The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention & Innovation
Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, Smithsonian Beanie Illustration
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Invention stories:
archives, articles, audio, and video

A subject guide to contemporary and historical inventors and inventions featured on the Lemelson Center and National Museum of American History Archives Center websites.
Above: A bright idea with a new twist--the compact fluorescent light bulb.

When you click on the links below, you will open a new browser window. To return to this page, close that window. To search for an inventor by name, use your browser's "find" command.

ARC = Archives collection finding aid
ART = Article
AV = Audio/video clips
OVH = Oral/video history collection finding aid

 

African American
  inventors

Agriculture
Air & space
Architecture &
  construction

Art
Assistive technology
Business
Chemistry
Computers
Electric light & power
Electron microscopy
Electronics
Environment

Food
Icons of invention
Industry &
  manufacturing

Materials science
Medicine & health
Military
Music
Nobel Prize
Personal care
Pets
Photography & film
Physics
Plastics

Professional societies
Radio
Robotics
Sound Recording
Sports
Surveying
Telegraph
Telephone
Textiles & clothing
Timekeeping
Toys
Transportation
Women inventors

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African American inventors

Patricia Bath, inventor of the LaserPhaco laser eye surgery device

ARC
ART
OVH

  George Carruthers, inventor of the far-ultraviolet camera ART
OVH
  David Gittens, inventor of the Ikenga 5302 gyroplane ART
OVH
Marjorie Stewart Joyner, inventor of the permanent waving machine for hair ART
Lewis Latimer, inventor of improved light bulb filaments ART
  James McLurkin, inventor of robotic ants ART1
ART2
ART3
AV
OVH
Garrett Morgan, gas mask and traffic signal inventor ART

Hildreth (Hal) Walker, inventor of laser devices and electromobiles (1995)

ART1
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OVH

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Agriculture

Barbed wire fencing ART

Everett H. Bickley, who invented a seed sorting machine

ARC
ART

Richard Adlard, who worked on drip system irrigation methods

ARC

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Air & space

  George Carruthers, inventor of the far-ultraviolet camera ART
OVH

Corona spy camera

OVH

Draper Family, pioneers in astronomical photography

ARC

  David Gittens, inventor of the Ikenga 5302 gyroplane ART
OVH
  Paul MacCready, human-powered flying machine inventor ART1
ART2
ART3
OVH
  Ellen Ochoa, NASA astronaut, scientist, and inventor in the field of optical processing

ART
OVH

  Video history interviews documenting the development of space satellite manufacture at GE and RCA OVH
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Architecture & construction

  Andrew G. Butler, inventor of the SmartLevel, an electronic builder's level, and founder of Wedge Innovations ARC
ART
OVH
Santiago Calatrava, artist, sculptor, engineer, and architect ART
Douglas Cardinal, innovative architect ART

Cass Gilbert, an American architect known for his commercial and public buildings, including the Woolworth Building in New York City

ARC

  Subhendu Guha, inventor of flexible solar roofing shingles ART
OVH
  Chuck Hoberman, inventor of expandable domes and spheres ART1
ART2
AV1
AV2
OVH
  Holton Duncan Robinson, engineer and inventor of suspension bridge cable design and construction ARC
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Art
  Arthur Ganson, kinetic sculptor and inventor of toys ART
AV1
AV2
  Artist Jules Olitski and paint manufacturer Mark Golden talk about the invention of new pigments

ART
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OVH

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Assistive technology

Mike Augspurger, inventor of an all-terrain handcycle

ART1
ART2
OVH

Matt Capozzi and Nathan Connolly, who invented an accessible snowboard for people with a lower body disability

ARC
ART

Jose Hernandez-Rebollar, inventor of the AcceleGlove that translates the alphabet and sign language into audible speech ARC
Krysta Morlan, waterbike inventor ART
Van Phillips, inventor of the Flex-Foot and other prosthetic feet ARC
ART

