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FAMOUS INVENTIONS


Choose your 20 favourite inventions and say WHY?



INVENTION
YEAR
INVENTOR
COUNTRY
aerosol can
1926
Erik Rotheim
Norway
air conditioning
1902
Willis Haviland Carrier
US
airbag, automotive
1952
John Hetrick
US
airplane, engine-powered
1903
Wilbur & Orville Wright
US



alphabet
c. 1700–1500 BC
Semitic-speaking peoples
eastern coast of Mediterranean Sea
American Sign Language
1817
Thomas H. Gallaudet
US
animation, motion-picture
1906
J. Stuart Blackton
US
answering machine, telephone
1898
Valdemar Poulsen
Denmark
aspartame
1965
James Schlatter
US
aspirin
1897
Felix Hoffmann (Bayer)
Germany
assembly line
1913
Henry Ford
US
astrolabe
c. 2nd century
AstroTurf
1965
James M. Faria, Robert T. Wright
US
audiotape
1928
Fritz Pfleumer
Germany
automated teller machine (ATM)
1968
Don Wetzel
US
automobile
1889
Gottlieb Daimler
Germany
baby food, prepared
1927
Dorothy Gerber
US
bag, flat-bottomed paper
1870
Margaret Knight
US
Bakelite
1907
Leo Hendrik Baekeland
US
ball bearing
1794
Philip Vaughan
England
balloon, hot-air
1783
Joseph & Étienne Montgolfier
France
bandage, adhesive
1921
Earle Dickson
US
bar code
1952
Joseph Woodland
US
barbed wire
1874
Joseph Glidden
US
barometer
1643
Evangelista Torricelli
Italy
battery, electric storage
1800
Alessandro Volta
Italy




