Inventions and their creators

The world is awash with inventions created by lone inventors and small groups working independently. The impact on the modern world that their inventions have had has been immesurable, yet in many cases they have received little funding or support for their work.

A vast number of highly useful inventions go undiscovered because it is so difficult for the general public to develop their ideas. It is precisely these potential creations that the WIF would like to be able to support. All the inventions listed below were, at one time, similar 'might-be' creations.

Jet Engine
Frank Whittle, U.K.

His father was a mechanic. Came from a working-class background. Became RAF Officer

The Establishment would not take notice of his revolutionary thinking. It took him 10-years to convince them. Created a new global industry.

First Adhesive Glue
Not known, U.K.

A Patent was issued around 1750

Although it is known that it existed, no record is available

Air Brake
George Westinghouse, U.S.A.

His father had small shops manufacturing agricultural machinery. Working-class entrepreneurial background.

Self-educated inventor who created one of the USA?s greatest electric manufacturing companies.

Electric Transformer
George Westinghouse, U.S.A.

He was very inquisitive as a boy in anything electrical.

First large system supplying electricity from one circuit for multiple end-uses
George Westinghouse, U.S.A.

Milking Machine
Anna Baldwin, U.S.A.

She was a small working farmer

Created a new global product.

Automotive air bags
Allen K. Breed, U.S.A.

He was a working-class entrepreneurial background.

Built from the grass-roots level an international company. Created a new global product

Electro-mechanical crash Sensor (EMS).
Allen K. Breed,

Modern Air Conditioning
Willis Haviland Carrier, U.S.A.

He had a working-class entrepreneurial background.

Started his working life on a salary of only US$10.00 per week. Created a new global industry.

Orville & Wilbur Wright, U.S.A.

They were owners of small bicycle business

They were both self-trained mechanics. Created a whole new global industry.

Alternating electric current motor
Charles Proteus Steinmetz, Poland

He came from a middle-class family who immigrant to the USA with little money to start a new life.

Greatly Instrumental in building the financial and industrial base/development of General Electric ? The world?s largest industrial concern. Created a whole new global industry.

Fuel Cell
William Grove, U.K.

He was a Welsh circuit judge and amateur scientist

Father of the fuel-cell who experimented as a hobby. Created the basis of a 21st century global industry.

Water based fuels
Rudolf W. Gunnerman, Germany

He was a US Immigrant who arrived in the US with US$20 dollars in his pocket.

This technology has the potential to substantially reduce the energy used in vehicles in the medium term over the next 30 years. Created the basis of a 21st century global industry.

silicon solar cell
Russell Ohl, U.S.A.

He was a working-class employee of Bell Labs

The management at Bell Labs tried several times to dissuade him from this research direction. If they had the company would not have created such a revolutionary invention/product. Created the basis of a new global industry.

sun energy battery
Gerald Pearson, Calvin Fuller and Daryl Chapin, U.S.A.

He was a working-class employees of Bell Labs and he accidentally came across the basis of a new global industry where the conversion from light to electricity powered appliances.

The New York Times praised it as "the beginning of a new era, leading eventually to the realization of harnessing the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization. Created the basis of a new global industry.

Introducing the impurities necessary to transform silicon from a poor electric conductor to a superior conductor of electricity.
Calvin Fuller, U.S.A.

He was a working-class employee of Bell Labs

This discovery absolutely revolutionised the electronics age. Created the basis of a new global industry.

Tim Paterson, U.S.A.

He was just a worker/programmer for a small computer products company who created it for his own use. He sold the rights to Q-DOS to Bill Gates for US$50,000 The world?s best investment move ever in modern history. He ended up as simply a worker for Microsoft.

The software that made Microsoft what it is today. Without MS-DOS Bill Gates would never have developed Microsoft into the a world-leader as the catalyst would never have existed for him. Created the basis of a new global industry.

CP/M Operating System
Gary Kildall, U.S.A.

He was an indifferent student who liked to spend his time rebuilding old cars, but he attended the University of Washington in his hometown of Seattle, planning to become a maths teacher.

The first operating system for microcomputers and what MS-DOS was derived from. Basis of a new global industry.

Louis Paul Cailletet, FRANCE

He was an ironworker in his father?s iron foundry.

Created the basis of a new global product.

high-pressure manometer
Louis Paul Cailletet,

Created the basis of a new global product.

Liquefication of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and air.
Louis Paul Cailletet,

He was an ironworker in his father?s iron foundry. First person to liquefy these natural gases.

This process created a new global industry servicing a diverse array of industries from health to energy.

Tin Can
Peter Durand, U.K.

He was a middle-class merchant selling commodities.

Revolutionised food preservation and its transportation over an indefinite time. It was the birth of the modern packaging industry

Portland Cement
Joseph Aspdin, U.K.

He was the eldest son of a bricklayer.

He called the cement Portland cement because it resembled Portland stone. Created the basis of a new global industry.

Reinforced concrete
Joseph Monier, FRANCE

He was a gardener who made garden pots and tubs of concrete reinforced with an iron mesh. Besides his pots and tubs, he promoted reinforced concrete for use in railway ties, pipes, floors, arches, and bridges.

Created the basis of a new global industry.

Cates Eyes
Percy Shaw, U.K.

He was a young road repairer from a working class family.

Greatly advanced road safety at night throughout the world. Created a new global product that has saved thousands of lives over the years.

Thermos Flask
James Dewar, U.K.

He was the son of an innkeeper

The majority of households in the developed world have bought one of these several times over. Created a new global product.

Solidification of liquid Hydrogen
James Dewar, Scotland

He was the youngest of six boys and was born and raised in Scotland. By the time he was fifteen he had lost both parents, and went to live with his brother. He went to Edinburgh University and, after graduation stayed on to work as a tutorial assistant.

Allows bulk storage of a needed commodity and where its importance will significantly increase in the 21st century and beyond. Basis of a new global industry.

Electric Motor
Michael Faraday, U.K.

He came from a poor family and was the son of a blacksmith. He started in life as an errand boy for a London bookbinder.

The modern world could not function in many ways without the device. Faraday through his work created a whole new technological industry.

Electromagnetic Induction
Michael Faraday, U.K.

His discoveries are the basis of all modern electromagnetic technology. Therefore Faraday is the ?father? of the electricity industry.

Michael Faraday, U.K.

Allows continuous source of electricity. Created the basis of a new global industry.

Michael Faraday, U.K.

Allows the electric power to be increased and decreased at will. Created the basis of a new global industry.

Michael Faraday, U.K.

Producing electricity at will. The modern world could not do without it. Created the basis of a new global industry and possibly the greatest invention of all time.

William Sturgeon, U.K.

He was the son of a shoemaker, apprenticed into shoemaking and thereafter an electrician by trade.

The beginning of using electrical energy for making useful and controllable machines and which laid the foundations for large-scale electronic communications. I.e. telephone etc. Created the basis of a new global industry.

Gas Mask/Breathing Mask
John and Charles Deane, U.K.

They were blacksmiths by trade.

Basis of a new industry and underwater diving and Scuba diving.

Dennis Gabor, Hungary

His father was a mining engineer. With the rise of Hitler in 1933 he left Germany and after a short period in Hungary went to depression stricken England and where finding a job as a foreigner was very difficult. Through perseverance and over many years of hardship he eventually invented holography and thereby a 21st century industry.

Basis of a new global industry.

Internal Combustion Engine
Samuel Brown, U.K.

He was an engineer from a working class background.

He adapted an old Newcomen steam engine to create the first engine to drive a road vehicle. Pre-runner to the modern automobile.

Laws of conservation and dissipation of energy
William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, U.K.

His father was the son of a farmer and he was more-or-less self-taught.

Father of modern thermodynamics and created the basis of a multi-global industries.

Richard Trevithick, U.K.

His father was a mining manager with only a reasonable income. Therefore he had to work for everything that he made in life and had no financial help other than his own personal earnings.

He is regarded as the ?Father of railway engines?. Created the basis of a new global industry.

Light Bulb
Humphry Davy, U.K.

His father was a woodcarver by trade with little financial income.

Invented the first electric light. Davy connected two wires to a battery and attached a charcoal strip between the other ends of the wires. The charged carbon glowed making the first arc lamp. Created the basis of a new global industry.

Alexander Fleming, Scotland

His father was a farmer living in a desolate area of Scotland and where Fleming had no contact initially with science.

His work created an industrial base for possibly the greatest selling medical cure in history. Created the basis of a new global industry.

John Rex Whinfield and James Tennant Dickson, U.K.

They were employees of a small regional company.

Basis of a new global product.

Periodic Table
John Newlands, U.K.

His father was a minister of the church and educated him at home. He did not have any formal state school education. He worked initially for a time at an agricultural college.

Had the idea of arranging chemical elements in order of their relative atomic masses and he arranged his elements in columns. The Basic building blocks of the Universe and possibly the most important listings of all time.

Robert Alexander Watson-Watt, U.K.

His father was a carpenter by trade and where he learnt Watson-Watt to use his hands and make things.

Invention that revolutionised the aviation industry. Created the basis of multi-global industries.

Rubber Bands
Stephen Perry, U.K.

He was a working-class Entrepreneur.

A product used worldwide in business and home. Created the basis of a new global product.

Radio Waves
James Clerk Maxwell, U.K.

His father was a lawyer with no scientific background but where James Clerk Maxwell developed an early interest in scientific investigation.

Predicted the existence and from this connection sprang the idea that light was an electric phenomenon. Established the clue for the invention of the Radio.

James Forbes, U.K.

He was a self-taught instrument maker.

Instrument determining the magnitude of earthquakes.

Sewing Machine
Thomas Saint, U.K.

He was a joiner & cabinet maker

Created a new industrial machine that became the basis of a global industry.

Steel Production ? The Bessemer Process
Henry Bessemer, U.K.

His father was a typefounder. Bessemer was an inventor working under his own initiative and intuition.
He said of the reasons why he had made the breakthrough, ?I had an immense advantage over many others dealing with the problem inasmuch as I had no fixed ideas derived from long-established practice to control and bias my mind, and did not suffer from the general belief that whatever is, is right.?

Created the means by which mass-production of steel could be done inexpensively. This was the basis of a whole new global industry, created the material which built the 20th century and what made Andrew Carnegie the world?s richest person. Created the basis of a new global industry.

William Borne, U.K.

He was a former Royal Navy Gunner with no qualifications or background in ship design whatsoever.

It never got off the drawing board because no one would finance it.

The three machines that Revolutionised the Textile Industry

1. Spinning Jenny
James Hargreaves, U.K.

He was a carpenter and weaver by trade.

He had no formal education and could not read or write.

2. Spinning Frame
Richard Arkwright, U.K.

He was the son of a tailor and trained as a barber. Had no education whatsoever and was taught to read and write by his cousin.

The world?s first industrialist and became one of the richest people in England in his day.

3. Spinning Mule
Samuel Crompton, U.K.

He was a musician by trade through which he raised enough money to invent things.

The machine allowed him to earn 4>5 times more money than just conventional weaving.

John Logie Baird, Scotland

When he was twelve he built his own telephone. He was an amateur radio-ham (he tinkered with radio equipment). Baird was 34 years old when he started building his "Televisor" system. Working on a shoestring budget, he built his first device using objects found in the attic where he was experimenting. An old tea chest was used to support the electric motor that turned the discs. The discs themselves were cut out of cardboard. Other parts were mounted upon pieces of scrap lumber. His lens came from an old bicycle lamp. Glue, sealing wax and wire held the device together.

One of the greatest and most important inventions ever and the basis of one of the world?s largest industries.

Nipkow disk (the pre-runner invention to the Television)
Paul Nipkow, Germany

He came from a middle-class family but had no great wealth.

He was an engineering student when he proposed and patented the world's first electromechanical television system.

Modern televisions (Basis of electronic system)
Philo Farnsworth, USA

He came from a working-class agricultural family living on a small farm.