Lon Safko, inventor of voice recognition software for the disabled

ARC

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Business
  Clinton B. Alexander, who patented inventions for businesses and record keeping, including a plumb adjuster, paper puncher, tape splice, and loose leaf binder. ARC
  Lamson cash carrier video documentation of this mechanical means for moving cash, sales slips, and change, by way of overhead wires, between the sales clerks and the cashier ART
OVH
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Chemistry

Art Fry, Post-It® inventor ART

Harold Kroto, chemist and Nobel laureate who discovered the carbon structures called buckminsterfullerenes

ARC
ART
AV1
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OVH

  Stephanie Kwolek, inventor of Kevlar® ART1
ART2
OVH
  Patsy Sherman, inventor of Scotchgard®

ART1
ART2
OVH

Henry Wurtz, a chemist and editor who contributed to both the theory and practice of chemistry

ARC

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Computers

Ralph H. Baer, inventor of the home video game

ARC

Computer Oral History Collection, audio interviews with people instrumental to the development of computing

ARC

Grace Murray Hopper, who invented the compiler, a machine language critical to the development of computing

ARC

Gordon Goldstein, a computer engineer who worked on the UNIVAC 1 ARC

Herb Grosch, an astronomer and early computer professional

ARC

  Thomas Massie, inventor of a tactile interface for computers ART1
ART2
OVH
  Microelectronics oral history interviews with pioneers in the field of microelectronics OVH
  John Clifford Shaw, who developed one of the earliest list processing languages and an early interactive time-sharing program ARC
  Linus Torvalds, Linux computer operating system founder ART
  West Coast Computer Faire, an annual computer fair first held in 1977. ARC
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Electric light & power

Anders K. Bak, a Danish mechanical engineer and employee of the Detroit Edison Power Company ARC

Saul Dushman, director of the Research Division of the Edison Lamp Works

ARC

Thomas Edison, inventor of the phonograph, incandescent light bulb, and more ARC
ART1

ART2
ART3
AV1

William J. Hammer, a consulting electrical engineer who worked with Thomas Edison on the incandescent light

ARC

Lewis Latimer, inventor of improved light bulb filaments ART

Kenneth M. Swezey, a writer and collector of materials about electrical inventor Nikola Tesla

ARC

Roman Szpur, high-efficiency wind turbine inventor ART

Elihu Thomson, a scientist, inventor, and electrical manufacturer of arc lighting, electric welding, and electrical manufacturing

ARC

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Electron microscopy

Rubin Borasky, a scientist who documented the history of electron microscopy

ARC

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Electronics

Pierre Curie, who was the first to observe the phenomenon of piezoelectricity

ART

Nick Holonyak Jr., who demonstrated the first visible-light-emitting diode ART
Jack Kilby, co-inventor of the integrated circuit ART
Otto Lehmann, who, with Friedrich Reinitzer, discovered liquid crystals ART
Robert Noyce, co-inventor of the integrated circuit ART
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Environment

  Subhendu Guha, inventor of flexible solar roofing shingles ART
OVH

United States Fish Commission, which carried out the first sustained study of marine biology in the United States

ARC

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Food

Aladdin Industries Inc., inventor of the thermos bottle ARC

Eskimo Pie Corp., makers of America's first chocolate covered ice cream bar, invented by Christian Kent Nelson

ARC

Joseph B. Friedman, inventor of the flexible drinking straw ARC
ART
Nordic Ware, creators of the Bundt Pan and Micro-Go-Round ARC

Charlotte Cramer Sachs, an inventor of food and household products

ARC

Percy Spencer, microwave intentor ART
A. (Arthur) Bernie Wood, an advertising designer and inventor involved in the restaurant franchise industry, including McDonald’s ARC
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Icons of invention

Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone ART
Thomas Edison, inventor of the phonograph, incandescent light bulb, and more ART1
ART2
ART3
AV1
Benjamin Franklin and the interplay between technology and democracy, discussed by author Walter Isaacson AV1
AV2
AV3
Samuel Morse, inventor of the electromagnetic telegraph ART
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Industry & manufacturing

