Famous Inventors

Famous inventors are few and far between. Most people know about famous inventions but there are only a handful of well-know famous inventors. In this section we'll examine famous inventors and their amazing ideas.

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The light bulb literally brightened the whole world and Thomas Edison generally gets the credit for inventing it. But did he?

By Dylan Ris & Yara Simón

The 20th century would have been very different without the contributions of General Foods chemist William A. Mitchell, who tapped into the American appetite for convenience and novelty.

By Laurie L. Dove

There's a lot of controversy surrounding the two one-time work colleagues turned bitter rivals. Find out more with our quiz.

By Nathan Chandler


A Rube Goldberg machine is intentionally designed to perform a simple task in the most indirect and circuitous fashion possible. Meet the funny man behind these one-of-a-kind contraptions.

By Stell Simonton

Ever since the very first Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1901, the famous honor and its honorees (like Aung San Suu Kyi) have gotten rabble rousers all fired up. What's so ironic about peace, love and understanding?

By Nicholas Gerbis

Well before becoming the 16th president of the United States, the young Abraham Lincoln was known for his interest in engineering and mechanics. What patent does Lincoln hold, and was his invention ever made?

By Cherise Threewitt

Between running a print shop, engineering the U.S. postal system, and helping sow the seeds of the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin also found time to draw up a vast collection of new devices. What are some of his most enduring inventions?

By John Fuller


Nikola Tesla was a pretty cool guy. Companies and rock bands have been named for him, and he pops up in Hollywood movies regularly. Not bad for one of history's greatest inventors. But what did he do to earn his fame? Here are some of Tesla's standout inventions.

By Kristen Hall-Geisler

Albert Einstein was one of history's greatest thinkers. Although he isn't really known as an inventor, his ideas formed the basis for some of the greatest inventions ever devised. Here are a few of the man's most revolutionary discoveries.

By Marie Willsey

Few famous Americans enjoy a status as mythic as that of George Washington Carver, a man whose life as a botanist, agronomist, chemist and inventor earned him a lasting legacy. Carver's work is considered instrumental in changing Southern approaches to agriculture.

By Mark Boyer

With more than a thousand patents for inventions ranging from light bulbs to cement, Thomas Edison was one of the world's most prolific tinkerers. What did Edison dream up?

By Gerlinda Grimes


Almost 300 years after his death, Sir Isaac Newton remains one of the most influential thinkers in history. What are some of his most enduring inventions?

By Robert Lamb & Tristin Hopper

Most of us know Eli Whitney as the inventor of the cotton gin, but many of his inventions helped transform America. So what other inventions led to his fame, and how have they shaped U.S. history?

By Nicholas Gerbis

Galileo was a man known for having his head in the clouds. But what down-to-earth creations is he responsible for? You might be surprised by the breadth of his influence.

By Thomas Moore

Many popular phrases have entered the American lexicon in a variety of ways, but few as quickly -- or as mysteriously -- as "the real McCoy." Was there a real McCoy? Where did this phrase come from, anyway?

By Stephanie Watson


You may not know who George Westinghouse is, but you know his name. It's adorned everything from televisions to light bulbs. Young science buffs may have entered the competition that once bore his name. Here are five of Westinghouse's inventions.

By Jamie Page Deaton

What were you doing at age 16? Blaise Pascal, a precocious 17th century French teenager, had already come up with his very own theorem. Some of Pascal's ideas even made it to the casino floor. How did this polymath affect your world?

By Nicholas Gerbis

He had patents and pigeons galore. His role in history books could be more. So come ye science fans, and read up on your Tesla facts, myths and lore.

By Nicholas Gerbis

Although many still remember Nikola Tesla, his name doesn't carry the weight it once did during his famous battles with Thomas Edison. What was this eccentric genius like?

By John Kelly


Hedy Lamarr's twin passions were acting and inventing. During World War II, she came up with a secret communication system that paved the way for technology like WiFi and GPS. But for decades, people thought this was an urban legend.

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

Louis Pasteur was arguably the world's best-known microbiologist, credited with developing germ theory, the process of pasteurization and the rabies and anthrax vaccines. So why was he never awarded the Nobel Prize?

By Rodney E. Rohde