, of Hazelwood, Missouri, invented a simple device that makes it safer and easier for hospitals to provide patients with IVs.

Rubik’s Cube

One of the best-loved toys of all time, the Rubik’s Cube has puzzled and entertained people of all ages around the world. The device that became popular with the masses in the 1980s was created a decade earlier by Hungarian designer Erno Rubik. Born in Budapest in 1944, his father was an engineer and glider designer; his mother was a writer and artist.  Rubik pursued sculpture for a time before studying and earning a degree in architecture in 1967. Shortly thereafter he became a teacher in the interior design department at the Academy of Applied Arts and Crafts in Budapest.

Bifurcated Vaccination Needle

Microbiologist Benjamin A. Rubin was born in New York City in 1917 in an era when smallpox was a dreaded uncontrolled disease.  At that time, the affliction was killing more than two million people per year. Little did young Rubin know, that years later he would be responsible for an invention that would contribute to the eventual eradication of smallpox:  the bifurcated vaccination needle.

Advances in Private Aircraft Development

Many of the most significant developments in private aircraft development over the last several decades may be attributed to aviation innovator, inventor, aeronautical engineer and entrepreneur Burt Rutan.


Advances in Solar Power

Emanuel “Ely” Sachs was born in New York, New York, on November 30, 1954. He is a major player in alternative energy research, particularly in the area of photovoltaics, a solar power technology using solar cells to convert sunlight into electricity.

SlimCell

Canada native Donald Robert Sadoway has devoted much of his career to developing technology aimed at using energy and resources more efficiently in order to lessen harmful effects to the environment. Holder of a dozen patents, his research on next-generation batteries has resulted in a novel device known as the “SlimCell,” which could be a step toward making electric cars more viable for the masses and might also enable safer, more powerful portable computing machines.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

Before the 1950s, when a person suffered cardiac arrest, this generally meant death was imminent. But surgeon and medical innovator Peter Safar changed that with his development and popularization of the procedure known as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR.

Polio Vaccine

Jonas Edward Salk, developer of the first successful vaccine for polio, was born on October 28, 1914 in New York City. The oldest son of Russian-Jewish immigrant parents, Salk worked after school to help pay for his education at the City College of New York, and then the New York University School of Medicine. He was the first member of his family to attend college. He graduated from NYU in 1938.

Alternative Raw Materials and Methods for Paper

Jordan Sand was a high school senior (class of 2001) at Ellendale High School in Ellendale, North Dakota who had a bright future as an environmental scientist in the making. At 18 years old, having created a number of devices related to the agricultural world, Sand was already proving that innovation can be applied not only by engineers on mechanical devices, but also to solve environmental and economic issues.

Chemex® Coffeemaker

Beginning around the turn of the 19th century, a movement toward bringing attractive design to everyday household items began to gain momentum. A variety of artisans, manufacturers and product developers churned out a steady stream of innovative products and designs, with the aim of bringing art into everyday life and, of course, hoping to make a healthy profit.

Prozac

Klaus K. Schmiegel helped to change the lives of millions of people around the world suffering from depression. His work in organic chemistry lead to the development of the widely successful antidepressant Prozac.

The Typewriter

The typewriter was reinvented dozens of times; but credit for the first practical machine is given to Christopher Latham Sholes of Milwaukee.

Mini-Z

Terahertz radiation, which consists of electromagnetic waves sent at Terahertz (trillion cycles-per-second) frequencies, is among today’s most often-touted breakthrough technologies for sensing and imaging. It can “see” through a variety of nonconducting materials such as plastics, paper, wood, ceramics and skin, similar to x-rays. However, unlike x-rays, t-rays are non-ionizing, which means they may be safer for humans than x-rays are for some applications.

TB Test

Biochemist Florence Barbara Seibert developed a groundbreaking procedure that lead to the standard tuberculosis test used to detect the potentially deadly virus in infants, children and adults around the world in the 1930s.

Plasticized PVC

Waldo Semon took a detour in his assigned laboratory research one day and ended up inventing the world’s second-best-selling plastic:  polyvinyl chloride, a.k.a. PVC, a.k.a. vinyl.

Scotchgard™

Accidents have been responsible for a great number of American inventions, from the implantable cardiac pacemaker to the microwave oven to silly putty.  Patsy Sherman capitalized on an accident to invent one of America’s most readily recognized chemicals, Scotchgard™.