bicycle
1818
Baron Karl de Drais de Sauerbrun
Germany
bifocal lens
1784
Benjamin Franklin
US
bikini
1946
Louis Réard
France
blood bank
late 1930s
Charles Richard Drew
US
blow-dryer
1920
Racine Universal Motor Co., Hamilton Beach Manufacturing Co.
US
bomb, atomic
1945
J. Robert Oppenheimer, et al.
US
bomb, thermonuclear (hydrogen)
1952
Edward Teller, et al.
US
boomerang
c. 15,000 years ago
Aboriginal peoples
Australia
Braille system
1824
Louis Braille
France
brassiere (bra)
1913
Mary Phelps Jacob
US
bread, sliced (bread-slicing machine)
1928
Otto Frederick Rohwedder
US
button
c. 700 BC
Greeks, Etruscans
Greece, Italy
buttonhole
13th century
Europe
calculator, electronic hand-held
1967
Jack S. Kilby
US
calculus
1680s
Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (invented separately)
England and Germany (respectively)
calendar, modern (Gregorian)
1582
Pope Gregory XIII
Italy
camcorder
1982
Sony Corp.
Japan
camera, motion picture
1891
Thomas Alva Edison, William K.L. Dickson
US
camera, portable photographic
1888
George Eastman
US
can, metal beverage
1933
American Can Co.
US
can opener
1858
Ezra J. Warner
US
candle
c. 3000 BC
Egypt, Crete
canning, food
1809
Nicolas Appert
France
carbon-14 dating
1946
Willard F. Libby
US
cardboard, corrugated
1871
Albert Jones
US
cards, playing
c. 10th century
China
cash register
1879
James Ritty
US
cat litter
1947
Edward Lowe
US
catalog, mail-order
1872
Aaron Montgomery Ward
US
cellophane
1911
Jacques E. Brandenberger
Switzerland
celluloid
1869
John Wesley Hyatt
US
cement, portland
1824
Joseph Aspdin
England
cereal flakes, breakfast
1894
John Harvey Kellogg
US
chewing gum (modern)
c. 1870
Thomas Adams
US
chocolate
c. 3rd–10th century
Maya, Aztecs
Central America, Mexico
chronometer
1762
John Harrison
England
clock, pendulum
1656
Christiaan Huygens
The Netherlands
clock, quartz
1927
Warren A. Marrison
Canada/US
cloning, animal
1970
John B. Gurdon
UK
coffee, drip
1908
Melitta Bentz
Germany
coffee, decaffeinated
1905
Ludwig Roselius
Germany
coins
c. 650 BC
Lydians
Turkey
compact disc (CD)
1980
Philips Electronics, Sony Corp.
The Netherlands, Japan
compass, magnetic
c. 12th century
China, Europe
computed tomography (CT scan, CAT scan)
1972
Godfrey Hounsfield, Allan Cormack
UK, US
computer, electronic digital
1939
John V. Atanasoff, Clifford E. Berry
US
computer, laptop
1983
Radio Shack Corp.
US
computer, personal
1974
MITS (Micro Instrumentation Telemetry Systems)
US
concrete, reinforced
1867
Joseph Monier
France
condom, latex
c. 1930
contact lenses
1887
Adolf Fick
Germany
contraceptives, oral
early 1950s
Gregory Pincus, John Rock, Min Chueh Chang
US
corn, hybrid
1917
Donald F. Jones
US
correction fluid, white
1951
Bette Nesmith
US
cotton gin
1793
Eli Whitney
US
coupon, grocery
1894
Asa Candler
US
crayons, children's wax
1903
Edwin Binney, C. Harold Smith
US
cream separator (dairy processing)
1878
Carl Gustaf Patrik de Laval
Sweden
credit card
1950
Frank McNamara, Ralph Schneider (Diners' Club)
US
crossword puzzles
1913
Arthur Wynne
US
DDT
1874
Othmar Zeidler
Germany
defibrillator
1952
Paul M. Zoll
US
dentures
c. 700 BC
Etruscans
Italy
detector, metal
late 1920s
Gerhard Fisher
Germany/US
detector, home smoke
1969
Randolph Smith, Kenneth House
US
diamond, artificial
1955
General Electric Co.
US
diapers, disposable
1950
Marion Donovan
US
digital videodisc (DVD)
1995
consortium of international electronics companies
Japan, US, The Netherlands
dishwasher
1886
Josephine Cochrane
US
DNA fingerprinting
1984
Alec Jeffreys
UK
doughnut, ring-shaped
1847
Hanson Crockett Gregory
US
door, revolving
1888
Theophilus von Kannel
US
drinking fountain
c. 1905–1912
Luther Haws, Halsey W. Taylor (invented separately)
US
dry cleaning
1855
Jean Baptiste Jolly
France
dynamite
1867
Alfred Nobel
Sweden
elastic, fabric
c. 1830
Thomas Hancock
UK
electric chair
1888
Harold P. Brown, Arthur E. Kennelly
US
electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG)
1903
Willem Einthoven
The Netherlands
electroencephalogram (EEG)
1929
Hans Berger
Germany
electronic mail (e-mail)
1971
Ray Tomlinson
US
elevator, passenger
1852
Elisha Graves Otis
US
encyclopedia
c. 4th century BC or 77 AD
Speusippus (compliation of Plato's teachings) or Pliny the Elder (comprehensive work)
Greece or Rome
engine, internal-combustion
1859
Étienne Lenoir
France
engine, jet
1930
Sir Frank Whittle
UK
engine, liquid-fueled rocket
1926
Robert H. Goddard
US
engine, steam
1698
Thomas Savery
England
escalator
1891
Jesse W. Reno
US
eyeglasses
1280s
Salvino degli Armati or Alessandro di Spina
Italy
facsimile (fax)
1842
Alexander Bain
Scotland
fiber optics
1955
Narinder S. Kapany
India
fiberglass
1938
Owens Corning (corp.)
US
film, photographic
1884
George Eastman
US
flashlight, battery-operated portable
1899
Conrad Hubert
Russia/US
flask, vacuum (Thermos)
1892
Sir James Dewar
Scotland
food processor
1971
Pierre Verdon
France
foods, freeze-dried
1946
Earl W. Flosdorf
US
foods, frozen
c. 1924
Clarence Birdseye
US
Fresnel lens
1820
Augustin-Jean Fresnel
France
fuel cell
1839
William R. Grove
UK
genetic engineering
1973
Stanley N. Cohen, Herbert W. Boyer
US
Geiger counter
1908
Hans Geiger
Germany
glass
c. 2500 BC
Egyptians or Phoenicians
Egypt or Lebanon
glass, safety
1909
Édouard Bénédictus
France
greeting card, Christmas
1843
John Callcott Horsley
England
guillotine
1792
Joseph-Ignace Guillotin
France
guitar, electric
1941
Les Paul
US
gunpowder
c. 10th century
China or Arabia
hanger, wire coat
1903
Albert J. Parkhouse
US
helicopter
1939
Igor Sikorsky
Russia/US
holography
1948
Dennis Gabor
Hungary
hypodermic syringe
1853
Charles Gabriel Pravaz
France
in vitro fertilization (IVF), human
1978
Patrick Steptoe, Robert Edwards
UK
ink
c. 2500 BC
Egypt, China
insulin, extraction and preparation of
1921
Sir Frederick Grant Banting, Charles H. Best
Canada
integrated circuit
1958
Jack S. Kilby
US
Internet
1969
Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) at the Dept. of Defense
US
iron, electric
1882
Henry W. Seely
US
irradiation, food
1905
US/UK
jeans
1873
Levi Strauss, Jacob Davis
US
JELL-O (gelatin dessert)
1897
Pearle B. Wait
US
jukebox
1889
Louis Glass
US
Kevlar
1965
Stephanie Kwolek
US
Kool-Aid (fruit drink mix)
1927
Edwin E. Perkins
US
laser
1958
Gordon Gould and Charles Hard Townes, Arthur L. Schawlow (invented separately)
US
laundromat
1934
J.F. Cantrell
US
lawn mower, gasoline-powered
c. 1940
Leonard Goodall
US
Lego
late 1940s
Ole Kirk Christiansen
Denmark
light bulb, incandescent
1879
Thomas Alva Edison
US