Felix P. ("Phil") Caruthers, an engineer who developed machines and systems for automated machine tools

ARC

Robert G. Chamberlain, one of the first numerical control programmers in the United States

ARC

Robert Scofield Condon, a mechanical engineer who invented pencil lead pointers, pencil sharpeners, milling machines, gear cutting machines, and other devices

ARC

Charles Eisler, who invented machinery for producing electric lamps, television and radio tubes, welding equipment, and laboratory equipment ARC
  Edwin R. Fellows, founder of the Fellows Gear Shaper Co., a leader in precision gear production in the first half of the 20th century. ARC
  H. Joseph Gerber, who invented the computer-controlled fabric cutter and other computer-controlled manufacturing equipment ARC
OVH
  IDEO, innovative product design team ART
  Nathan Kane, inventor of low-distortion bellow folds ART
OVH

Max Kronenberg, a research engineer who specialized in developing techniques for the machining of metals

ARC

  Marvin Mundel, an expert in the fields of industrial engineering and time and motion studies ARC
  Sendzimir steel mill video documenting the first "Z" mill for cold rolling stainless steel in the United States, invented by Tadeusz Sendzimir OVH

Orla E. Watson, who invented the telescoping shopping cart

ARC

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Materials science

Orlan W. Boston, an engineer who studied the physical and chemical properties of metals

ARC

Elmer Gates, an independent American inventor and psychologist who developed inventions in metallurgy, electricity, microscopy, X-rays, and pedagogy. ARC

Nicholas C. Mandragos, a structural engineer and lecturer on photo elasticity

ARC

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Medicine & health

Emile Bachelet, inventor of medical apparatus and rail transportation systems that used magnetic waves ARC

Patricia Bath, inventor of the LaserPhaco laser eye surgery device

ARC
ART
OVH

John C. Boyd, a U.S. Navy surgeon and honorary curator of medicine at the Smithsonian (1891-1892)

ARC

Charles F. Brannock, who invented the familiar Brannock foot-measuring device

ARC
ART

  Curt I. Civin, pediatric oncologist and stem cell researcher OVH
  Gertrude Elion, Nobel laureate and inventor of targeted drugs ART
AV1
AV2
  Ashok Gadgil, inventor of UV Waterworks water purifier ART1
ART2
AV1
AV2
OVH
  Wilson Greatbatch, inventor of the implantable cardiac pacemaker ART1
ART2
AV
OVH
  Robert Jarvik, inventor of artificial hearts AV1
  Robert Ledley, inventor of a whole-body diagnostic imaging system ARC
  Akhil Madhani, inventor of a robotic cardiac surgery instrument ART1
ART2
OVH
  Moore-Stein protein sequencer video documentation of the sequencer, invented by Stanford Moore and William Stein, that enabled automatic analysis of protein structure OVH

William T.G. Morton, a discoverer of the anesthetic properties of ether

ARC

Henry Roger, inventor of the Lifwynn Eye-Movement Camera

ARC

Sharon Rogone, who invents devices to help care for premature babies ARC
AV1
AV2

Milton K. Wirtz, a pioneer in plastic eye prosthesis

ARC

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Military

Corona spy camera

OVH

  Quartermaster Corps video documentation of the inventive research and development work of the Quartermasters ART
OVH
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Music

Analog music synthesizer oral history collection, documenting the pioneering engineers and musicians of the electronic music synthesizer from 1960 to 1970

OVH

David Baker, music director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, talks about sound and color AV
George Beauchamp, who, working with Adolph Rickenbacker, produced an electromagnetic pickup for the first commercially viable electric guitar ART
Country musician Junior Brown, who created the "guit-steel" by combining a Spanish-style electric guitar and a lap-steel guitar ART
John Dopyera, who designed a steel-body guitar with banjo-type resonator-amplifiers built into the top ART