For those inclined to think of our fading century as an era of the common man, let it be noted that the inventor of one of the century's greatest machines was a man called Philo Taylor Farnsworth. Even more, he was actually born in a log cabin, rode to high school on horseback and, without benefit of a university degree (indeed, at age 14), conceived the idea of electronic television ? the moment of inspiration coming, according to legend, while he was tilling a potato field back and forth with a horse-drawn harrow and realized that an electron beam could scan images the same way, line by line, just as you read a book. He came up with his ideas whilst still a schoolboy and by the age of 20 years demonstrated his invention.

Modern Television (Person who launched the industry) ? the 'kinescope,' a cathode-ray tube.
Vladimir Zworykin, Russia

He was an apprentice boat ferry operator on his father?s boats across the river Oka. He eagerly helped repair electrical equipment, and it soon became apparent that he was more interested in electricity than anything nautical.

He was a Russian immigrant who went to the USA to create his dream ? mass television. Zworykin's 'storage principle' is the basis of modern TV.

Cruise Control in Cars
Ralph Teetor, U.S.A.

He was a blind mechanical engineer who was in the top three in his class at university.

A totally blind person from the age of five.

Alternating Electric Current
Charles Proteus Steinmetz, Polish

He edited a student newspaper at university. After his groundbreaking invention. He was in essence a genius as he devoured books on every subject from mathematics and economics to literature and medicine Thomas Edison installed Steinmetz as consultant and research chief at his new General Electric Company in upstate New York.

One of his famous sayings was, "No man really becomes a fool until he stops asking questions."

Only 4?0? tall and deformed from birth but created the first commercially successful alternating current motor for General Electric which gave GE a world advantage which significantly built their industrial empire.

Telephone Answering Machines
Valdemar Poulsen, Denmark

He was a simply a basic telephone engineer but with an inventive flare to create things all on his own.

He worked for a telephone company and invented the first answerphone in his spare time.

Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis, Hungary

He was a basic doctor working in a hospital but saw more than all other and individually conceived the reasons to why so many people died in hospital.

When he first suggested anticeptics he was ridiculed by his fellow hospital doctors.

Apple Computer ? first single circuit board computer
Steve Wozniak, U.S.A.

He worked on calculators for Hewlett Packard who at the time were not producing computers in any way.

His hobby in his spare time created the famous Apple computer and started a revolution in personal computers.

Manufacturing assembly line
Eli Olds, U.S.A.

He started in a small way making steam and gasoline engines with his father.

Eventually the company grew and he invented an assembly line for greater productivity.

Felix Hoffmann, Germany

He was a line-worker chemist employed by a chemical firm.

He rediscovered an old formula through serendipity and told his employer about it. By chance this single employee created possibly the biggest selling medicinal pill in the world.

Automated electrified monorail systems
Ronald J. Riley, U.S.A.

In his early days he tinkered with toys and electronic devices on the workbench in his basement, and earned money by selling vegetables door to door.

Disillusioned with the limited roles and rewards gained by inventors within large companies (that he worked for) he became a self-employed inventor.

First commercial automatic sliding door.
Lew Hewitt and Dee Horton, U.S.A.

He worked for a small glass repair company that was constantly re-fitting broken glass to doors that had shattered due to high winds and the weather.

Literally established a brand-new industry.

The Pram (baby carriage)
William Kent, U.K.

He was an architect by profession and not a manufacturer or mechanical engineer.

He designed the pram on his drawing board for one of his clients.

Bakelite - the first plastic
Leo Hendrik Baekeland, Belgium

He was the son of a shoemaker and a maid. He became an assistant teaching professor after receiving his PhD. He went to the USA on a scholarship decided to stay there.

His first invention ?Velox? netted him ?1 million and allowed him to create Bakelite, which in itself created a whole new industry.

Ball point Pen
Laszlo & Georg Biro , Hungary

They were from a working-class family where Laszlo was a journalist and Georg was a chemist.

The brothers worked out and created a pen that would work in many situations unlike the fountain pen. Created a new global product.

Rubber Balloon
Michael Faraday, UK

Initially he was an apprentice bookbinder.

Only rudimentary education up to the age of 14 to read and write and do simple arithmetic.

Band Aid for skin cuts
Earle Dickson, USA

He was a cotton buyer and not a chemist or medical practitioner.

He was inspired to invent the?band-aid by his wife, Josephine Dickson, who was always cutting her fingers in the kitchen while preparing food.

Bar Codes
Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver, USA

They were both graduate students at a technology college.

Whilst young and at college a local food store had asked about a method of reading merchandise at the checkout. Silver picked this up and decided to do something about it.

Internal Combustion Engine - first effective gas motor engine - the first practical four-stroke internal combustion engine
Nicolaus Otto, Germany

He was a travelling salesman selling tea, coffee, and sugar. He had no training in mechanical engineering whatsoever.

He developed an interest in the new technologies of the day and began experimenting with building four-stroke engines. (As a travelling salesman he chanced upon a newspaper account of the Lenoir internal combustion engine. Before year's end, he had built an internal combustion engine, utilizing a four-stroke piston cycle.)

James Naismith, U.S.A.

He was a Canadian physical education instructor at the Y.M.C.A. training school [Springfield College

He invented and started one of America?s most popular sports that has become a multi-billion dollar industry.

Lightning Conductor?
Benjamin Franklin, U.S.A.

He had little formal education. He was a printer by profession and not a scientist.

A prolific inventor.

Benjamin Franklin,

He made them for himself as he grew older so that he had not to keep changing his glasses for near and far sight.

Gulf Stream
Benjamin Franklin,

He had little education but had a natural ability for great intuition.

He single-handedly determined that a conveyor system must be in operation in the Ocean.

Blue Jeans
Levi Strauss, U.S.A.

He was a Bavarian immigrant with little education. Sold rough canvas to use for tents and wagon covers and developed denim through an idea from a miner.

He started the world?s foremost jean company and a multi-billion company.

Calculating Machine.
Calculator - the first practical adding and listing machine.

William Seward Burroughs, U.S.A.

He was a bank clerk and not an engineer.

Working in a bank inspired him with a vision of a mechanical device that would relieve accountants and bookkeepers of the monotony of their tasks and ensure that a smaller percentage of their time was spent correcting errors.

First practical process of photography
Louis-Jacques-Mand? Daguerre, France

He was a scene painter for the opera, Daguerre and not a scientist.

He developed a system to take the first permanent photograph.

Wilson Greatbatch, U.S.A.

He was from a working-class family and in his early teens he built his own short wave radio receiver. He became an electrical engineer after serving in WW2..

He accidentally installed a resistor into an oscillator to record heart sounds with the wrong resistance, it began to give off a steady electrical pulse. He realized that the small device could be used to regulate the human heart.

The Modern computer - the Z3 - the world's first electronic, fully programmable digital computer (1941)
Konrad Zuse, Germany

He was a construction engineer for an aircraft company and not a scientist of computer programmer.

He invented the computer to help him with his lengthy engineering calculations. It was the first freely programmable computer.

Modern Beauty Cosmetics/make up
Max Faktor (Max Factor) , Poland

He came from a poor Polish family where his father could not afford any education for their ten children (Max being just one of them). Therefore he had no formal education whatsoever but self-taught himself over time.

He was apprenticed to a dentist and mixed basic dentistry potions for years. Started selling hand-made rouges, creams, fragrances, and wigs in Moscow. A chance happening (serendipity) occurred when a travelling theatrical troupe wore Factor?s make-up while performing for Russian nobility, and the door to fame and fortune opened wide.

Ivory Soap
An unknown soap maker who made a mistake at work at Procter and Gamble ? He or she would not own up to it as it was thought that they would be fired. Presumably whoever it was left the company before realising what had been invented., USA

Whoever he or she was they invented the world?s first floating soap.

It became one of Procter & Gamble?s most successful products ever.

Pine-Sol cleaner (the biggest selling household cleaner in the world)
Harry A. Cole, USA

He started a small business in the depression years. He slowly but surely supplied janitorial services that cleaned local banks.

He was living in the midst of miles of pine forest, and used pine oil, a natural disinfectant and deodorizer, to create a fresh smelling and highly effective cleaning product. This product was developed for self use ? like a great number of inventions.

S.O.S Soap Pads. For cleaning pots & pans etc ? Brillo Pads is a modern derivative
Ed Cox, USA

He was an aluminium pot salesman and not a products engineer.

He invented a pre-soaped pad with which to clean pots. Cox soon found out that the S.O.S pads were a hotter product than selling his pots and pans.

Disposable NAPPIES
Marion Donovan, USA

She was a young mother and housewife and not a product design engineer.

She first invented the 'Boater', a plastic covering for cloth diapers. She made her first Boater using a shower curtain. A year later she carried her ideas further. Using disposable absorbent material and combining it with her Boater design. She then created the first convenient disposable diaper. Manufacturers thought her product would be too expensive to produce. She left unable to sell or license her diaper patent, went into business for herself.

Diesel Engine
Rudolf Diesel, He was born in France into a poor Bavarian family who had immigrated.

Employed as a refrigerator engineer. In 1893 he was on an average wage. 5 years later in 1898 he was a millionaire (a huge sum 106 years ago) and got richer by the year thereafter.

He was motivated by the concept of sociological needs. Rudolf Diesel originally conceived the diesel engine to enable independent craftsmen and artisans to compete with large industry

Garbage Disposer
John W. Hammes, USA

He was an architect by profession and not a design products engineer.

He built his wife the world's first kitchen garbage disposer. After ten years of design improvement he went into business selling his appliance to the public and ceased working as an active architect.

Paper Towels
Irvin and Clarence Scott, USA

He had operated a failed paper commission business.

Initially his invention was developed for use in school classrooms to help prevent the spread of the common cold from child to child.

Disposable cellphone (1999)
Randice-Lisa Altschul, USA

She was a female toy designer with no prior experience in electronics said she developed the phone by surrounding herself with experts who shared her ''conceive-it, believe-it, achieve-it'' attitude.

She and colleagues have also created a paper laptop computer, which will sell for twenty dollars and serve as an internet access device. The STTTM technology has opened up the potential for creating countless new electronic products and countless cheaper versions of pre-existing products. If STTTM is all that it seems to be, this technology should be considered a milestone in electronic innovation.

Soft drink "Dr Pepper
Charles Alderton, USA

He was a young pharmacist at the time of his invention and not a soft drinks manufacturer.

He invented his own recipes for soft drinks and found one of his drinks was becoming very popular. This was the basis of the Dr Pepper Company which is the oldest major manufacturer of soft drink concentrates and syrups in the United States.

Alfred Nobel, Sweden

He was born in the year his father was made bankrupt. Unfortunately his father was made bankrupt a further time and his mother kept the family going by opening a small grocer?s shop. He collaborated with others to create dynamite and built the basis of dynamite by putting several pieces of knowledge together. Basically just like how the structure of DNA was determined. Nobel therefore had to go through bad periods in his life and where only through intuition and hard work was able to overcome these major handicaps in later life.

He was forcibly made to move his experimentation to a barge anchored on Lake M?laren. He was not discouraged and in 1864 he was able to start mass production of nitro-glycerine. Major companies founded by Nobel include Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), Great Britain; Soci?t? Centrale de Dynamite, France; and Dyno Industries

Chester Greenwood, USA

He was a school dropout who made his invention at the age of 15 years.

He made a fortune supplying Ear Protectors to U.S. soldiers during World War I. He went on to patent more many other inventions. In 1977, Maine?s legislature declared December 21 "Chester Greenwood Day" to honour a native son and his contribution to cold weather protection. He accumulated over 100 patents in his lifetime and the Smithsonian Institution has named him one of America's 15 outstanding inventors.

Ear plugs
Ray Benner , USA

He was a classical musician by profession and not a product design engineer.

The Benner?s designed a new ear plug made from silicone, a waterproof material, to help prevent swimmer's ear, an infection of the ear caused by exposure to water. Also their Pillow Soft Earplugs were great noise stoppers. Created a new industry.

Lear Jet executive airplane
William Lear, USA

He was only educated to 14 years of age. He learned his trade/knowledge when he joined the US Navy.