light-emitting diode (LED)
1962
Nick Holonyak, Jr.
US
/





liquid crystal display (LCD)
1963
George Heilmeier
US
lock and key
c. 2000 BC
Assyrians
Mesopotamia
locomotive
1829
George Stephenson
England
longbow
c. 1000
Wales
loudspeaker
1924
Chester W. Rice, Edward W. Kellogg
US












metric system of measurement
1795
French Academy of Sciences
France




microscope, compound optical
c. 1600
Hans & Zacharias Jansen
The Netherlands




microwave oven
1945
Percy L. Spencer
US
















money, paper
late 900s
China




Morse code
1838
Samuel F.B. Morse
US
motor, electric
1834
Thomas Davenport
US
motor, outboard
1907
Ole Evinrude
Norway/US








Muzak
1922
George Owen Squier
US
nail, construction
c. 3300 BC
Sumerians
Mesopotamia




neon lighting
1910
Georges Claude
France
nuclear reactor
1942
Enrico Fermi
US








oil well
1859
Edwin Laurentine Drake
US
pacemaker, cardiac
1952
Paul M. Zoll
US
paper
c. 105
Ts'ai Lun
China
paper clip
1899
Johan Vaaler
Norway
paper towel
1931
Arthur Scott
US
parachute, modern
1797
André-Jacques Garnerin
France
parking meter
1932
Carl C. Magee
US
particle accelerator
1929
Sir John Douglas Cockcroft, Ernest Thomas Sinton Walton
Ireland/UK
pasteurization
1864
Louis Pasteur
France
pen, ballpoint
1938
Lazlo Biro
Hungary
pencil
1565
Conrad Gesner
Switzerland
periodic table
1871
Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleyev
Russia
personal watercraft, motorized
1968
Bombardier, Inc.
Canada
petroleum jelly
1870s
Robert Chesebrough
US
phonograph
1877
Thomas Alva Edison
US
photocopying (xerography)
1937
Chester F. Carlson
US
photography
1837
Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre
France
photography, instant
1947
Edwin Herbert Land
US
Play-Doh
1956
Noah W. & Joseph S. McVicker
US
plow, steel
1836
John Deere
US
pocket watch
c. 1500
Peter Henlein
Germany
polyethylene
1935
Eric Fawcett, Reginald Gibson
UK
polygraph (lie detector)
1921
John A. Larson
US
polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
1872
Eugen Baumann
Germany
Post-it Notes
mid-1970s
Arthur Fry (3M)
US
potato chips
1853
George Crum
US
printing press, movable type
c. 1450
Johannes Gutenberg
Germany
Prozac
1972
Ray W. Fuller, Bryan B. Molloy, David T. Wong
US
radar
c. 1904
Christian Hülsmeyer
Germany
radio
1896
Guglielmo Marconi
Italy
radio, car
early 1920s
William P. Lear
US
rayon
1884
Louis-Marie-Hilaire Bernigaud, count of Chardonnet
France
razor, electric
1928
Jacob Schick
US
razor, safety
c. 1900
King Camp Gillette
US
reaper, mechanical
1831
Cyrus Hall McCormick
US
record, long-playing (LP)
1948
Peter Carl Goldmark
US
refrigerator
1842
John Gorrie
US
remote control, television
1950
Robert Adler
US
respirator
c. 1955
Forrest M. Bird
US
revolver
1835–36
Samuel Colt
US
Richter scale
1935
Charles Francis Richter, Beno Gutenberg
US
rifle, assault
1944
Hugo Schmeisser
Germany
roller coaster
1884
LeMarcus A. Thompson
US
rubber, vulcanized
1839
Charles Goodyear
US
rubber band
1845
Stephen Perry
UK
saccharin
1879
Ira Remsen, Constantin Fahlberg
US, Germany
saddle
c. 200 BC
China
safety pin
1849
Walter Hunt
US
satellite, successful artificial earth
1957
Sergey Korolyov, et al.
USSR
satellite, communications
1960
John Robinson Pierce
US
saxophone
1846
Antoine-Joseph Sax
Belgium
Scotch tape
1930
Richard Drew (3M)
US
scuba gear
1943
Jacques Cousteau, Émile Gagnan