Dr. John’s Herbal Candy

Candy that’s good for your teeth? It may sound too good to be true but that’s exactly what microbiologist and inventor Wenyuan Shi has brought to market: a tasty lollipop made of ingredients that have the ability to fight the primary bacteria responsible for causing tooth decay.

Sojourner Rover

Donna Shirley, the original leader of the team that built the Mars Pathfinder rover, grew up in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. As a teenager in the 1950s, she knew she wanted to become an engineer, despite the fact that few girls were entering the field at that time. Math was her worst subject, but she worked hard to learn it in pursuit of her dream.

FreshPaper

Kavita Shukla had just finished high school and was already on her way to a prolific career in science and invention, with two patents and a company of her own to her credit.

Helicopter

Aviation pioneer Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky was born May 25, 1889 in Kiev, Russia. He created the first successful helicopter in 1939, and is credited with many other outstanding accomplishments in the field of aircraft design.

Automatic Teller Machine (ATM)


Luther George Simjian (1905-1997) was a lifelong inventor whose inventions include the self-focusing camera, a flight speed indicator for airplanes, an automatic postage metering machine, and the teleprompter.  However, he is perhaps most famous for his invention of the Bankmatic automatic teller machine (ATM).

Singer Sewing Machine

Isaac Merrit Singer developed the first commercially successful sewing machine. Born in 1811 in Pittstown, New York, Singer spent much of his youth devoted to acting.  At age 38, when his career in show business proved unsuccessful, Singer settled in New York to focus on inventing full-time.

Screenless hammermill

Working with innovative instincts and a broad world-view, Amy Smith has made a career of inventing devices that improve conditions in developing countries, including the phase-change incubator and the screenless hammermill.

The Cuisinart® Food Processor

Carl G. Sontheimer was an accomplished engineer, entrepreneur, and cook, most famous for giving America the Cuisinart.

The Gyroscopic Compass

Elmer Ambrose Sperry is one of the foremost inventor-entrepreneurs of American history. He founded 8 companies and earned more than 350 patents, most notably for the gyroscopic compass.

Electric Trolley Systems

Urban development got a major boost in 1887 when inventor Frank Julian Sprague developed the world’s first successful electric street railway system, making it feasible to build cities and towns that were more vast in size and allowing for a greater concentration of businesses in commercial areas.

Water Talkies™

In most respects, Richie Stachowski, who lives in Orinda, California, is a typical, fun loving 13-year-old, who vastly prefers sports to school. On the other hand, Richie is the Founder and President of a company boasting about a half-million dollars in annual revenues.

Improvements to Alternating Current Motor

Mathematician, engineer and inventor Charles Proteus Steinmetz was responsible during the latter part of the 19th and early part of the 20th century for solving a number of problems related to the generation and transmission of electricity, at a critical time in history rife with developments that formed the technological characteristics of the modern, "wired" world.

Cis-Lunar MK6 Rebreather

Adventurer-engineer William “Bill” C. Stone combines his passion for and experience with expeditionary caving and scientific exploration to create new high-tech data-gathering and survival systems. His numerous inventions are aimed at making it easier for humans to explore remote environments from deep underwater to outer space.

Automatic Toaster

It is easy to take for granted many of today’s most common household tools and appliances. A variety of concepts that seem simple to us now, however, actually came about via a great deal of ingenuity and perseverance, coupled with excellent timing and business sense.

Innovations in Water Irrigation Systems

During the early decades of settlement of what is today known as the bustling metropolitan area surrounding Los Angeles, Calif., Harriet Russell Strong was involved in a variety of fields and causes there, from water conservation and farming to improving education and women’s rights. Her inventions of new types of dams and water storage systems represented major breakthroughs in dry-land irrigation that helped farmers throughout the southwest. Despite her lack of a formal education, her persistence and determination throughout her life lead her to make a difference in many lasting and invaluable ways.

Sketchpad

Ivan Sutherland was born in 1938 in Hastings, Nebraska. The child of a civil engineer father, he found it very exciting to discover how things worked. He knew early on that he wanted to be an engineer, and he learned how to program a computer while he was in high school. At the time, that was a very rare skill, especially among high school students.

“Fido” Sensors

Technology developed by organic chemist Timothy M. Swager has the potential to save countless lives through its ability to detect trace amounts of explosives as effectively as, if not better than, a trained canine.