He had many critics who should realize that the vision that earned him sneers is the same vision that helped him transform the automotive, aviation and audio industries. If global technology has not advanced as quickly as Lear thought it would, it was through no fault of his own someone once said.

8-track stereo
William Lear, USA

First Heart Pacemaker (Externally fitted)
John Hopps, Canada

He was trained as an electrical engineer but later joined the National Research Council of Canada.

He conducted research on hypothermia. While experimenting with radio frequency heating to restore body temperature, Hopps made an unexpected discovery: if a heart stopped beating due to cooling, it could be started again by artificial stimulation using mechanical or electric means.

Heart Pacemaker (Internally fitted)
Wilson Greatbatch, USA

He was an electrical engineer who 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. He was building an oscillator to record heart sounds. When he accidentally installed a resistor with the wrong resistance into the unit, it began to give off a steady electrical pulse. He realized that the small device could be used to regulate the human heart. After two years of refinements, he had hand-crafted the world's first successful implantable pacemaker (patent #3,057,356). Until that time, the apparatus used to regulate heartbeat was the size of a television set, and painful to use.

corrosion-free lithium battery
Wilson Greatbatch,

His pacemakers and batteries have improved and saved the lives of millions of persons worldwide. In 1985 the US National Society of Professional Engineers named his invention one of the ten greatest engineering contributions to society of the last 50 years.

Rubber Industry
Thomas Hancock, Scotland

He was a coach builder by profession. Turned his attentions on rubber and what new products could be created from rubber. He later trained as an industrial chemist.

The need for waterproof clothing for stage coach passengers may have been at the back of his mind, but whatever it was by 1819 he was working on rubber solutions to apply to fabrics for making gloves, stockings and other garments. Known now as the ?Father of the Rubber Industry?.

Thomas Hancock, Scotland

He revolutionised the rubber industry and moved it forward.

Lift (first safe lift that enabled skyscrapers to be built ? without them skyscrapers were commercially of low value and low interest foe developers and occupants)
Elisha Otis, USA

He was born on a farm near Halifax, Vermont, the youngest of six children, he made several attempts at establishing businesses in his early years. However, chronically poor health led to continual financial woes.

He worked as a master mechanic in the bedstead factory of O. Tingley & Company. He remained about three years and during that time invented and put into use a railway safety brake, which could be controlled by the engineer, and ingenious devices to run rails for four-poster beds and to improve the operation of turbine wheels.
By 1852 he had moved to Yonkers, New York, to organize and install machinery for the bedstead firm of Maize & Burns, which was expanding. Josiah Maize needed a hoist to lift heavy equipment to the upper floor. Although hoists were not new, Otis' inventive nature had been piqued because of the equipment's safety problem.
If one could just devise a machine that wouldn't fall.... He hit upon the answer, a tough, steel wagon spring meshing with a ratchet. If the rope gave way, the spring would catch and hold.
In 1854 Otis dramatized his safety device on the floor of the Crystal Palace Exposition in New York. With a large audience on hand, the inventor ascended in an elevator cradled in an open-sided shaft. Halfway up, he had the hoisting cable cut with an axe. The platform held fast and the elevator industry was on its way. His brakes made skyscrapers a practical reality.

Electrogasdynamics - EGD (turning gas into energy)
Meredith Gourdine, USA

Has was brought up in Brooklyn & Harlem in a poor family.

Applications of EGD include refrigeration, desalination of sea water, and reducing the pollutants in smoke. He built a multi-million dollar corporation based on his ideas in the field of electrogasdynamics. He was responsible for the engineering technique termed Incineraid for aiding in the removal of smoke from buildings. His work on gas dispersion developed techniques for dispersing fog from airport runways. Meredith Gourdine also created a generator that allowed for the cheaper transmission of electricity. Created the basis of a whole new technological industry.

Xerography (photocopying)
Chester Carlson, USA

He was a young law student when he devised the basis of modern photocopying.

He had been frustrated with the slow mimeograph machine and the cost of photography and that lead him to inventing a new way of copying. He invented an electrostatic process that reproduced words on a page in just minutes.
He had a hard time finding investors in his new invention and was turned down by IBM and the U.S. Army Signal Corps. It took him eight years to find an investor, the Haloid Company which later became the Xerox Corporation.

Jean Antoine Nollet, France

He was initially a clergyman and later a physicist.

The Electroscope was the first instrument to detected the presence of electric charge by using electrostatic attraction and repulsion.

Ray Tomlinson, USA

He was a computer engineer for Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN), the company hired by the United States Defence Department to build the first Internet in 1968.

He used a file transfer protocol that he was working on called CYPNET to adapt the SNDMSG program so it could send electronic messages to any computer on the ARPANET network. He chose the @ symbol to tell which user was "at" what computer. The @ goes in between the user's login name and the name of his/her host computer. He created one of the biggest Communications? phenomena almost by accident - e-mail.
In 1971 he was tinkering with a programme that allowed staff at ARPANET to leave messages for each other. He'd been working on an experimental computer program called CYPNET that transferred files between linked computers, and thought it would be a neat idea if you could transfer messages as well as files.
He chose the '@' symbol to mark the difference between a message that needed to go to a mailbox on the local computer and one that was headed out onto the network.
Typically, he told his colleagues about it via the mail system and it caught on like wildfire - although it took about five years before his employer realised what a hot property they had.
He continues to work in software to this day. He said later that at the time he even didn't know he was creating something important.

First applied ?Steam Engine? of note
Thomas Savery, UK

He was a military engineer working on mine problems.

He designed it on Denis Papin's Digester or pressure cooker.

First Atmospheric steam engine (an improvement on Thomas Savery?s invention)
Thomas Newcomen, UK

He was a blacksmith who eventually worked together with Thomas Savery.

The Newcomen engine was the predecessor to the Watt engine and it was one of the most interesting pieces of technology developed during the 1700's. Although his pioneering work was highly important to the Industrial Revolution his position in life was humble, and he was not looked upon as an individual of even possible importance in the community.

Watt's engine
James Watt, UK

He was a university helper/researcher/ instrument maker working on improvements to Newcomen?s engine. He came from a working-class family background

Watt's engine became the dominant design for all modern steam engines and helped bring about the Industrial Revolution. A unit of power called the Watt was named after James Watt. Without Watt?s input the full industrialisation of Britain could not have happened as the efficient engines to do this would not have been there.

Jesse Reno, USA

His father was an officer in the US army and where his upbringing was predominantly of a military situation. This did not bring him into contact with many things outside the military but he had an intense interest in mechanical moving things.

He formulated his idea for an inclined moving stairway at age 16. It first began as an amusement. He created a new novelty ride at Coney Island, a moving stairway that elevated passengers on a conveyor belt at a 25 degree angle.?

Ethernet (connecting computers within a building using hardware running from machine to machine)
Robert Metcalfe, USA

He came from a working-class family and was fascinated by technology and gadgets as a child. He became a member of the research staff at Xerox and was given the project to solve the interconnecting problem between computers as the company was introducing laser printers.

He later developed a computer industry standard - LAN protocol.

First modern filters to polarize light
Edwin Herbert Land, USA

He came from a working-class family. As a youth he chose not to be stifled. Entering Harvard University in 1926 he left after only a few months to pursue his first great invention, plastic sheet polarizers. He was a college dropout twice but saw full well the power of science and gave an anonymous multi-million dollar sum for the Harvard Science Center--to give undergraduate science more weight in a research-oriented university.

When asked why he dropped out of college he said in a speech at MIT, that he had protested against a process that stifled students' drive to "greatness," that is, originality. He said that students had to wait too long to meet the first-rate minds, when they needed to begin direct research at once.

Polaroid photography & the creation of the Polaroid Corporation
Edwin Herbert Land, USA

He was inspired by his three year old daughter, who had asked him why she couldn't see a photo he had taken of her right away. He thereafter created a system of one-step photography.
Throughout his lifetime he held over 500 patents and ranks second only to the world?s most prolific inventor Thomas Edison in patent awarded prowess.

He founded a company that plunged himself into years of technical agony, mostly in grimy buildings. He learned to make reliable, cheap polarizers and sell them for camera filters and sunglasses, and persuaded investors of the huge potential market for polarizers to control headlight glare and view 3-D movies. With financing from James P. Warburg and other Wall Street leaders, the enterprise Polaroid Corporation was created.

Stephanie Kwolek, USA

Her father died when she was 10-years old. She was therefore brought up by her mother who was first a homemaker and then by necessity a career woman. She inherited a love of fabrics and sewing through her mother. At one time she thought she might become a fashion designer, but her mother warned her that she would probably starve in that business because she was such a perfectionist. Later she became interested in teaching and then in chemistry and medicine.

Kevlar is five times stronger than the same weight of steel. She patented Kwolek that does not rust nor corrode and is extremely lightweight. Many police officers owe their lives to her, for Kevlar is the material used in bullet proof vests. Other applications of the compound include underwater cables (fibre optics), brake linings, space vehicles, boats, parachutes, skis, and building materials. She obtained 28 patents for new products and where she is truly a modern day alchemist.

Georges Audemars, Switzerland

He was an amateur inventor and chemist working alone.

He invented the first crude artificial silk by dipping a needle into liquid mulberry bark pulp and gummy rubber to make threads. Rayon became a new industry that spanned the world.

George de Mestral, Switzerland

He was an amateur-mountaineer and inventor. His idea met with resistance and even laughter, but the inventor 'stuck' by his invention. Together with a weaver from a textile plant in France, he perfected his hook and loop fastener. By trial and error, he realized that nylon when sewn under infrared light, formed tough hooks for the burr side of the fastener. This finished the design, patented in 1955. The inventor formed Velcro Industries to manufacture his invention. He was selling over sixty million yards of Velcro per year. Today it is a multi-million dollar industry spaning the globe.

On one lovely summer day he decided to take his dog for a nature hike. The man and his faithful companion both returned home covered with burrs, the plant seed-sacs that cling to animal fur in order to travel to fertile new planting grounds. With burning curiosity he ran to his microscope and inspected one of the many burrs stuck to his pants. He saw all the small hooks that enabled the seed-bearing burr to cling so viciously to the tiny loops in the fabric of his pants. He raised his head from the microscope and smiled thinking, "I will design a unique, two-sided fastener, one side with stiff hooks like the burrs and the other side with soft loops like the fabric of my pants. I will call my invention 'velcro' a combination of the word velour and crochet. It will rival the zipper in its ability to fasten", he later told people.

Sewing machine
Elias Howe, USA

After he lost his factory job he found work in a machinist's shop. It was at that point that he began tinkering with the idea of inventing a mechanical sewing machine. Eventually his hobby made him one of the USA?s richest people.

Eight years after starting his invention he demonstrated his machine to the public. At 250 stitches a minute, his lockstitch mechanism outstitched the output of five hand sewers with a reputation for speed. For the next nine years he struggled, first to enlist interest in his machine, then to protect his patent from imitators.

Modern ?Zipper? for textile clothing
Gideon Sundback, Sweden

He was a working-class electrical engineer who was hired to work for a Fastener Company. He was not therefore a maker of zips but someone who kept electrical equipment working. He was an amateur inventor in his spare time.

When his wife died the grieving husband busied himself at the design table and designed the modern zipper. Another global industry was born by an independent inventor.

Fax Machine
Alexander Bain, Scotland

He was an amateur clock maker.

He received a British patent for ?improvements in producing and regulating electric currents and improvements in timepieces and in electric printing and signal telegraphs.? (Seven years earlier, the telegraph had been invented and the fax machine evolved from the telegraph technology.) He had created a fax machine transmitter that was designed to scan a flat surface (made of metal) using a stylus mounted on a pendulum and the stylus picked up the images on the surface. He adapted parts from clock mechanisms combined with telegraph technology to invent the fax machine.

Fibre Optics
Sam DiVita, USA

He was the Manager of Materials Research at one of the US Army Signal Corps Labs. It was his personal thinking that glass fibre and light signals might work.

With the help of an outside glass works to produce high purity SiO2 for a glass fibre to transmit light he announced to the world that fibre optics had been successfully created. Thereby seeding the industry and making what is today?s multi-billion dollar industry and made copper wire in communications a reality.