Electric guitar video documentation on the cultural significance of the electric guitar as instrument, technology, and symbol

ARC
ART1
ART2
OVH

Leo Fender, the first manufacturer to mass-produce Spanish-style solid-body electric guitars ART
John Hendricks, inventor of the jazz style known as "Vocalese" AV
Lloyd Loar, who developed an electrostatic pickup that sensed vibrations in the soundboard of stringed instruments ART
C.F. Martin, whose innovations in guitar construction and design led to a new American tradition of flattop guitar making ART
Ted McCarty, who designed the Gibson Les Paul, the Flying V, and the Explorer guitars, and patented numerous pickup devices ART
Les Paul, an innovator in solid-body electric guitars and inventor of recording techniques such as sound-on-sound ART
Adolph Rickenbacker, who, working with George Beauchamp, produced an electromagnetic pickup for the first commercially viable electric guitar ART
Floyd Rose, who improved solid-body guitar tremolo systems ART
Paul Reed Smith, innovative electric guitar maker ART1
ART2
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Nobel Prize

  Gertrude Elion, Nobel laureate and inventor of targeted drugs ART
AV1
AV2

Harold Kroto, chemist and Nobel laureate who discovered the carbon structures called buckminsterfullerenes

ARC
ART
AV1
AV2
OVH

Interviews with 33 Nobel laureates

ARC
OVH

William Phillips, Nobel laureate in physics

ARC
ART
AV1
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OVH

  Charles Townes, Nobel laureate and inventor of the maser ART
OVH
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Personal care

Marion O'Brien Donovan, the "grandmother of the disposable diaper"

ARC
ART

Marjorie Stewart Joyner, inventor of the permanent waving machine for hair ART

Nathaniel Mathis, an innovative hairstylist, entrepreneur, inventor, and community activist

ARC

Ann Moore, inventor of the Snugli baby carrier ART1
ART2
AV
Lydia O'Leary, Covermark® cosmetics inventor ART
John George Vasquez, inventor of personal items, including an ash tray, a multiple compartment handbag, and a magnetic retainer ARC
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Pets
Ruth Foster, coinventor of the Gentle Leader® dog collar ART
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Photography & film

Draper Family, pioneers in astronomical photography

ARC

Henry Roger, inventor of the Lifwynn Eye-Movement Camera

ARC

Stan Winston, special effects artist and robot inventor

AV1
AV2

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Physics

Louis Alvarez, inventor of a “bubble chamber” that made tiny particles inside an atom’s nucleus visible ART
F. C. Brown, a physicist and inventor who created and supervised the development of education exhibits ARC

William Phillips, Nobel laureate in physics

ARC
ART
AV1
AV2
OVH

Ednor Rowe, who created "Tantalus," the first dedicated synchrotron radiation laboratory and source

ARC
ART
OVH

The Superconducting Super Collider, a particle accelerator that, if built, would have been the world's most expensive instrument for basic science ARC
Serge Scherbatskoy, a petroleum geophysical engineer who held more than 200 patents worldwide in petroleum exploration ARC
  Charles Townes, Nobel laureate and inventor of the maser ART
OVH

Hildreth (Hal) Walker, inventor of laser devices and electromobiles (1995)

ART1
ART2
OVH

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Plastics

Celluloid Corp., the original plastics manufacturer

ARC

J. Harry DuBois, an industrial consultant in the field of petrochemicals and plastics

ARC

Earl S. Tupper, inventor of Tupperware

ARC

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Professional societies

Society for the History of Technology, organized in 1958 to encourage the study of the development of technology and its relations with society and culture

ARC

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Radio

George H. Clark, a radio engineer who documented the first 50 years of radio's history

ARC

Edmund A. Laport, a director of broadcast engineering for RCA

ARC

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Robotics
  Akhil Madhani, inventor of a robotic cardiac surgery instrument ART1
ART2
OVH
  James McLurkin, inventor of robotic ants ART1
ART2
ART3
AV
OVH
Tom Newby, inventor of animatronics for the Muppets AV
Sebastian Thrun, head of the team that designed Minerva, the Robot Tour Guide ART

