This section contains information, facts, and worksheets on famous inventors through history.
The human mind is a remarkable thing capable of computing billions of pieces of information in the blink of an eye. Combine that with an insatiable appetite for truth and understanding, an unfettered curiosity about how the world works, and a passion for problem-solving, and you have the common elements of the great inventors who have changed the world through the centuries.
In the last 400 years, knowledge and innovation has grown exponentially and arguably one of the biggest catalysts was Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press in c.1440. This humble machine changed the way knowledge was gathered, shared and preserved, making it accessible to anyone that could read.
With knowledge of individuals now being preserved and shared in books, ideas could proliferate and theories explored. Isaac Newton (1643-1727) changed the course of astronomy, mathematics and physics through his recorded studies and he’s recognized as one of the most influential scientists of all time.
With each leap in innovation, new paths of progress revealed themselves, whether it was technologically, medicinally or scientifically. Take Benjamin Franklin (1705-1790). This extraordinary polymath discovered electricity, which, although mysterious at the time, ushered in a new age of energy production.
Thomas Edison (1847-1931), who in his lifetime filed over 1 000 patents, then built on Franklin’s innovations and created the first electric light bulb, the motion picture camera and the phonograph. It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to understand how these three things alone changed our world.
The late 19th and early 20th centuries were a golden age of innovation, and another notable inventor of the time was Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), whose invention of the telephone fundamentally altered the way in which we communicate. It’s thanks to him that it doesn’t matter where on Earth you are, you’re just a phone call away. Today, telecommunications has exploded with smartphones, satellite communication and even the Internet had its humble beginnings on telephone lines.
Then there were the Wright brothers, whose quest to fly like the birds saw them build and fly the first powered aircraft in 1903. Today, aircraft can fly at supersonic speeds, carry hundreds of passengers around the world, and can even go into space.
But the quest for knowledge and understanding can come at great cost to those who pursue it. Marie Curie (1867-1934) was an early 20th century physicist who pioneered our study of radioactivity. Her research was at great cost to her health and eventually took her life, but her work is invaluable to our continued technological and medicinal advancement.
Without the courage to explore things that could be dangerous, however, people would still be at the mercy of nature. Thanks to the work of medicinal inventors like Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), we now have vaccinations against once-lethal ailments, and food is safer because of pasteurization.
For all the amazing innovations and advancements that have been made in the last few centuries, we’re only getting started and the future is very exciting. Learn more about these inventors and more in this section.