Photography (first ever practical process of)
Louis-Jacques-Mand? Daguerre, France

He was a professional scene painter for the opera house in Paris.

He formed a partnership with Joseph Nic?phore Ni?pce to improve the process Ni?pce had developed to take the first permanent photograph. After several years of experimentation, Daguerre developed a more convenient and effective method of photography, naming it after himself -- the daguerreotype. He sold the rights for the daguerreotype to the French government and published a booklet describing the process. (The daguerreotype gained popularity quickly; there were over seventy daguerreotype studios in New York City, USA alone.)?

Modern Lie Detector/Polygraph
John Larson, USA

He was a University of California medical student when he invented the modern lie detector (polygraph) used in police interrogation and investigations.

The device measures heartbeats and breathing to learn if a person is lying or not. It later included a skin monitoring system to tell if a person is sweating. If a person was sweating and their breathing and pulse became higher, an alarm would sound concluding that the person was lying. (i.e. The theory is that when a person lies, the lying causes a certain amount of stress that produces changes in several involuntary physiological reactions.

Liquid-Fueled Rocket (modern space travel)

He was intrigued with pyrotechnics from childhood.

He was totally ridiculed by newspapers and his own science fraternity when he first espoused his thinking on rockets and space travel. But through perseverance and knowing that he was right, he eventually showed the world that rocket travel was possible ? he is given the title of the ?father of modern rocket propulsion? and where now it is a multi-billion global industry.

World Wide Web
Time Berners-Lee, United Kingdom

He worked in a sawmill for extra cash during his studies at university. He was a software engineer doing a six-month stint at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, in Geneva. CERN did not ask Berners-Lee to invent the www nor did they invent it as some people have comprehended.. He was in his spare time doodling around with a way to organize his far-flung notes. He had always been interested in programs that dealt with information in a "brain-like way" but that could improve upon that occasionally memory-constrained organ. So he devised a piece of software that could, as he put it, keep "track of all the random associations one comes across in real life and brains are supposed to be so good at remembering but sometimes mine wouldn't." He called it Enquire, short for Enquire Within Upon Everything, a Victorian-era encyclopedia he remembered from childhood. He continued and in his own time eventually created the WWW. Therefore Berners-Lee could have been working for anyone at the time when he invented the www and it was only by sheer chance that he was temporarily employed by the CERN at the time but where CERN played no physical part in the invention.

Unlike so many of the inventions that have moved the world, this one truly was the work of one man. Thomas Edison got credit for the light bulb, but he had dozens of people in his lab working on it. William Shockley may have fathered the transistor, but two of his research scientists actually built it. And if there ever was a thing that was made by committee, the Internet ? with its protocols and packet switching ? is it. But the World Wide Web is Berners-Lee's alone. He designed it. He personally let it loose on the world. And he more than anyone else has fought to keep it open, non-proprietary and free. If he had kept it for himself he would have been the richest person ever.

Automobile (mass production)
Henry Ford, USA

He was born into a working class family on a country farm and educated in district schools. After leaving school with a basic education only he became a machinist's apprentice.

Most people credit him with inventing the automobile. The fact is he didn't. He did, however, introduce standardized interchangeable parts and assembly-line techniques in his plant. Which allowed for mass production of automobiles.

Traffic Light (Modern control lights that first used yellow, the third light)
William Potts, USA

He was simply a Police officer and not a design engineer.

He used red, amber and green lights and thirty-seven dollars worth of wire to form this light, which was put on the corner of Woodward and Michigan Avenues in Detroit. Around the same time, African- American Garrett Morgan invented the automated traffic light which worked basically the same way the railroad lights work today. This was the concept on which four way traffic lights are built.

Bread Slicer
Frederick Rowedder, USA

He was a mechanic by trade.

He worked on his idea of a bread slicer and finally completed a machine that could successfully cut and wrap a loaf of bread. This machine was later improved by baker Gustav Papendick.

Fire Extinguisher
Alanson Crane, USA

He was an amateur inventor.

He created an instant success and the basis of a global industry.

Electric light
Thomas Edison, USA

He was a bell boy on the emerging US railway system with little education.

One of his many inventions that changed the world and created the basis of the largest company in the world, General Electric.

Flying Shuttle (textiles)
John Kay, UK

He was the twelfth child of a farmer with little education but had a inquisitive and enquiring mind.

It enabled weavers to weave faster and it paved the way for mechanical power looms that revolutionised mass textile manufacture.

First practical fountain pen
Lewis Waterman , USA

He was an insurance broker with no previous knowledge of pen making.

He was getting ready to sign one of his biggest hottest contracts ever. In honour of the occasion he bought a new fountain pen that he considered far more stylish than a cumbersome dip pen and ink well. With the contract on the table and the pen in the client?s hand, the pen refused to write, and actually leaked onto the precious document. Horrified he raced back to his office for another contract, but a competing broker had closed the deal when he got back. Determined to never again suffer such humiliation he began to make fountain pens in his brother?s workshop. He used the capillarity principle which allowed air to induce a steady and even flow of ink. From thereon he started the Waterman empire.

Ballpoint pen
Laszlo Biro, Hungary

He was a journalist by profession

He had noticed that the type of ink used in newspaper printing dried quickly, leaving the paper dry and smudge-free. He decided to create a pen using the same type of ink. The thicker ink would not flow from a regular pen nib and he had to devise a new type of point. He did so by fitting his pen with a tiny ball bearing in its tip. As the pen moved along the paper, the ball rotated picking up ink from the ink cartridge and leaving it on the paper. Now there are billions sold every year.

Machine for cutting and heading nails in one operation
Jacob Perkins, USA

Started out in life as an apprentice goldsmith with no training in mechanical matters.

Started the mass production of nails and a new global industry.

Bathometer (measures the depth of water)
Jacob Perkins,

Created a new niche industry.

Pleometer (measures the speed at which a vessel moves through the water).
Jacob Perkins,

Created a new niche industry.

Radiator (for use with hot water central heating)
Jacob Perkins,

Created the basis of central heating and a new global industry.

Process for transferring engravings from one steel plate to another
Jacob Perkins,

Invented the process due to increased workload.

First practical refrigerating machine - Fridge
Jacob Perkins,

Started the modern refrigeration industry with his basic fridge. Now millions of fridges are sold every year.

Flash-freeze foods (and deliver them to the public)
Clarence Birdseye, USA

He was a taxidermist by trade. Later after he had sold his invention and patent he turned his attention to other interests and invented an infrared heat lamp, a spotlight for store window displays, a harpoon for marking whales. He then established companies to market these products.

He wished his family could have fresh food all year. After observing the people of the Arctic preserving fresh fish and meat in barrels of sea water quickly frozen by the arctic temperatures, he concluded that it was the rapid freezing in the extremely low temperatures that made food retain freshness when thawed and cooked months later. With an investment of $7 for an electric fan, buckets of brine, and cakes of ice he invented and later perfected a system of packing fresh food into waxed cardboard boxes and flash-freezing under high pressure. Goldman-Sachs and the General Foods Corporation bought his patents and trademarks in 1929 for $22 million.

Fuel Cells
William Robert Grove, UK

He was a Welsh judge amateur inventor

He mixed hydrogen and oxygen in the presence of an electrolyte, and produced electricity and water. The invention, which later became known as a fuel cell, didn't produce enough electricity to be useful at the time.?

Green plastic garbage bag
Harry Wasylyk , Canada

Was an inventor by profession.

Electric light bulb (first to patent the idea)
Henry Woodward & Mathew Evans, Canada

Woodward was a medical student at the time & Evans was a hotel owner.

Patented the first incandescent lamp with an electric light bulb. They understood that carbon was a conductor and made light inside a bulb by sending electricity through a filament made of carbon. They did not have enough money to develop their invention for people to use and sold a share of their patent to Thomas Edison who was also struggling with his own light bulb experiment.

Process to convert oil to gasoline.
William Meriam Burton, USA

He was a chemist working for Standard Oil.

His process was the breakthrough that the automobile industry required and a major factor in making John Davison Rockefeller the richest person in the world ever and the head of the world?s largest company at the time.(in comparative terms Rockefeller at his height was over four times richer that Bill Gates of Microsoft ? who remarkably through his mother has his ancestry also from Scotland).

United States Steel Corporation
Andrew Carnegie, Scotland

He started out in life in a textile mill as a bobbin boy at the age of 14 years and after that as a telegraphic messenger (very similar background to that of Thomas Edison who was a railway bell-boy and who eventually formed the basis of General Electric , the world?s largest company)

By anticipating that oil and steel would be in great demand he decided to set up his first steel plant with his savings and a bank loan. After building up the United States Steel Corporation and selling to the US government he became the richest person in the world at the time.

Standard Oil Company
John Davison Rockefeller, USA (but his mother?s family came from Scotland)

He came from a normal working family where his father was a roaming healer who charged US$25 for a so-called cure for Cancer. At the age of 16 he began looking for work in Cleveland as a bookkeeper or clerk. Business was bad in Cleveland at the time and he had problems finding a job. He was always neatly dressed in a dark suit and black tie. Cleveland was not a large city at the time and he could easily visit every business in under a week?s time. He returned to many businesses three times. Finally he got a job as an assistant bookkeeper with Hewitt & Tuttle, commission merchants and produce shippers.

Her founded the Standard Oil company with just US$900.

Geobond (a fire resistant building material)
Patricia Billings, USA

She was a sculpture artist who developed a durable additive to prevent her painstaking plaster works from accidentally falling and shattering. Currently Geobond is being sold in more than 20 markets worldwide, and Patricia Billings, great grandmother, artist, inventor remains at the helm of her carefully constructed business empire.

After nearly two decades of basement experiments, the result of her efforts was a solution which when added to a mixture of gypsum and concrete, creates an amazingly fire resistant, indestructible plaster trademarked Geobond. Not only can Geobond add longevity to artistic works of plastic, but also it is steadily being embraced by the construction industry as an almost universal building material. Geobond is made with non-toxic ingredients which makes it the ideal replacement for asbestos. She had indirectly 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. A new global industry by sheer chance and unintentional.
Famous Geodesic Domes: Walt Disney Epcot Center: Expo 67:

Geodesic dome
Richard Buckminster Fuller,

Started out in life as an apprentice machine fitter. He was prior to his great work jobless and broke with a wife and newborn daughter to support. His first daughter had died four years previous and Buckminster Fuller was still living in mourning. He had attempted suicide and was drinking heavily. In the darkness of that year, Buckminster Fuller went through a spiritual rebirth that changed the course of his life. He decided to dedicate his life to finding out how much difference one man could make in the world.

He coined the word 'Dymaxion', a contraction of the words 'dynamic', 'maximum' and 'ion' that represented resource-efficient and self-sustaining technologies. Under the Dymaxion ideal, he developed a series of inventions from lightweight homes, streamlined cars to the geodesic dome.
The geodesic dome combines the sphere, the most efficient container of volume per square foot, with the tetrahedron, which provides the greatest strength for the least volume of weight.
The geodesic dome can withstand winds of 210 mph, while at the same time it is light and easily transportable.
Quick to build, a geodesic dome can be put up in hours. A geodesic dome can withstand hurricanes and earthquakes far better than conventional buildings.
The geodesic dome is the only structure that actually gets stronger, lighter in density and cheaper per square foot with size.
Over 200,000 of such geodesic domes have been built.
People use geodesic domes as homes and shelter from pole to pole.

Carbon microphone transmitter (basis of modern telephone)
Emile Berliner, Germany/USA

Initially he worked as an assistant in a chemistry lab, and sold dry goods to support himself. Within six years, he had re-invented the telephone and invented the gramophone, making both suitable for mass production.

He sold the rights to Bell Telephone Company, which only then was able to mass market the device. Created a whole new global industry.

Record (for mapping sound)
Emile Berliner,

He developed a method for mapping out sounds in a spiralling, wavering groove etched into a flat disk (first of glass, then of zinc, then of plastic); the sounds were "read" by a needle, which transmitted the pattern of vibrations to a diaphragm, which then reproduced the original sounds. Her sold the rights to the Record Company of America ( RCA), thereby providing them their first major product.