Stan Winston, special effects artist and robot inventor

AV1
AV2

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Sound recording

S. Joseph Begun, a pioneer in magnetic recording ARC

Charles Sumner Tainter, who invented the graphophone, a commercially practical dictating machine

ARC

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Sports

Matt Capozzi and Nathan Connolly, who invented an accessible snowboard for people with a lower body disability

ARC
ART

Albany Billiard Ball Co., makers of celluloid billiard balls

ARC

Mike Augspurger, inventor of an all-terrain handcycle

ART1
ART2
OVH

John Bucheimer, manager of new product manufacturing at Head Ski Co. ARC

S. Newman Darby, who invented windsurfing

ARC
ART1
ART2
OVH

Arthur Ehrat, who invented a breakaway basketball rim

ARC

John Fabel, Ecotrek™ backpack inventor ART

Howard Head, who invented the first metal laminate skis and tennis rackets with enlarged "sweet spots"

ARC
ART

Leonard Karr, an avid fisherman and hunter who designed decoys, pit covers, a stake hole punch, and a kayak

ARC

Sherman Poppen, inventor of the "snurfer," the predecessor of the snowboard ARC
Michael Zane, an entrepreneur who purchased the "Kryptonite" bicycle lock design and trade name, and developed the Kryptonite Corporation. ARC
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Surveying
  Robert Studebaker, inventor of the LaserPlane, an alternative to the liquid level OVH
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Telegraph

Anglo-American Telegraph Co., Ltd., which laid and operated the first successful transatlantic telegraphic cable

ARC

Samuel Morse, inventor of the electromagnetic telegraph ART

Western Union Collection, documenting the evolution of the telegraph and the development of the Western Union Telegraph Co.

ARC

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Telephone
Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone ART
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Textiles & clothing
Henry Booth, who invented the PhotoMetriC custom tailoring system ARC
H. Irving Crane, inventor of synthetic fibers ARC
George de Mestral, inventor of Velcro ART

Du Pont Nylon Collection, documenting the introduction of this synthetic fiber

ARC

  Sally Fox, innovator of naturally colored cotton ART1
ART2
  H. Joseph Gerber, who invented the computer-controlled fabric cutter and other computer-controlled manufacturing equipment ARC
OVH
  Stephanie Kwolek, inventor of Kevlar® ART1
ART2
OVH
  Patsy Sherman, inventor of Scotchgard® ART1
ART2
OVH
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Timekeeping
National Company (NATCO) Atomic Clocks Records, documenting the development of the first commercial atomic clocks ARC
John Bergey, who headed the team that produced the first electronic digital watch ART
Robert Biard, who, with Gary Pittman, invented the infrared light-emitting diode ART

Richard F. Bond clock escapement video, documenting a succession of clock escapements invented by Bond in the 19th century