High-Tech Girls Toys

Getting young girls interested in science and technology has always been a challenge in the U.S. Sociological factors have generally encouraged boys to enter such fields while girls have been “left out in the cold,” so to speak.  Janese Swanson, founded Girl Tech to change that.  Her company specialized in creating toys and other products aimed at making technology more interesting for girls.

Nomex

Nomex inventor Wilfred Sweeney was born in Glasgow, Scotland on April 22, 1926. As a child he developed a keen interest in science, and often received gifts such as chemistry sets for Christmas. He loved coming up with concoctions such as invisible inks.

Smart Gels

Born and raised in Japan, Toyoichi Tanaka received his higher education at the University of Tokyo, where he earned a BS (1968), MS (1970), and DSc (1973), in Physics.  In 1975, he joined the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he rose to the rank of Professor of Physics as well as Morningstar Professor of Science.

Headbenz®

It takes a rare combination of creativity and ingenuity to create practical fashion. And inventor-entrepreneur Victoria Tane has it. Creator of the Headbenz® lines of accessories, Tane has sold hundreds of thousands of her comfortable, stylish headbands and jewelry pieces.

Telkes Solar Cooker

For centuries human beings have attempted to capture and direct for a variety of specific uses the incredible natural energy radiated from the sun. This heavenly body provides, according to a generally accepted standard, approximately 1,000 watts per meter squared at sea level; the trick is in harnessing and targeting it in the place desired for it to be able to accomplish specific tasks.

Amphibious Sandals

Mark Thatcher reinvented an item of dress as old as civilization itself, the sandal, and succeeded in making his product the basis of a revolution in lifestyle.

The Theremin

Just a few years after the invention of the vacuum tube, Leon Theremin invented one of the world’s first and most unique electronic musical intruments:  the aetherphone, better known as the Theremin.

Articulated Optical DVD Technology

Engineer and inventor Fred C. Thomas was born on October 25, 1959 in Washington D.C. With his diplomat parents he traveled and lived all over the world, including time spent in Pakistan, South Vietnam, India, Taiwan, Germany and the Philippines, as well as the United States. His father had been an electrical engineer earlier in his career and it was he who inspired his son’s interest in technology, especially solar energy. When the younger Thomas began to see media coverage of innovations that were very similar to ideas he had years earlier, he realized he might have a special talent for developing new technological concepts. He entered Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania where he completed his BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1983.

Illusion Transmitter


Valerie L. Thomas was born in May of 1943 in Maryland. She was fascinated with technology as a very young child. At age eight her curiosity about how things worked inspired her to borrow a book called “The Boy’s First Book On Electronics," which she took home hoping her father would help her take on some of the projects in it. After all, he liked to tinker with radios and television sets. But he did not help her.

Advances in Electric Lighting

Elihu Thomson was born in England on March 29, 1853. He would later become one of the most prolific inventors in U.S. history and would join Thomas Edison to form one of the most pervasive companies in the world, General Electric.

Linux Operating System

Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux Operating System, was born December 28, 1969 in Helsinki, Finland. His grandfather had a Commodore VIC-20 that he had the opportunity to work with; by age ten he was already dabbling in programming. He enrolled at the University of Helsinki in 1989, and in 1990 he took his first C programming class.

Totino Frozen Pizza

Rose Totino was born in 1915, one of seven children of Italian immigrant parents. The family settled in Minneapolis. At age 16, Totino dropped out of school and began cleaning houses to help out with the family's household expenses. She had learned a dedicated work ethic from her father, who believed hard work was the only way to success.

56K Bit/sec Modem

Canadian inventor and electrical engineer, Brent Townshend, created a core concept in 1996 that served as the basis for what is known as the 56K bit/sec modem, a groundbreaking technology at the time that allowed for data transfer between two computers at high speeds.

Tupperware®

By a two-step process of invention, Earl S. Tupper created one of the most practical items of Americana to date:  the airtight plastic food container that still bears his name.

Interstate Highway System

Francis “Frank” Turner is credited with having developed the interstate highway system, as we know it in the United States. In 1929, the Dallas native graduated from the Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Texas A&M University) and immediately joined the Bureau of Public Roads as a Junior Highway Engineer. There, he was assigned to field service in the Bureau’s research program in what was then called the Division of Management. He was one of a group of college graduates selected each year to participate in a training program which focused on building methods designed to reduce the costs of highway construction. At the time, highway engineering was a brand new field.

Multi-terrain wheelchair

Colin S. Twitchell transformed his own love of outdoor activities into a distinguished career in the development of products that make such activities accessible to the physically challenged.