Grocery Bag
Margaret Knight, USA

When she was just 12 years old, she had an idea for a stop-motion device that could be used in textile mills to shut down machinery, preventing workers from being injured. Was an employee in a paper bag factory but was a born inventor who obtained throughout her life 26 patents for her varied inventions from internal combustion engines to window frame and sash and machinery for cutting shoe soles.

She invented a new machine part that would automatically fold and glue paper bags to create square bottoms for paper bags. Paper bags had been more like envelopes before. Workmen reportedly refused her advice when first installing the equipment because they mistakenly thought, "what does a woman know about machines?" She can be considered the mother of the grocery bag and where she founded the Eastern Paper Bag Company.

Rotary Engine
Margaret Knight,

Dress and skirt shield?
Margaret Knight,

Clasp for robes?
Margaret Knight,

Numbering machine
Margaret Knight,

Window frame and sash
Margaret Knight,

bubble gum
Walter E. Diemer, USA

He was an accountant at a chewing gum company.

In his spare time at work he was playing around with new gum recipes. By accident one of his brew was unexpectedly, crucially different. It was less sticky than regular chewing gum and also stretched more easily. At 23 years of age he saw the bubbles first hand as well as the possibilities. The company that he worked for developed the new product and formed a new global market.

Hallmark Card Company
Joyce C. Hall, USA

He was a high school dropout. He started out in life as a picture-postcard peddler.

He overcame both poverty and a lack of a formal education to become the architect of an industry. He once said, "If a man goes into business with only the idea of making a lot of money, chances are he won't.?But if he puts service and quality first, the money will take care of itself.?Producing a first-class product that meets a real need is a much stronger motivation for success than getting rich."

Fluorescent tube (forerunner)
Heinrich Geissler, Germany

He was a glassblower who privately experimented.

He placed gas in a tube under a low pressure and applied an electrical voltage. The result was that the gas glowed.

Hydraulic Jack
Richard Dudgeon, USA

He was a machinist and constant tinkerer who created through his thinking the world?s largest manufacturers of hydraulic jacks.

He started in a machine shop and invented a ?portable hydraulic jack ? and his company has not looked back since. It now designs, manufactures, rents and sells high-pressure hydraulic jacking equipment used to lift bridges, roofs and a range of other heavy structures. His Company now manufactures single-acting jacks of up to 1,250 tons capacity, as well as other types, pumps, controls and synchronous systems, load test systems (for piles and so on) as well as hydrostatic test pumps. Its innovations have now produced multi-piston hydraulic jacks for limited spaces such as in bridges up to 50 ton capacity each within a height of 1.5in and a stroke of 0.75in. For the NASA the company has manufactured 1 inch, 1,200 ton load cells. With the continuing trend to assemble large prefab elements, it?s always a good thing to have an idea of how you?re going to move and lift them.

Modern Helicopter
Igor Sikorsky, Russia

While still a schoolboy in Russia he built several model aircraft and helicopters. This provided the basis of his lifetime work in aeronautics and eventually the title of the father of helicopters.

After arriving in the USA as an immigrant with little to his name, he soon found out that his money was running out and he resorted to teaching Russian immigrants mathematics, later astronomy and aviation lessons were included. He also started to lecture to various groups which brought him in contact with people who shared his enthusiasm for aviation which convinced him to start his own aeronautical enterprise ? the Sikorsky Corporation.

Rotary clothes line
Lance Hill, Australia

He started his inventive career after he returned from the Second World War. He was unemployed and actively looking for work when he decided to do something about it other than strike lucky. From his garden shed he made a prototype that eventually started a major Australian company with sales worldwide.

He invented the rotary clothes line because his wife asked him if he could think of something better than the old clothes line and prop that she had.

Ray Tomlinson, USA

He was and still is today a software engineer working for BBN Technologies, a subsidiary of Verizon Communications. (The content of the first email message ? from him on one computer to himself on another -- is forgotten. He didn't make a big deal of his breakthrough. "When he showed to his colleague Jerry Burchfiel, he said, ?Don't tell anyone! This isn't what we're supposed to be working on.'").

He created one of the biggest communications?phenomena almost by accident. At the time he didn't know he was creating something important. When asked how he did it he mused, "I think I may have just dragged my fingers across the keyboard.

In 1971 he was tinkering with a programme that allowed staff at ARPANET to leave messages for each other. He'd been working on an experimental computer program called CYPNET that transferred files between linked computers, and thought it would be a neat idea if you could transfer messages as well as files.

He chose the '@' symbol to mark the difference between a message that needed to go to a mailbox on the local computer and one that was headed out onto the network.

Typically, he told his colleagues about it via the mail system and it caught on like wildfire - although it took about five years before ARPANET realised what a hot property they had.

Roy Jacuzzi, Italy

As a teenager he worked in the family business in a variety of odd jobs, learning how things worked from the ground up. In 1968, his passion for design and engineering emerged when he invented and marketed the world?s first fully integrated whirlpool bath, known as the Roman. He had sensed that American consumers were moving toward an emphasis on health, fitness and leisure activities.

He invented the world?s first whirlpool bath in 1968. He was determined and peddled his invention one at a time at county fairs and trade shows. While his family members looked on with both surprise and delight, he slowly and surely ? and nearly single-handedly ? created a brand new industry. The Roman whirlpool tub became an icon of free-spirited relaxation in the 1970?s ? and the brand Jacuzz i? became forever imprinted in American minds.

Jacquard Loom
Joseph Marie Jacquard, France

Was a working weaver and where he could not support his wife who had to undertake a very menial job to exist.

In his spare time he in constructed improved loom. His final design weaved complex designs and where eventually France had 11,000 Jacquard Looms alone.

Eventually the French government declared that the loom was public property because its commercial success was so important for France.

Janney coupler (Semiautomatic railway coupling)
Eli Janney, USA

He was a dry goods clerk with an interest in railways.

He used his lunch hours to whittle from wood an alternative to the link and pin coupler that was so slow and dangerous to couple up railway carriages. His invention eventually became a world leader as it saved time and was safe.

Kitty Litter
Edward Lowe, USA

He worked for his father selling industrial absorbents, including products such as sawdust and an absorbent clay called Fuller's Earth. (Vital to his phenomenal and sustained success was a fiery desire to pursue a continuing cycle of listening, learning and innovating).

Because his neighbour?s cat was trailing ashy paw prints all over her home she mentioned to him that she wished that there was a cleaner alternative. He suggested that she use absorbent clay, she did and loved it. Thereafter he started to distribute his kitty litter from the back of his car while travelling around the USA with his father?s products. Because of the remarkable success of his intuition and thinking he founded Edward Lowe Industries, Inc. to mass manufacture and distribute the successful kitty litter products. An example of many where one simple product created a vast new industry.

Laptop Computer
William Moggridge, UK

He started a small design firm on his own.

One of his commissions was to design a small compact computer that could move with you when you moved. His work enabled the first laptop to be created.

Gordon Gould, USA

He dropped out of university to concentrate on his personal thinking and to exploit its commercial potential.

His mechanically-minded mother encouraged him to be innovative and make things with his hands. Later, through such encouragement he conceived and designed one of the most significant inventions of the 20th century: the laser.

Now countless practical applications of lasers have been established, including welding, scanning and surgery. Created a new multi-global industry.

Liquid Crystals
George H. Heilmeier, USA

He was a research engineer.

His private thinking sparked him into producing a paper on the possibility of using liquid crystals for displays. Kick-starting a new multi-billion dollar industry from scratch.

Adhesive postage stamp
Roland Hill, UK

He was a schoolmaster.

He was knighted for his invention.

First postage stamp in the world
Roland Hill, UK

Liquid paper
Bette Nesmith Graham, USA

She was a secretary, single parent and artist by profession.

She never intended to be an inventor; she wanted to be an artist. However, shortly after World War II ended, she found herself divorced with a small child to support. She learned shorthand and typing and got a job as an executive secretary. An efficient employee who took pride in her work, she sought a better way to correct typing errors. She remembered that artists painted over their mistakes on canvas, so why couldn?t typists paint over their mistakes?

She then put some tempera water based paint, coloured to match the stationery she used, in a bottle and took her watercolour brush to the office. She used this to correct her typing mistakes? her boss never noticed. Soon another secretary saw the new invention and asked for some of the correcting fluid. She found a green bottle at home, wrote "Mistake Out" on a label, and gave it to her friend. Soon all the secretaries in the building were asking for some, too. So started a product that has gone all over the world.

Personal Computer
Steve Jobs, USA

He was an orphan who was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs. He started out designing computer games for software companies.

After comprehending were the world was going he started work in his father?s family garage making the new computers that would change his life for ever and managed to make his first "killing" when the Byte Shop in Mountain View bought his first fifty fully assembled computers. On that basis the Apple Corporation was founded, the name based on his favourite fruit. Apple changed people's idea of a computer from a gigantic and inscrutable mass of vacuum tubes only used by big business and the government to a small box used by ordinary people. His thinking literally revolutionized the computer hardware and software industry.

Magnetic Core Memory
Kenneth H. Olsen, USA

He began his career working summers in a machine shop. Fixing radios in his basement gave him the reputation of a neighbourhood 'Edison.'

He formed the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). Digital began producing printed circuit logic modules used by engineers to test electronic equipment. The company also started developing the world's first small interactive computer.

Digital produced the PDP-11, which became the most popular minicomputer line in history.

He received patents for a saturable switch, a diode transformer gate circuit, magnetic core memory, and the line printer buffer. From humble beginnings DEC grew on the back of its innovations to be a major computer force.

Multicoordinate Digital Information Storage Device - Random Access Memory (RAM)
Jay W. Forrester, USA

He was brought up on a cattle ranch but where his personal interest was the field of computers.

He was a pioneer in early digital computer development and invented random-access, coincident-current magnetic storage, which became the standard memory device for digital computers and which made billions for the manufacturers.

Mail Order Catalogue
Aaron Montgomery Ward, USA

When he was fourteen, he was apprenticed to a trade to help support the family.

He first worked on a cutting machine in a barrel stave factory, and then stacking brick in a kiln. He then got employment at a department store as both a store clerk and a travelling salesman.

As a travelling salesman, he realized that his rural customers could be better served by mail-order, a revolutionary idea. He started his business with only $2,400 in capital. His company Montgomery Ward was a mail-order only business until 1926, when the first Montgomery Ward retail store opened. Mail order is now a global industry worth multi-billions in sales every year.

Matches (first strikable anywhere)
John Walker, UK

He worked in a chemist?s shop and was an apothecary.

Felix Hoffman, Germany

He was a chemist by profession but created Aspirin in his own time to help his family ease the pain of a disease that was crippling his father.

Coca Cola (world?s most successful soft drink)
Pemberton, USA

He went to a pharmacy school and started a small drug store.

The Protractor
Joseph Huddart, USA

He was a ship?s captain.

John Campbell, UK

He was a ship?s captain.

John Harrison, UK

He was a carpenter and amateur watchmaker with little formal education.

First Practical MRI Scanner (basis of all modern medical full-body scanners)
John Mallard, UK

He was a university researcher who spent 17 years of his life developing a practical MRI machine to see his great thinking and work disappear to other nations when British industry and the ?City? would not back his work. Indeed, he developed two of the most important diagnostic technologies of the 20th century, namely Nuclear Medicine and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging (NMRI).

Transistor (a single invention that is the basis of an industry now turning over US$1.7 TRILLION ? source Texas Instruments website). It is probably the most important invention of the 20th century.
William Bradford Shockley (co-inventor), USA (but born in the UK)

He was a physics researcher working at Bell Labs. His father, William Snr was an MIT-trained mining engineer and adventurer, quite capable of staring down bandits at gunpoint on Mongolian railroads, but largely incapable of making a living. His mother became the first woman surveyor in Nevada's silver mining territory.

John Bardeen (co-inventor), USA

He was one of five children with an interest in science.