OVH

  Walter Guyton Cady, who developed the first quartz crystal resonator ART
  Centre Electronique Horloger, which developed the first quartz watches in Switzerland ART
  Pierre Curie, who was the first to observe the phenomenon of piezoelectricity ART
  James Fergason, who developed the liquid crystal display that became standard in quartz watches ART
  Max Forrer, who headed the Centre Electronique Horloger (CEH) Circuits Section, the part of the laboratory that developed the first Swiss quartz watch prototypes ART
  Armin Frei, who investigated using a miniaturized quartz crystal as a time standard for wristwatches ART
  Hamilton Watch Company, which produced the first commercially-available digital quartz watch ART
  George Heilmeier, who headed the team that invented the first practical liquid crystal displays ART
  Jean Hermann, who, with technician François Niklès, developed a stepping micromotor to turn quartz watch hands ART
  Max Hetzel, who invented the Accutron, the first tuning fork watch ART
  Nick Holonyak Jr., who demonstrated the first visible-light-emitting diode ART
  Kurt Hübner, who set up a complete microelectronics laboratory at the Centre Electronique Horloger (CEH) to fabricate low power integrated circuits for quartz watches ART
  Jack Kilby, co-inventor of the integrated circuit ART
  Otto Lehmann, who, with Friedrich Reinitzer, discovered liquid crystals ART
  Rolf Lochinger, who designed circuits quartz watches ART
  Nunzio Luce, who headed the team that developed the first LCD digital quartz watch ART
  Harold Lyons, a physicist whose primary interest was in atomic frequency standards and atomic clocks ARC
  Warren Marrison, who developed the first quartz clock ART
  François Niklès, who, with Jean Hermann, developed a micromotor to turn quartz watch hands ART
  Robert Noyce, co-inventor of the integrated circuit ART
  Henri Oguey, who developed a vibrating micromotor to turn quartz watch hands ART
  George Washington Pierce, who developed designs for quartz oscillator circuits ART
  Gary Pittman, who, with Robert Biard, invented the infrared light-emitting diode ART
  Quartz watch oral history interviews with individuals crucial to the invention of the quartz watch ART
OVH
  Friedrich Reinitzer, who, with Otto Lehmann, discovered liquid crystals ART
  Seiko, the company that made the first commercially-available quartz analog watch ART
  Juergen Staudte, who invented a method for mass-producing quartz crystal oscillators ART
  Eric Vittoz, who demonstrated the use of quartz as a time base in a small clock ART
  Roger Wellinger, the first director of the Centre Electronique Horloger (CEH), who committed the lab to work with the new technology of integrated circuits ART
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Toys

Ralph H. Baer, inventor of the home video game

ARC

Binney & Smith Inc., manufacturer of Crayola wax crayons, chalk, ink, paint, pigments, and Silly Putty

ARC

  Donald Duncan and Pedro Flores, who popularized the yo-yo ART
  Arthur Ganson, kinetic sculptor and inventor of toys ART
AV1
AV2
  Joseph Pedott, creator of the Chia Pet and the Clapper ARC
  Janese Swanson, inventor of technology toys for girls ART
OVH
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Transportation

Charles Adler, Jr., inventor of an electric automotive brake

ARC

Emile Bachelet, inventor of medical apparatus and rail transportation systems that used magnetic waves ARC

Containerization oral history collection, documenting the development of containerized shipping

OVH

Jerry Hirshberg, founder of Nissan Design International ART
Garrett Morgan, gas mask and traffic signal inventor ART

Hildreth (Hal) Walker, inventor of laser devices and electromobiles (1995)

ART1
ART2
OVH

George Eli Whitney, an engineer and inventor who developed many applications of steam power, including bicycles, cars, and boats

ARC

William E. Woodard, an inventor of locomotive equipment

ARC

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Women inventors

Patricia Bath, inventor of the LaserPhaco laser eye surgery device

ARC
ART
OVH

  Gertrude Elion, Nobel laureate and inventor of targeted drugs ART
AV1
AV2
Exploring the History of Women Inventors ART
Marjorie Stewart Joyner, inventor of the permanent waving machine for hair ART
  Stephanie Kwolek, inventor of Kevlar® ART1
ART2
OVH
Ann Moore, inventor of the Snugli baby carrier ART1
ART2
AV
Krysta Morlan, waterbike inventor ART
  Ellen Ochoa, NASA astronaut, scientist, and inventor in the field of optical processing

ART
OVH

Lydia O'Leary, Covermark® cosmetics inventor ART
Sharon Rogone, who invents devices to help care for premature babies

ARC
AV1
AV2

Charlotte Cramer Sachs, an inventor of food and household products

ARC

  Patsy Sherman, inventor of Scotchgard® ART
OVH
  Janese Swanson, inventor of technology toys for girls ART
OVH
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Last Update: 19 Nov 2013

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