Innate curiosity and a strong desire to improve things are just some of the qualities shared by the world’s most famous inventors. From a young age, most of them have been intrigued by their surroundings – constantly asking questions, eagerly challenging themselves to provide solutions and answers.
Many inventors have stumbled upon their breakthroughs while observing how things and nature worked. With penetrating insight, they were able to see the invisible connections and, with total dedication, made them come to life to make a better world.
1. Konrad Zuse.
He was the German engineer who invented the first freely programmable computer. Born on June 22, 1910 in Berlin, Sainsologi left his first job in the German aircraft industry and set up a workshop at his parents’ living room to construct a “mechanical brain”. By 1937, he had written in his notes on the fundamental principle of the computer. The following year, he completed a test model of a fully mechanical programmable digital computer. By 1946, his company had also developed the world’s first programming language.
2. Thomas Alva Edison.
Inventor of the tin foil phonograph, he is more popularly known for his improvements on the light bulb. Edison’s invention of the carbon filament enabled the light bulb to last for 40 hours. He went on to improve his original model, making it last three times longer to 1200 hours.
3. Hedy Lamarr.
Born Hedwig Eva Maria Keisler in Austria, she immigrated to the United States and became a famous Hollywood actress. She was also a pioneer in wireless communications, co-inventing a system which formed an unbreakable code that helped the Allied forces against the Nazis in World War 2. The ‘spread spectrum’ technology which Lamarr helped to invent would later become the backbone for cellular phones, fax machines, and other forms of wireless digital communications.
4. Johannes Gutenberg.
The German goldsmith invented the printing machine which used movable type. It was a pivotal event for Western civilization as it led to the Renaissance and the Church Reformation. Gutenberg’s invention triggered a printing revolution that spread learning and fueled the establishment of a knowledge-based economy.
5. James Watt.
In 1769, the Scottish mechanical engineer took the crude atmospheric steam engine invented by Thomas Newcomen and converted it into the most important energy source of the Industrial Revolution. Through Watt’s technical genius, the modern steam engine was born which enabled the world to make the transition from an agricultural society into an industrial one.
6. Stephanie Kwolek.
One of the world’s first women research chemists, Kwolek gained prominence in 1971 when she discovered an exceptionally strong liquid crystalline polymer solution. This led to her invention of Kevlar, a synthetic material five times as strong as steel. Kwolek’s invention became an important component of bulletproof vests. It was also widely used from suspension bridge cables to safety helmets.
7. Alexander Graham Bell.
Only 29 years old, Bell invented the telephone in 1879 and made it possible to transmit the human voice electrically. The device led to a communications revolution that kept people connected and helped spread crucial information.
8. John Logie Baird.
Born in 1889 in Glasgow, Scotland, Baird was the inventor of the first working television system. He first made a public demonstration of his invention in London in 1925. In 1927, Baird unveiled a color television. He followed it up the following year with the first trans-atlantic television transmission.
9. Karl Benz.
A German mechanical engineer, Benz designed and built the world’s first practical automobile. He began with a patent for a three-wheeled, gas-fueled car in 1886. Five years later, he built his first four-wheeled car. The company that he started became the largest automobile manufacturer in the world in 1900. It continues to enjoy a following to this day.
10. Jacques-Mande Daguerre.
The French painter and printmaker is the inventor of photography. He stunned the French Academie des Sciences in 1839 with astonishing images that changed the idea of visual representation forever. Each Daguerreotype, as his photographic images were called, was on a silver-plated sheet of copper, exposed in a large box camera, and stabilized with salt water. His invention was hailed both as a medium of artistic expression and a powerful scientific tool.
Mankind has advanced in leaps and bounds because of the brilliant inventors that have carried our curiosity and ingenuity to new heights of creation. Human civilization will continue to be transformed by the spirit of invention that is alive in every one of us.