Walter H. Brattain (co-inventor), USA

He was brought up on a cattle ranch and later claimed that he put his cattle-herding skills to good use when he went to work in research laboratories.

Integrated Circuit
Jack Kilby (Joint-inventor), USA

He began his career as a rather undistinguished scientist. He couldn't get into Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and he got consistently average grades as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois. But barely ten years after he graduated from college he independently invented an integrated chip, the kind of chip that today lies in the heart of every computer. By incorporating all the necessary electronic components onto a single crystal of silicon. He never obtained a PhD but became one of the greatest electrical engineers of all time.

Integrated Circuit
Robert Norton Noyce (Joint-inventor), USA

His father was a preacher. He was the third of four boys. As a child he showed an early interest in tinkering and figuring out how things work for himself.

He had no interest in pure research and was an inventor by heart. He started the INTEL Corporation, the 9th largest company in the world with a shareholder value of US$185 Billion at 26th July 2004.

He learned from his former employer?s mistakes and he gave his young, bright employees phenomenal room to accomplish what they wished, in many ways defining the Silicon Valley working style.

Microscope (modern practical)
Anton Van Leeuwenhoek, Netherlands

He started as an apprentice in a dry goods store where magnifying glasses were used to count the threads in cloth.

He once wrote, "My work, which I've done for a long time, was not pursued in order to gain the praise I now enjoy, but chiefly from a craving after knowledge, which I notice resides in me more than in most other men. And therewithal, whenever I found out anything remarkable, I have thought it my duty to put down my discovery on paper, so that all ingenious people might be informed thereof.".

He is given the title of ?Father of the Microscope?.

He was inspired by the glasses used by drapers to inspect the quality of cloth. He taught himself new methods for grinding and polishing tiny lenses of great curvature which gave magnifications up to 270x diameters, the finest known at that time.?These lenses led to the building of his Leeuwenhoek's microscopes considered the first practical microscopes, and the biological discoveries for which he is famous. He was the first to see and describe bacteria, yeast plants, the teeming life in a drop of water, and the circulation of blood corpuscles in capillaries. During a long life he used his lenses to make pioneer studies on an extraordinary variety of things, both living and non-living organisms.

From these humble beginnings magnifying optics became eventually a global industry.

Microbiological sciences
Louis Pasteur, France

He was a chemist by profession and not a medical doctor as many think.

He was the only son of a poorly educated tanner. He was not an outstanding student during his years of elementary education, preferring fishing and drawing to other subjects. In fact, when he was young his drawings suggested that he could easily have become a superior portrait Artist. His later drawings of friends done at college were so professional that he was listed in at least two compendia of XIX C. artists.

(His main contributions to microbiology and medicine were; instituting changes in hospital/medical practices to minimize the spread of disease by microbes or germs, discovering that weak forms of disease could be used as an immunization against stronger forms and that rabies was transmitted by viruses too small to be seen under the microscopes of the time, introducing the medical world to the concept of viruses. Because he believed in serendipity and that many discoveries were made by sheer chance, he was once asked, "Did you ever observe to whom the accidents happen?? He replied, ?Chance favours only the prepared mind", now a well known fact in all walks of life.

Three of his children died of typhoid fever, possibly leading to Pasteur's drive to save people from disease. He graduated in with honours in physics, mathematics, Latin, and drawing.

In his early research he worked with the wine growers of France, helping with the fermentation process to develop a way to pasteurise and kill germs. He then worked within the textile industry finding a cure for a disease affecting silk worms. He also found cures for chicken cholera, anthrax and rabies.

During his lifetime it was not easy for him to convince others of his ideas, controversial in their time but considered absolutely correct today. He fought to convince surgeons that germs existed and carried diseases, and dirty instruments and hands spread germs and therefore disease. His pasteurisation process, kills germs and prevents the spread of disease.

He coined the word ?Germ? and introduced the world to the concept of Viruses.

He is given the title of ?Father of Microbiology and Immunology?.

These great works derived by a single person from a poor family make clear that people from ordinary backgrounds can literally change the world for the better. Indeed, this single person provided the basis of many global industries that are essential to modern life.

If one were to choose among the greatest benefactors of humanity, Louis Pasteur would certainly rank at the top.

Polymerase chain Reaction (PCR) - (The patents were sold by his employer Cetus to Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. for $300,000,000 in 1991)
Kary Banks Mullis, USA

He was brought up on a small country farm where none of the family had ever been interested in science. Other than a scientist he is a surfer and considered an "intellectual maverick" by many. He conceived and developed the idea of PCR and where that idea was not the product of a painstaking laboratory discipline, but was conceived while cruising in a Honda Civic on Highway 128 from San Francisco to Mendocino.

"I do my best thinking while driving," the scientist with the tanned face and bleached hair once explained. For this brilliant idea born at the speed of 50 m.p.h., he received a $10,000 bonus from his employer Cetus, with whom he eventually parted ways. He now lives in a small apartment across from Windansea Beach, a surfing spot made famous by Tom Wolfe's novel, "The Pump House Gang."

Once in a while in the world of science, there comes an idea or a tool so ingenious that it revolutionizes the way people ask questions, .PCR, is one of these technologies. It has not only made a tremendous impact on the scientific community, but it has also affected many aspects of our everyday lives.

The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), which he devised has quite literally revolutionized DNA technology. PCR amplifies specific DNA sequences from very small amounts of complex genetic material. The amplification produces an almost unlimited number of highly purified DNA molecules suitable for analysis or manipulation. PCR has allowed screening for genetic and infectious diseases. Analysis of DNAs from different populations, including DNA from extinct species, has allowed the reconstruction of phylogenetic trees including primates and humans. PCR is essential to forensics and paternity testing.

Invention Impact
It has had a major impact on molecular biology, medicine, forensics, molecular palaeontology, and many related fields.

PCR immediately spread to laboratories around the world where DNA chemistry was performed. PCR technology has grown into a mult-Billion dollar a year industry.

His employer Cetus later sold the technology to La Roche for $300,000,000.

Microwave oven
Percy LaBaron Spencer, USA

He was twice orphaned, had no formal education, lived on a small country farm and was a totally self-taught engineer. In this respect he applied to be an electrician first having no knowledge of the discipline whatsoever. After learning on the job entirely by trial and error, he emerged as a competent electrician. Thereafter he educated himself further by joining the US Navy in the war effort and then companies within the electrical industry.

During a radar-related research project testing a new vacuum tube called a magnetron he noticed that a candy bar in his pocket had melted. He placed some popcorn kernels near the tube and observed the popcorn popping. Later he made a metal box into which he fed microwave power. The microwaves would cook food placed in the box. In fact, he boiled an egg and due to the yoke cooking faster than the white, it blew up in his face.

Microwave ovens are now a part of every modern household and where this single invention from a self-educated engineer has produced a global industry turning over US$ billions every year.

General Electric (GE) ? world?s largest company
Thomas Edison, USA

He had only rudimentary education as a child and was according to his school teacher a poor student. Thereafter with only 3-months of formal education his mother took him from his school and taught him at home. With no formal learning qualifications he started out in his working life as a railroad?s bell-boy (selling newspapers and candy) and of course with no technical knowledge whatsoever.

At an early age he showed a fascination for mechanical things and for chemical experiments. He set up in the baggage car what could be called his first laboratory for his chemistry experiments and a printing press, where he started the "Grand Trunk Herald", the first newspaper published on a train.

GE can trace back through its history and beginning to the companies formed by Thomas Edison. His famous quotation was that, "Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration?.

Light bulb
Thomas Edison,

He was the youngest of seven children with little going for him as a child and in poor health. At the age of 12-years he lost nearly all his hearing. This major disablement that persisted throughout his life made him more solitary and shy in dealings with others. Therefore organizations should take note that disabled people can be the very people who they should hire at times. Edison?s example proves that all people have immeasurable skills. Indeed, skills that can eventually spawn the largest company in the world.

Electric bulbs are used throughout the world and where this product has created just one of many multi-billion industries from the thinking of a totally self-educated scientist and engineer of the first-order. By the time of his death he had obtained 1,093 United States patents, the most issued to any individual ever.

Thomas Edison,

Thomas Edison,

He believed that inventing useful products offered everyone the opportunity for fame and fortune while benefiting society.

Improvements upon the original design of the stock ticker, the telegraph, and Alexander Graham Bell?s telephone.
Thomas Edison,

Electricity Industry in the USA
Thomas Edison,

He created the first electricity generating companies in the USA

Alexander Graham Bell, UK

He was the son and grandson of people who taught elocution and the correction of speech. He was educated to pursue a career in the same specialty and with this knowledge of the nature of sound it led him not only to teach the deaf, but also to invent the telephone.

Bell shows that the diversity of thought in other areas can create the world?s primary industries and those that are worth billions.

When he began experimenting with electrical signals, the telegraph had been an established means of communication for some 30 years. Although a highly successful system, the telegraph, with its dot-and-dash Morse Code, was basically limited to receiving and sending one message at a time. His extensive knowledge of the nature of sound and his understanding of music enabled him to conjecture the possibility of transmitting multiple messages over the same wire at the same time. Although the idea of a multiple telegraph had been in existence for some time, he offered his own musical or harmonic approach as a possible practical solution. This "harmonic telegraph" was based on the principle that several notes could be sent simultaneously along the same wire if the notes or signals differed in pitch.

He once said, "Leave the beaten track occasionally and dive into the woods. Every time you do so you will be certain to find something that you have never seen before. Follow it up, explore all around it, and before you know it, you will have something worth thinking about to occupy your mind. All really big discoveries are the results of thought."

Cell Phones/Mobile Phones ? First hand-held
Martin Cooper, USA

Trained as an electrical engineer and served in the US Navy on combat ships and submarines prior to starting with Motorola Corporation.

His application of cell phone technology was years ahead of all others although Bell Labs. had first created the technology ten years before. Bell had not the foresight to see what they had in their hands. He is given the title of ?Father of the Cellular Phone?.

Alexander Fleming, UK

He was brought up on a remote sheep farm in Scotland with little early access to education. He started out in life working as a shipping clerk.

One of the great accidents and serendipitous events in the history of science and medicine.

In this case it was when he left a culture plate smeared with Staphylococcus bacteria on his lab bench while he went on a two-week holiday.

When he returned, he noticed a clear halo surrounding the yellow-green growth of a mould that had accidentally contaminated the plate. Unknown to him, a spore of a rare variant called Penicillium notatum had drifted in from a mycology lab one floor below. Luck would have it that he had decided not to store his culture in a warm incubator, and that London was then hit by a cold spell, giving the mould a chance to grow. Later, as the temperature rose, the Staphylococcus bacteria grew like a lawn, covering the entire plate ? except for the area surrounding the mouldy contaminant. Seeing that halo was his "Eureka" moment, an instant of great personal insight and deductive reasoning. He correctly deduced that the mould must have released a substance that inhibited the growth of the bacteria.

Penicillin has now saved millions of lives over the years and thereby a new industry has been created around it. Indeed, the indirect economic effect of sustaining the lives of those people who have been saved through this treatment has probably allowed vast wealth to be delivered and which would not have been there otherwise. In this respect the health of a company?s workforce is of paramount concern.

56K Modem (for telecommunications)
Brent Townsend, Canada

He is an electrical engineer who worked for Bell Labs before he started his own company.

He came up with the idea while building an appliance for downloading music from servers over direct-dial phone connections. His Music Fax system looked to be a precursor of file-sharing systems - and lawsuit magnets - such as Napster and Kazaa. Working on Music Fax, he recognized that modem speeds were too slow for real-time playing of songs. Early MPEG could transmit good sound at 50K to 60K bit/sec, but the fastest modems only topped out at 33.6K bit/sec.

He noticed that downloads from servers connected to the phone network via digital links, such as T-1s, could reach 56K bit/sec because they didn't have to undergo speed-sapping analog-to-digital conversions. Uploads required these conversions, limiting speeds to 33.6K bit/sec. He patented technology essential to making fast-down, slow-up modems.

He said, ?This is an easy thing to do. I can just license this to people that are in the modem business. I don't have to start competing with them or set up my own distribution".