G-Speak (Gestural Technology System)

John Steven Underkoffler makes a point of bringing his vision of the technological future into the present, as often as he can. The inventor and entrepreneur has created a variety of innovative systems that have been considered futuristic and ahead of their time. In fact, his concept of a novel human-to-machine communication system known as G-Speak has been featured in the science fiction film “Minority Report.” However, the technology is very much real, and Underkoffler continues to work on bringing it to the masses through his Los Angeles, Calif.-based company, Oblong Industries.

Friable Pill

Before the turn of the 20th century, when faced with an illness that required medication, patients were accustomed to ingesting pharmaceuticals in liquid form or as pills with hard coatings. The problem was, however, that these coatings were so hard that sometimes the pills did not dissolve in the patient’s system; in these cases they passed right through, and the person being treated received no benefit at all. Dr. William Erastus Upjohn solved this issue with his 1884 invention of the friable pill, which means a pill that is easily crushable.

Alkaline battery

Lewis Frederick Urry, creator of the world’s first long-lasting alkaline battery, was born in Canada in the city of Pontypool, Ontario, on January 29, 1927.  His invention today powers countless portable electronic devices around the world, from flashlights to cameras to computer games.

Chemical Compound (RPI-069)

Once Canada-born Eva Vertes got hooked at science at the tender age of 10, she wasted no time in setting out to make a difference in the very adult world of medicine. By age 15, she had uncovered properties of a chemical compound called RPI-069 that could lead to a groundbreaking new treatment for patients afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.

Artist, inventor, musician, engineer and philosopher Leonardo da Vinci was born in the small Italian village of Vinci, outside Florence, on April 15, 1452. His parents were not married, though they later married different people and had 17 other children between them. Da Vinci lived with his father, and his surroundings were rich with the arts tradition of this area of Italy.

Electric Battery

Italian physicist Alessandro Volta made a number of discoveries in the late 18th and early 19th century critical to the then all-new and growing field of electricity. His development of the first electric pile preceded the modern battery and this, among many other accomplishments, led fellow scientists to immortalize him by naming the unit for electromagnetic force, the volt, in his honor.

Plastination

Physician and inventor Gunther von Hagens created a remarkable technique for preserving human tissue after death. The technique, known as plastination, has been introduced worldwide through his “Body Worlds” public exhibitions, where people of all ages have been able to view the internal organs and muscles of the human body in spectacularly presented and pristine form.

Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

It may be hard to believe, but before the 1930s no one had ever had the pleasure of biting into a chocolate chip cookie. Why? The sweet world-famous treat had not been invented yet.

Walker Hair Care System

Few historical figures of the latter part of the 19th century fit the profile of inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist like Madam C.J. Walker. Having endured a difficult childhood, being female, African American, with virtually no formal education and with no family inheritance or outside resources to rely on, she overcame a series of formidable obstacles to become one of the wealthiest, most successful women in the United States in the early 1900s. She is considered a revolutionary in the area of personal hygiene and grooming for the nation’s black women, having begun an initiative to educate and give them tools to stay healthy and look their best, in particular, via her creation of the Walker Hair Care System.

Lava Lamp

Love it or hate it, the cultural significance of the psychedelic fixture known, as the lava lamp is hard to deny. The incredibly popular lamps came to signify the mindset of the 1960s both in Great Britain and the U.S., and sales resurged beginning in the early 1990s.

Laser Telemetry and Targeting Systems

Hildreth “Hal” Walker, Jr. has won fame as an innovative thinker, collaborator and role model, in the realm of energy technology, especially in applications of lasers. 

Patentable Business Models

Entrepreneur Jay Walker's accomplishments are somewhat unique in terms of how they fit in with the concept of invention. His innovative ideas have lead to patentable, intellectual property-based new business models.

RFID Technology

RFID, or radio frequency identification technology, is an integral part of modern society, using the power of electromagnetic energy to automatically sense and track information in thousands of applications, from network and building security to monitoring inventory and sales to preventing auto theft, keeping tabs on library books, and running unmanned toll booths.

New Interferometer

Dr. Cardinal Warde, a professor of electrical engineering at MIT, is considered one of the world’s leading experts on materials, devices and systems for optical information processing. Warde holds ten key patents on spatial light modulators, displays, and optical information processing systems. He is a co-inventor of the microchannel spatial light modulator, membrane-mirror light shutters based on micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), an optical bistable device, and a family of charge-transfer plate spatial light modulators.