France
seat belt, automotive shoulder
1959
Nils Bohlin (Volvo)
Sweden
sewing machine
1841
Barthélemy Thimonnier
France
shoelaces
1790
England
silicone
1904
Frederic Stanley Kipping
UK
skateboard
1958
Bill & Mark Richards
US
skates, ice
1000 BC
Scandinavia
skates, roller
1760s
Joseph Merlin
Belgium
ski, snow
c. 2000–3000 BC
Sweden, Finland, Norway
skyscraper, steel-frame
1884
William Le Baron Jenney
US
slot machine
1890s
Charles Fey
US
snowmobile
1922
Joseph-Armand Bombardier
Canada
soap
600 BC
Phoenicians
Lebanon
soft drinks, carbonated
1772
Joseph Priestley
UK
sonar
1915
Paul Langevin
France
stamps, postage
1840
Sir Rowland Hill
UK
stapler
1866
George W. McGill
US
steamboat, successful
1807
Robert Fulton
US
steel, mass-production
1856
Henry Bessemer
UK
steel, stainless
1914
Harry Brearley
UK
stereo, personal
1979
Sony Corp.
Japan
stereophonic sound recording
1931
Alan Dower Blumlein
UK
stethoscope
1819
René-Théophile-Hyacinthe Laënnec
France
stock ticker
1867
Edward A. Calahan
US
stove, electric
1896
William Hadaway
US
stove, gas
1826
James Sharp
UK
straw, drinking
1888
Marvin Stone
US
submarine
1620
Cornelis Drebbel
The Netherlands
sunglasses
1752
James Ayscough
UK
sunscreen
1944
Benjamin Green
US
supermarket
1930
Michael Cullen
US
synthesizer, music
1955
Harry Olson, Herbert Belar
US
synthetic skin
1981
Ioannis V. Yannas, John F. Burke
US
tampon, cotton
1931
Earle Cleveland Haas
US
tank, military
1915
Admiralty Landships Committee
UK
tea bag
early 1900s
Thomas Sullivan
US
teddy bear
1902
Morris Michtom
US
Teflon
1938
Roy Plunkett
US
telegraph
1832–35
Samuel F.B. Morse
US
telephone, wired-line
1876
Alexander Graham Bell
Scotland/US
telephone, mobile
1946
Bell Laboratories
US
telescope, optical
1608
Hans Lippershey
The Netherlands
television
1923, 1927
Vladimir Kosma Zworykin, Philo Taylor Farnsworth
Russia/US, US
thermometer
1592
Galileo
Italy
thermostat
1830
Andrew Ure
UK
threshing machine
1778
Andrew Meikle
Scotland
tire, pneumatic
1888
John Boyd Dunlop
UK
tissue, disposable facial
1924
Kimberly-Clark Co.
US
tissue, toilet
1857
Joseph Gayetty
US
toaster, electric
1893
Crompton Co.
UK
toilet, flush
c. 1591
Sir John Harington
England
toothbrush
1498
China
tractor
1892
John Froehlich
US
traffic lights, automatic
1923
Garrett A. Morgan
US
transistor
1947
John Bardeen, Walter H. Brattain, William B. Shockley
US
typewriter
1868
Christopher Latham Sholes
US
ultrasound imaging, obstetric
1958
Ian Donald
UK
vaccination
1796
Edward Jenner
England
vacuum cleaner, electric
1901
Herbert Cecil Booth
UK
Velcro
1948
George de Mestral
Switzerland
vending machine
c. 100–200 BC
Egypt
Viagra
1997
Pfizer Inc.
US
video games
1972
Nolan Bushnell
US
videocassette recorder
1969
Sony Corp.
Japan
videotape
1950s
Charles Ginsburg
US
virtual reality
1989
Jaron Lanier
US
vision correction, laser
1987
Stephen Trokel
US
washing machine, electric
1907
Alva J. Fisher
US
wheel
about 3500 BC
proto-Aryan people or Sumerians
Russia/Kazakhstan or Mesopotamia
wheelbarrow
1st century BC
China
wheelchair
1590s
Spain
windmill
644
Persia
wine
before 4000 BC
Middle East
World Wide Web
1989
Tim Berners-Lee
UK
wristwatch, digital
1970
John M. Bergey
US
X-ray imaging
1895
Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen
Germany
Zamboni (ice resurfacing machine)
1949
Frank J. Zamboni
US
zipper
1893
Whitcomb L. Judson
US