His patent claim came as a horrible surprise to International Telecommunication Union members working on a 56K bit/sec modem standard in 1996. At a meeting, word came out that he had not only filed for a patent but had already licensed his ideas to modem maker U.S. Robotics.

He has since made and is making millions from this sole invention that his global patents protect.

Nuclear Isotopes for Cancer Treatment
Glenn T. Seaborg, USA

He was with his father and mother an immigrant from Sweden. His father was a working-class machinist. And once said that had they not gone to the USA he would probably have been a machinist as well as all his former generations had been a machinist.

Most nuclear isotopes used in the fight against Cancer are those created by Seaborg.

Although Seaborg with others created the atomic bomb he unceasingly worked for the limitation in the arms race. One of many examples of his humanity was when he wrote to President Harry Truman at the backend of World War II to deter him from dropping the atomic bomb on Japan, suggesting that he first demonstrate the weapon to the world on a barren island. Having amongst other great scientific achievements discovered with his team nearly 10% of the Universe?s Elements, he became the only ?living? scientist to have an element named in his honour ? Element 106 Seaborgium.

Nystatin (worlds first non-toxic and useful antifungal antibiotic)
Rachel Fuller Brown (co inventor), USA

Her father left the family when she was twelve. Her mother worked as a secretary at various churches. She had therefore no one to instil a scientific life but this is what happened through serindipidy.

Through long distance collaboration she shared tests and samples with Elizabeth Hazen via the U.S. mail. To Hazen's single-minded pursuit of an antifungal antibiotic, Brown added the skills needed to identify, characterize, and purify the various substances produced by culturing bacteria found in hundreds of soil samples.

Not only did it cure many disfiguring and disabling fungal infections of the skin, mouth, throat, and intestinal tract, but it could be combined with antibacterial drugs to balance their effects.

Nystatin (worlds first useful antifungal antibiotic)
Elizabeth Lee Hazen (co inventor), USA

She was orphaned at the age of three and raised by relatives. She attending a one-room school.

See above.

X-Ray Tube
William David Coolidge, USA

His father was a shoemaker by occupation and supplemented his income by running a farm of seven acres. His mother was a dressmaker in her spare time. He was brought up where there was very limited family financial resources.

As an only child of his parents, he had a regular routine of farm chores. This, however, left room for fishing (summer and winter), baseball, hiking, skating, and primitive skiing. Photography became a lifelong hobby, and during this period he built a basement darkroom and constructed his own camera, including the shutter.

After grade school he attended Hudson High School where, in due time, he graduated valedictorian in his class of thirteen. En route, he quit school for a while and took a job in a local factory manufacturing rubber garments. After a few months he decided that this was not a very good idea, and he went back to school, where he caught up with his class without difficulty. He had assumed that, with very limited family financial resources, he would not be going to college at the end of the school year. His plans changed when a friend who had been impressed by his scholastic record and his mechanical and electrical aptitudes suggested that he might be able to obtain a state scholarship to MIT. He applied, the grant was awarded, and in the fall of 1891 he went to Boston to continue his studies.

It is impossible to estimate the number of lives that have been saved thanks to Coolidge's greatest achievement---to say nothing of its applications in scientific research (for example, in analyzing the structure of crystals). The "Coolidge tube" stands as a classic example of an inventive mind harnessing a phenomenon of nature and putting it to use for the good of humanity.

Crookes tube (precursor of the X-ray tube)
William Crookes, UK

His father was a tailor from the North of England

He received rudimentary education to the age of 14 years. His father became very rich and upon his death inherited his fortune. With this money he created his own private laboratory where all his great discoveries took place.

Nonreflecting glass (invisible glass)
Katherine J. Blodgett, France/USA

She did not attend normal school for most of her life and was raised solely by her mother. With these handicaps she became the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in Physics from Cambridge University. Her scant economy forced her to support herself on extra work; one of her jobs was catching cats for the physiological laboratory.

She is responsible for the way we all view the world. Without the research that she and Irving Langmuir pioneered in the 1920's and 30's, we would see things in an entirely different light.

During WWI and WWII, her research was of great consequence. She pioneered methods of de-icing aircraft wings, poison gas absorption, and improved smokescreens. As well, of course, the Langmuir-Blodgett films had a wide range of wartime uses, including periscopes, binoculars, range finders, and telescopes, all of which are still in use.

Her pioneering spirit and thirst for knowledge have provided us with much of the technology we use. The computer screen through which you are viewing this article, the glasses you might be wearing, the television you watch, or the movie, DLP, LCD or CRT projector through which the next film you see is projected, are all possible because of her efforts.

New-born scoring system
Virginia Apgar, USA

Her father was an insurance executive and the family had no scientific relatives in the family.

When a baby is born, the new parents immediately memorize the child's weight, length and time of birth. But there's an equally important vital statistic they frequently note: the child's "Apgar score."

She developed the now famous test that measures the infant's physical condition minutes after birth. Her efforts led at least one health official to credit her with doing more to improve the health of mothers, babies and the unborn than perhaps anyone this century. Given at one minute and five minutes after birth, the Apgar test quickly assesses the: ???A ppearance (skin color), ???P ulse, ???G rimace (reflexes), A ctivity (muscle activity) and R espiration (breathing).

A low score can immediately signal the need for emergency medical attention. She is said to have developed the lO-point scoring system in 1952 to force physicians and nurses to pay more attention to newborns in the first critical minutes of life. As a result, her work formed the foundation of what was then a new medical specialty-perinatology, which since has helped save countless infant lives. Her contributions to medicine and health, however, extended far beyond the development of the infant test that bears her name.

Computer mouse
Douglas Engelbart, USA/Norway

His family were immigrants that travelled from Norway to the US. His father was a salesman for a while, but he became interested in radio and started a radio shop selling and repairing radios. His father died when he was 9 years old. He initially after graduating had a line-job putting things together.

He envisioned a computer that would work in the modern office and made it a practical reality. In the early days he tried building a radio with crystals but they never worked. He dedicated his career to designing systems that could help humans collectively manage their increasing complex world.

Aluminum manufacturing process
Charles Martin Hall, USA

His father was a church minister. He was a private experimenter working with basic equipment.

He only had his BA in chemistry (basic knowledge) and a driving interest in providing an inexpensive way to liberate aluminium. His university teacher who once said in his class that anyone who could achieve this would be very rich indeed fuelled this drive. He took his teacher?s words literally and invented such a system. The equivalent in many ways of the Bessamer Converter that made cheap steel production possible years earlier.

His was predominantly musically minded. After graduating with a BA he invented an inexpensive method for the production of aluminum. On February 23, 1886 in the woodshed behind his family's home, he produced globules of aluminum metal by the electrolysis of aluminum oxide dissolved in a cryolite-aluminum fluoride mixture and repeated this experiment the next day for his sister Julia to witness. He was 22years of age at the time. This achievement was the culmination of several years of intensive work on this problem. He was granted patent #400,655 for his process.

Not only did he have to devise a method for winning aluminum metal, but he also had to fabricate most of his apparatus and prepare his chemicals.

He found a financial backer in Alfred E. Hunt, and the two of them founded the Pittsburgh Reduction Company (later ALCOA). The rest is history.

Computerized Telephone Switching System
Erna Schneider Hoover, USA

She was a medievalist, logistician, working mother, and computer programmer.

She was the first woman elected to the US National Inventors Hall of Fame.

She earned a B.A. with honors from in medieval history and a Ph.D. in philosophy and foundations of mathematics.

She was in the hospital after giving birth to one of her three daughters when she drew up the first sketches of her system. Her solution was to use a computer to monitor the frequency of incoming calls at different times, and to adjust the call acceptance rate accordingly. By putting a simple theory into practice through the complexities of computer programming, she eliminated the danger of overload in processing calls.

O-ring (a rubber doughnut nestled inside a grooved metal housing)
Niels Christensen, Denmark

He was a pensioner and an independent inventor who patented the O-Ring at the age of 72 years.

He invented it whilst developing automobile brakes.

The O-Ring is the most widely adapted seal in history because of its simplicity, low cost, ease of installation, and small space requirements without supporting structures.

It has created a whole new global industry that industry is now dependant upon.

Optical diagnostic equipment
Tuan Vo-Dinh, Vietnam

During the Vietnam War he received a scholarship from the government of Vietnam and went to Switzerland to be educated. Science was his great interest and where he built his own toys as a boy.

He has invented numerous lifesaving devices that detect and diagnose diseases by optical scanning. One of his first patents was for a disimeter, a device that workers (those employed in plants, laboratories, etc.) can clip to their clothing, and at the end of the day, it gives the reading of any material the employee has been exposed to. Another devise that he has invented can recognize the mutation of genes in the human body to see whether a person has the likelihood to develop a disease such as cancer, Alzheimer, or it can detect a virus like HIV, tuberculosis or microbes.

He has also invented a number of life-saving devices which detect and diagnose diseases, defects and toxins by optical scanning (using lasers and fiberoptics) rather than biopsy (the removal of bodily tissue for analysis).

Compact Disc
James T. Russell, USA

At age six, he invented a remote-control battleship, with a storage chamber for his lunch.

In 1965 he patented a system to read a sequence of sampled music recorded on a disc via a laser. The system remained on the drawing board until the 1980s.

He was an avid music listener. Like many audiophiles of the time, he was continually frustrated by the wear and tear suffered by his vinyl phonograph records. He was also unsatisfied with their sound quality: his experimental improvements included using a cactus needle as a stylus.

Alone at home on a Saturday afternoon, he began to sketch out a better music recording system - and was inspired with a truly revolutionary idea.

Like many ideas far ahead of their time, the CD-ROM found few interested investors at first; but eventually, Sony and other audio companies realized the implications and purchased licenses.

Robert Watson-Watt, Scotland

He was a direct descendant of James Watt, pioneer of the steam engine. He was the youngest son and his father, like his grandfather, was a carpenter by trade, an Elder of the Presbyterian Church and a very able Sunday School teacher. His mother, was a temperance reformer, a feminist and described her as miraculous.

It was his thinking and his thinking alone. No one, either government or industry, asked him to invent RADAR. He did it out of personal thinking, interest and great intuition.

Radar (RAdio Detection And Ranging), was the single biggest technological factor in the Allied victory of the Battle of Britain and in achieving and maintaining mastery of the skies throughout World War II.

His first line of research was in meteorology where he used short-wave radio to detect the location of thunderstorms. By combining this direction finding technique with the ranging capabilities of ionosondes, he designed a system that was capable of detecting aeroplanes.

Anti-pollution devices
Mary Walton, USA

She was an independent inventor who was not one to stand idly by choking on the smog that the factories produced during the Industrial Revolution.

After cleaning up the air, she moved onto the noise pollution that seemed to fill the air as well as the heads of New Yorkers.

Working in her basement, Walton built a model train set and began working to cut down on the clanging of the trolleys. She built a wooden box, painted it with tar, lined it with cotton, and filled it with sand. The vibration from the rails was absorbed. After putting her invention under the struts that supported the city trains, she received a patent for her work. She sold the rights of her patent to the New York City Metropolitan railroad.

Elevated railway
Mary Walton, USA

Improved locomotive chimney
Mary Walton, USA

Car heater
Margaret Wilcox, USA

Invented it for herself to keep warm.

Computer program (world?s first documented computer programmer)
Augusta Ada Byron, UK

She was the daughter of English poet Lord Byron but had no interest in poetry and was fascinated with physical calculations that proved something. With the help of friends and tutors, she taught herself geometry and later attended classes in astronomy and mathematics.

In 1833 she met British mathematician and inventor Charles Babbage. He had invented the Difference Engine, a mechanical device designed to handle complicated mathematical problems. She showed her understanding of the concept of a programmed computer in 1842, when she translated from French and annotated a paper by the Italian engineer Luigi F. Menabrea on Babbage's Difference Engine. She also collaborated with Babbage to invent the Analytical Engine, an archetype of the modern digital computer. The technology of their time was not capable of translating their ideas into practical use, but the Analytical Engine had many features of the modern computer. It could read data from a deck of punched cards, store data, and perform arithmetic operations.