Radar

Scotsman Robert Watson-Watt was born April 13, 1892 in Brechin, Aberdeenshire. In 1912, he completed his BSc in engineering at University College, Dundee, which was then part of the University of St Andrews.

Automatic Dishwasher Detergent

Chemist Dennis W. Weatherby will forever be associated with one of the United States’ most well known household cleaning products, the automatic dishwasher detergent known as Cascade.

The Gardenburger

Health-conscious diners around the world can thank Paul Wenner for one of the most popular “health foods” in modern history: the Gardenburger.

Foil Electret Microphone

In the 1960s, a pair of Bell Labs scientists, James Edward West and Gerhard M. Sessler, worked together to produce the foil electret microphone. This type of microphone remains one of the most affordable and commonly used microphones today, with nearly 90 percent of all microphones made currently built based on principles developed by the duo.

Flexible Airfoil Section

Former Secretary of the Air Force, Sheila E. Widnall became the first woman placed in charge of a branch of the military when President Clinton appointed her to the post in 1993. Widnall entered the Air Force after 28 years working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she became a world-renowned expert in fluid dynamics and garnered three patents in airflow technology.

Liquid Embossing Process for Silicon Chips

Silicon chip manufacturing can be a costly proposition; the most prevalent method, photolithography (or optical lithography), offers precision but is an expensive process requiring several steps, pricey equipment and extremely clean operating facilities. It’s no surprise then that researchers are constantly searching for new ways to fabricate chips as the demand for these electronics components continues to skyrocket around the world.

Graphic Adventure Games

In 1979, computer game innovator Roberta Williams was a housewife with two kids and no experience or particular interest in computers. Meanwhile, her husband, Ken, worked for a computer company on huge IBM mainframe machines. It was around that time that the Apple computer was becoming a popular item in people’s homes. Ken saw the potential home computing could have for the future and brought his enthusiasm home with him. That got Roberta interested in home computers. She began playing video games, first a text-based adventure game called Colossal Cave. Before long she was hooked on video games—especially of the adventure-style genre.

Artificial Heart

Paul Winchell was more well known for his show business career than for his accomplishments as an inventor, so it may come as a surprise that it was this ventriloquist and television series character actor, who was the first to design and patent a concept for an implantable, mechanical, artificial heart.

Slimsuit

It’s no secret that for women, the process of selecting, buying and wearing a swimsuit is one that can be difficult, frustrating and uncomfortable. For many years swimsuits were made simply of stretchy material cut into different shapes and sizes with very little structure or support.

The Plastic Soda Bottle


Nathaniel Wyeth’s most famous invention, one of the most convenient and readily recyclable items available for sale today, is the plastic soda bottle.

Cylinder Lock

Linus Yale, inventor of a popular and effective lock that uses a pin-tumbler cylinder design, was born in Salisbury, New York, on April 4, 1821. As a youngster, Yale possessed a great deal of mechanical skill and ingenuity. His father, Linus Yale Sr., was a successful inventor, having created sawmill head blocks and a millstone process. The older Yale was also interested in new lock designs, and spent much of his time on bank locks. In the 1940s he created one of the first modern locks that used a pin-tumble design. He opened the Yale Lock Shop in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1847.

Rapid Exchange Balloon Angioplasty/Stenting System

Medical technologies, such as those created by physician and inventor Paul G. Yock, have helped to revolutionize patient care around the world. Doctors and surgeons have in recent decades gained unprecedented access to advanced devices and techniques that have saved or extended thousands of lives and promise to help millions more.

Antisense Therapeutics

Over the last half century, Paul Zamecnik has revolutionized medical research more than once.  Among the highlights of his career are opening the door to the breaking of the genetic code, and creating a new biotechnological discipline:  antisense therapeutics.

Blissymbol Printer

Since the mid-1960s, people with severe disabilities have been learning to communicate by using a system of symbols called Blissymbolics. Charles Bliss, who aimed to create a universally understood method of communication, invented this international language, which uses pictures instead of words, in the 1940s. Canadian therapists began teaching cerebral palsy patients how to use it in the 1960s and its use among the disabled began to spread. However, until the 1980s, those users had been unable to use the system independently.

Electronic Television

One of the foremost figures in the complex history of television is Vladimir Zworykin (1889-1982), who invented the “iconoscope,” “kinemascope,” and “storage principle” that became the basis of TV as we know it.