Top 10 Famous Inventors

Script written by Sean Harris They say great minds think alike… But only the greatest minds make today's list! Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Famous Inventors! For this list, we've looked at those inventors that have had the most important, most popular, most definitive effect upon the modern world. We're interested in those responsible for the inventions without which modern life would be very different! Special thanks to our user Oakley.24 for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.com
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Top 10 Famous Inventors


They say great minds think alike… But only the greatest minds make today's list! Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Famous Inventors!

For this list, we’ve looked at those inventors that have had the most important, most popular, most definitive effect upon the modern world. We’re interested in those responsible for the inventions without which modern life would be very different!

#10: Guglielmo Marconi
1874 – 1937

He was not the first person experimenting with wireless technology, but Marconi can be credited with turning the idea of radio waves into a commercial, practical reality. Marconi remodeled wireless apparatus throughout his early career, lengthening the distance between which messages could be sent and received. Best known for being the first person to successfully send a transatlantic message, Marconi’s radio was also crucial in monitoring the 1912 sinking of the Titanic, and saving at least some survivors!

#9: James Watt
1736 - 1819

A steam power pioneer, James Watts’ work became a foundation for the Industrial Revolution which swept across the UK and the U.S. in the 18th and 19th centuries, and eventually reached the entire planet. When Watt was a young man, the Newcomen engine was used by most major factories… But he realized that that system was wasting large amounts of energy… Cue endless experimentation, until eventually Watt developed an efficient method for continuous rotary motion, and unprecedented power. A ‘rise of the machines’ magnificently followed!

#8: Benjamin Franklin
1706 - 1790

A Founding Father of the United States, Benjamin Franklin was a master of many trades! Inventing-wise, his efforts were widespread, but his most famous experiment centered around his casting a kite into a lightning storm, drawing electrical charge, and subsequently developing the ‘lightning rod’ as a means of ensuring safety in tall buildings. Other inventions that can be attributed to Franklin include a glass harmonica, bifocal eyeglasses, and a urinary catheter with added flexibility… As we said, ‘his efforts were widespread’!

#7: The Wright Brothers: Orville & Wilbur
1871 - 1948; 1867 - 1912

Orville and Wilbur Wright are probably the most important names in the history of aviation, and heavier-than-air flight. In the very early 1900s, inventors across America and the world were racing to develop a reliable and practical machine in which human beings could controllably fly; the Wright Brothers won that race! Their invention of a three-axis control, enabled multi-dimensional movement on a fixed-wing aircraft, far outstripping any innovation of their peers. From there, the sky really was the limit!

#6: John Logie Baird
1888 - 1946

One of many great minds associated with the development of television, John Logie Baird seemed always prominent when the most significant advances were made. Many historians credit him with being the first to produce a live, moving, greyscale TV image… And he’s also noted as the man behind the first publicly demonstrated color TV system, transmitted on July 3rd, 1928. A similar figure to Marconi in radio, Baird also worked to lengthen the distances between which TV could be broadcast, leading the way for the international applications that it has today!

#5: Archimedes
c. 287 BC - c. 212 BC

Of course, inventors were inventing things in ancient times as well, and none more so than Archimedes! The brains behind the self-titled, and still widely used ‘Archimedes Screw’ – a device enabling efficient pumping of water – the Ancient Greek engineer is probably best remembered as a mathematician. The most famous Archimedes anecdote involves his creating a method to measure the volume of an irregularly shaped object. Upon working it out in the bath, he ran down the street naked shouting ‘Eureka!’ – which is now the unofficial catchphrase of inventorseverywhere!

#4: Leonardo da Vinci
1452 - 1519

Another indisputable genius, Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions are often overlooked, or at least overshadowed, because of his legendary artwork… But da Vinci was more than just the “Mona Lisa”! In fact, many of his ideas were so advanced; they weren’t physically possible for hundreds of years after his death… Within his designs, a ‘helicopter’, a calculator, and even suggestions of solar power! His technical and anatomical drawing was also largely unrivalled! He was more than ‘outside of the box’; he was intellectually adrift from the entire human race!

#3: Nikola Tesla
1856 - 1943

The archetypal ‘mad scientist’, throughout much of the twentieth century Nikola Tesla’s work went a little underappreciated… But, in recent times, efforts have been made to better preserve his story, and the impact he had on electrical engineering especially! Tesla was most taken with the idea of wireless technology, and he’s best known for his work on alternating current electricity… The enduring images are those of him sitting and studying within highly charged laboratories, cleverer and crazier than almost anybody else that ever lived!

#2: Alexander Graham Bell
1847 - 1922

The telephone is one of the cornerstone inventions of modern existence, and Alexander Graham Bell was the man who made it possible! Starting out his professional life by working with the deaf and hard of hearing, Bell harbored a lifelong fascination with sound and speech. He first began working on the telephone in the early 1870s, and the first successful bi-directional transmission of clear speech was conducted on March 10th 1876… When Bell called his colleague to say, ‘Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.’

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- Johannes Gutenberg
c. 1398 - 1468
- Samuel Morse
1791 - 1872
- Alfred Nobel
1833 - 1896
- Galileo Galilei
1564 -1642
- Hero of Alexandria
c. 10 - c. 70 AD

#1: Thomas Edison
1847 - 1931

The holder of an incredible 1,093 US patents, Thomas Edison was an extreme inventor! A real rags-to-riches story, he’s probably best known for his ultimate, and original, ‘light bulb moment’! Edison worked to install his electric light into towns and cities across the globe, demonstrating a knack for big business as well! The phonograph was also his creation, the alkaline storage battery, he screened early motion pictures, and he even drew up ideas for an electric car! If Edison thought about it, he did it… And he usually did it well!

Do you agree with our list? Who is your favorite famous inventor? For more pioneering top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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