Components of her work remain in the modern digital electronic computer that receives a set of instructions, then carries out those instructions.She set of instructions was a forerunner of modern programming languages and historians have credited her as the first computer programmer.

Fire Escapes
Anna Connelly, USA

She was the first person to patent the idea.

She designed them in such a way that people could not go up the fire escape, only down them despite what one sees in old movies.

Grain storage bin
Lizzie Dickelman, USA

She was an independent farmer and inventor.

She needed it for enhanced farm production

Ventilated storehouse
Lizzie Dickelman, USA

She needed it for enhanced farm production

Heated brooder (where incubated chicks could be nested without the hens)
Lizzie Dickelman, USA

She needed it for enhanced farm production

Engine muffler
El Dorado Jones, USA

She was an independent inventor.

She simply hated the engine noise and decided to do something about it.

Circular Saw
Tabitha Babbit, USA

She was a member of the Shaker society and invented the circular saw as she sat there at her spinning wheel watching some of her Brother Shakers toiling while they cut wood. She observed that one half of the motion was lost, and so conceived the idea of the circular saw. She made a thin disk, notched it around the edge, slipped it on the spindle of her spinning wheel, tried it on a piece of shingle, found that it would cut and gave the world the buzz saw. The first circular saw made under her instructions is on exhibit in the Geological Building at Albany, NY.

The Shakers were modernists. Sister Tabitha invented the circular saw and sought effective ways to produce the community's goods, blending quality craft with new production techniques. The Shakers were among the first to build and operate circular sawmills in this country, and later applied this technology to other areas as well.

Rotary washing Machine
Margaret Plunkett Colvin, USA

She was a housewife and inventor.

She made it for herself to make life easier.

Outboard boat motor
Ole Evinrude, Norway

When his family emigration to America, when he was five he spent almost the entire trip in the ship's engine room.

He much preferred working with farm tools and machinery, first around his father's property, then as an apprentice and labourer in factories all over the US Midwest. A tireless worker, he allowed himself only one indulgence, a subscription to a mechanics magazine.

Founded an industry and managed a thriving company while remaining one of America's most honest and generous businessmen.

He first read about the internal combustion engine, already being used in Germany experimentally to power the "horseless carriage."

Whilst going to buy an ice-cream for his young love around a bay, he realised that not just automobiles needed an engine but a small boat would make the trip far quicker. Thereafter he started his new concept and never looked back.

Propeller driven ships?
John Ericsson, Sweden

As a youth, he joined the Swedish Army, which recognized his talents and put him to work on topographical duties.

He moved to England, where he pursued a variety of engineering projects, among them the use of screw propellers on ships, the development of extraordinarily large guns and the creation of engines driven by hot air instead of steam.

Deep-sea sounding device
John Ericsson, Sweden

First Traffic Lights (manually operated)
J P Knight, UK

He came from a working-class family who rose to become superintendent on the South-Eastern railway of Britain.

He simply designed them from those on his railways to control traffic and pedestrians.

Molecular sieves
Edith Flanigen, USA

Her mother was a homemaker and her dad was in the lumber business. She came from a working-class background.

Imagine looking into a tiny crystal and seeing in it the ability to make gasoline cleaner, water purer and natural gas safer. That's the first step toward understanding the simple power of a zeolite -- and the genius of chemist Edith Flanigen.

For a couple of centuries, zeolite crystals had intrigued scientists because they contain tiny channels and cavities inside that act like a sieve.

Where a filter stops larger particles and allows smaller ones to pass through, a sieve sends through larger particles while trapping smaller molecules in its complex web.

She was the woman who learnt how to make all kinds of zeolites in a lab and harness their unique properties.

The most significant of these discoveries was ``zeolite Y'' -- a sieve that could take the crude oil found in earth and break it down into its parts. It separated the part that is turned into gasoline in a way that was cleaner and safer than any previous refining method.

Today, other sieves are used to purify water and remove moisture from refrigerator lines and auto air conditioners so they don't freeze.

They dry and purify natural gas for the home, are used to clean up nuclear waste sites (including Three Mile Island and Chernobyl) and are used to make household detergents more environmentally friendly.

They are used in dual-pane windows to help save energy and prevent fogging, and have found their way into personal hygiene products for their ability to absorb odours.

Today ?molecular sieves? are a multi-billion dollar global industry and created in the main by one single woman.

The Screw Propeller for driving Ships (1st Practical introducer of)
Francis Petttit Smith, UK

He was a grazing farmer on Romney Marsh in Kent, UK

He had a fascination with boats and made many models of boats. His experiments extending over many years. He arrived at the conclusion that his method of propelling steam vessels by means of a screw was much superior to paddles; at that time exclusively employed.

As with all great technological breakthroughs almost simultaneously a Swede had also invented the ship screw propeller. But although Captain Ericsson invented a screw propeller also, Smith took out his patent in May, 1836; and Ericsson in the following July. Therefore Smith was the first to patent his great invention and the precedence is seeded to the English farmer.

Ken Olsen, USA

He was the son of a working-class Danish migrant. He had an intense interest in the workings and construction of computers.

He founded Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and made the world's first minicomputer. He always considered himself as a working engineer and insisted on working on the shop floor and not in an office. There is DEC folklore of him wearing chequered work shirts and being mistaken for the janitor by a new employees.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Waldo L. Semon, USA

He was born into a working-class family and as a new employee decided to pursue a dubious project. Instead of digging into his assigned work (adhesives), he began trying to dissolve an undesirable material called polyvinyl chloride (PVC) to create an adhesive for bonding rubber to metal. 'People then thought of PVC as worthless back then,' he recalled. 'They'd throw it in the trash bin.'

He never succeeded in creating the adhesive he was told to create by his employer, but by heating PVC in a solvent at a high boiling point he discovered a substance that was both flexible and elastic. At first no one literally knew what to make of Semon's newfangled substance, but decades later PVC has become the world's second-best-selling plastic, generating billions of dollars in sales each year.

PVDC wrapping films ? the basis of ?cling-film?.
Ralph Wiley, USA

He was a chemical lab worker who accidentally discovered polyvinylidene chloride or Saran. He was a college student who cleaned glassware in a Dow Chemical lab and came across a vial he couldn't scrub clean. He called the substance "eonite", after an indestructible material in the comic strip "Little Orphan Annie." Dow researchers made his "eonite" into a greasy, dark green film, which Dow called "Saran". The military sprayed it on fighter planes to guard against salty sea spray and carmakers used it for upholstery. Dow later got rid the of Saran's green colour and unpleasant odour.

Saran films are best known in the form of Saran Wrap ? film, the first cling wrap designed for household (1953) and commercial use (1949), introduced by the Dow Chemical Company. Saran Wrap ? brand plastic film is now marketed by S. C. Johnson.

Saran polyvinylidene chloride or Saran resins and films (called PVDC) have been wrapping products for more than 50 years. Saran works by polymerizing vinylide chloride with monomers such as acrylic esters and unsaturated carboxyl groups, forming long chains of vinylide chloride. The copolymerization results in a film with molecules bound so tightly together that very little gas or water can get through. The result is a barrier against oxygen, moisture, chemicals and heat-qualities used to protect food, consumer and industrial products. PVDC is resistant to oxygen, water, acids, bases, and solvents.

After World War 2, it was approved for food packaging, and it was Prior Sanctioned in 1956 (Society of the Plastics Industry). PVDC is cleared for use as a food contact surface as a base polymer, in food package gaskets, in direct contact with dry foods, and for paperboard coating in contact with fatty and aqueous foods.

Saran resins for food contact can be extruded, coextruded or coated by a processor to meet specific packaging needs. About 85 percent of PVDC is used as a thin layer between cellophane, paper and plastic packaging to improve barrier performance. For non-food contact, Saran resins can be used for molding and melt adhesive bonding. In combination with polyolefins, polystyrene and other polymers, Saran can be coextruded into multilayer sheets, films and tubes.

Cotton swabs or Q-tip
Leo Gerstenzang, Poland

He was a Polish immigrant who travelled to the USA with little money or financial support.

One day he found himself watching his wife applying cotton wads to toothpicks in an attempt to reach hard-to-clean areas. He noticed that his wife had stuck a bit of cotton on a toothpick and was using it to clean their baby's ears. Thinking that this jerry-rigged swab might cause some damage to the child?s ear he designed a safer cotton swab.

Modern Safety Pin
Walter Hunt, USA

He was a mechanic by trade and an amateur inventor in his spare time.

It was twisting a piece of wire, trying to think of something that would help him pay off a fifteen dollar debt that provided him with the invention. But he thought little of his safety pin as an invention and soon sold the patent for four hundred dollars.

Richard James, USA

He was a naval engineer trying to develop a meter designed to monitor horsepower on naval battleships. He was working with tension springs when one of the springs fell to the ground. He saw how the spring kept moving after it hit the ground and an idea for a toy was born.

He remarked to his wife Betty, "I think I can make a toy out of this." Richard then spent the next two years figuring out the best steel gauge and coil to use in making the toy and Betty James found a name for the new toy after discovering in the dictionary that the word "Slinky" is a Swedish word meaning traespiral - sleek or sinuous.

He and his wife founded a Company with $500 dollars to mass produce their creation. Over a quarter of a billion Slinkys ? have been sold worldwide.

Slot Machines
Charles Fey, USA

He was a mechanic by trade and freelance inventor.

This invention has travelled the world and created instant gambling and fortunes for many businesses. Indeed, although a simple technological product it is a product that makes vast amounts of money every day of the year and provides a continuous flow of global income.

Vacuum cleaner (electric)
James Murray Spangler, USA

He was a janitor in a department store.

He deduced that the carpet sweeper he used was the source of his cough. He tinkered with an old fan motor and attached it to a soap box stapled to a broom handle. Using a pillow case as a dust collector on the contraption, Spangler invented a portable electric vacuum cleaner. He then improved his basic model the first to use both a cloth filter bag and cleaning attachments, and received a patent and formed the Electric Suction Sweeper Company. One of the first buyers was a cousin, whose husband, William H. Hoover, later became the president of the Hoover Company, with Spangler as superintendent. Hoover?s improvements resembled a bagpipe attached to a cake box, but they worked. Sluggish sales were given a kick by Hoover?s 10 day, free home trial, and eventually there was a Hoover? vacuum cleaner in nearly every home.

vacuum packed canning
Amanda Jones, USA

She was a poet, editor and inventor but not an engineer or scientist.

She published her first poems in the??pages of the "Ladies' Repository," a Methodist magazine located in??Cincinnati, Ohio. During the Civil War she penned a number of war-songs that??received a wide circulation. After the war she became an associate??editor on the Chicago journal, the "Universe," and was subsequently a??contributor to the "Western Rural." Later she was named editor of "The??Bright Side," a juvenile weekly. Later she cut back on her literary??work to pursue the commercial interests that would add her name to the??roster of American inventors, well earned by her successful food canning??process and her device for the safe fuelling of oil furnaces.

VisiCalc ? (the first computer spreadsheet program)
Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston, USA

They were from working-class backgrounds and where their invention stemmed out of frustration. He knew computers could be of immense benefit for business and through his knowledge he also knew that there had to be a better way to do spreadsheets than was presently available at that time. Bricklin began to create a software program that would do for numbers what word processing did for words -- enable the user to insert and delete elements and see an immediate change in the results.

Whilst a masters student in business administration at Harvard Business School, Dan Bricklin joined up with Bob Frankston to help him write the programming for his new electronic spreadsheet. The two started their own company, Software Arts Inc., to develop their product after graduating.

Computer spreadsheet programs are now a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide.

Walkie talkie
Al Gross, USA

By the time he was twelve, he had turned his basement into an amateur radio headquarters, thanks to equipment gleaned from junkyards. He obtained his amateur radio license at the age of 16. His early interest in amateur radio helped set his career choice while he was still a teenager.

He developed it while he was still in high school. He developed circuits and components for miniaturized portable communications that were unheard of for that era.

He played a major role in establishing miniaturized portable communication and the base for a new global industry.