More than six million patents have been granted to American inventors, since 1790, by the US Patent Office. With the impetus of the American industrial revolution fueling it even further, there was a dramatic increase in the number of patents issued in the 19th century.
In fact, the middle to the latter half of the 19th century was regarded as the golden age of American inventors and their inventions, with stalwarts like Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell exemplifying it.
The technological breakthroughs made by them, from the light bulb to the computers that are so ubiquitous today, have improved the lives of people all over the world. Of course, there are many American inventors, and their numbers continue to grow, with each of them, along with their invention, impacting the society in unique ways. Here are a few of them.
Samuel F. B. Morse
He was born on the 27th of April 1791 and died on the 2nd of April 1872. It was in 1832 that he got the idea of an electromagnetic telegraph, and subsequently constructed a prototype in 1835.
However, it was in 1844, that he actually made a workable system, when he constructed a line from Baltimore to Washington D.C. He applied for a patent, which was granted in 1849, wherein it is described as a system of marking dots and dashes on paper.
In the next 10 years, 23,000 miles of telegraph wires crisscrossed all over the country. Morse's invention had a profound effect in the development of the West, making travel by railroad much safer, along with enabling businessmen to carry out their business in a more profitable manner.
In fact, the version he created in 1880, had practically all the features of the modern light bulb, including an incandescent filament in an evacuated and transparent glass bulb, along with a base that could be screwed on to a holder.
He is also credited for inventing the phonograph and the fluoroscope, which is an X-ray machine that has a source of X-ray along with a fluorescent screen, which enables direct observation. He died on the 18th of October, 1931.
Alexander Graham Bell
He was born on the 3rd of March 1857, and died on the 2nd of August 1922. He was one of the most eminent American inventors. It was in the early part of the 1870s, while he was experimenting with the telegraph, when Alexander Graham Bell realized that perhaps the human voice could be transmitted through a wire, with the help of electricity.
In fact, he had made a transmission by the month of March, in 1876. However, the sound that was carried was very faint.
He continued working on it, and on the 26th of November, he demonstrated that sound could be transmitted clearly, during a critical test, between Cambridge and Salem, in Massachusetts. The instrument functioned as a transmitter as well as a receiver.
The Wright Brothers
Orville Wright, who was born on the 19th of August 1871 and died on the 30th of January, and Wilbur Wright, born on the 16th of April 1867 and died on the 30th of May 1912, are credited with inventing the airplane, as well as making the first controlled and powered human flight, which they demonstrated on the 17th of December 1903.
Within two years of that first flight, they developed their flying aircraft into a fixed wing airplane, the first of its kind.
Vladimir Kozmich Zworykin
Born on the 30th of July 1889, he was a Russian born American inventor who pioneered television technology. He was the inventor of a television system that transmitted and received signals using cathode ray tubes.
He was partly instrumental in the development of television from the early part of the 1930s, which included charge storage type of tubes, infrared image tubes, as well as the electron microscope. Many biographers have named him the real inventor of television, although others dispute it. He died on the 29th of July 1982.
Raymond Samuel Tomlinson
Born in 1941, he graduated from MIT. He is one of the pioneering figures of the Internet, since he worked on ARPANET, which was the precursor of the Internet. His greatest gift to society was an email system, which he devised in 1971, thus fostering the global communication system of today.