Happy birthday to the late Steve Jobs! As a culture, we often take technology for granted and forget the painstaking years that inventors spend creating the machines we use every day. For example, you have Charles Babbage to thank, among others, for your ability to view this text on your computer. In honor of the late Steve Jobs’ birthday on February 24th, Questia, the premier online research tool for students has compiled a list of the top 10 inventors being researched in the Questia library.
To celebrate these inventors’ contributions to our society and Steve Jobs’ legacy, we’ve selected reference works from our library of 77,000 academic books and 4 million journal articles and are opening them up for free for a month. In addition to the 10 listed below, you might want to take a look at our full list of computer and Internet research.
- Thomas Edison – Born in 1847 in Ohio, Thomas Edison is celebrated for inventing both the electric light and the phonograph—two inventions that changed the world. In his forties, Edison began development of the motion picture devices, the kinetograph and kinetoscope, and formed the company General Electric. [Adair, Gene. Thomas Alva Edison: Inventing the Electric Age. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Questia. Web.]
- Alexander Graham Bell – Alexander Graham Bell changed the world by inventing the telephone in 1876 when he was 29 years old. Bell’s invention allowed people to directly communicate with others outside their immediate physical presence for the first time in history. [Haven, Kendall. 100 Greatest Science Inventions of All Time. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2006. Questia. Web.]
- Johann Gutenberg – Born in the late 1300s, Johann Gutenberg is known as the father of printing. His familiarity with blacksmith and goldsmith crafts impacted the design and success of his invention—mechanical movable type printing—which began the printing revolution. [Scholderer, Victor. Johann Gutenberg: The Inventor of Printing. London: Trustees of the British Museum, 1963. Questia. Web.]
- Karl Benz – Born in 1844, Karl Benz was the founder of Mercedes-Benz and is widely regarded as the inventor of the gasoline-powered automobile. His German patent, “D.R. Patent 37,435,” was granted on January 29, 1886—a date generally considered as the birthday of the first automobile. [Smil, Vaclav. Creating the Twentieth Century: Technical Innovations of 1867-1914 and Their Lasting Impact. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Questia. Web.]
- Orville and Wilbur Wright – The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were credited on December 17, 1903 with the first successful airplane flight with a “heavier-than-air” machine powered by a gasoline motor. [Bates, Ralph S. Scientific Societies in the United States. New York: The Technology Press Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1945. Questia. Web.]
- Charles Babbage – Born in London, England on December 26, 1791, Charles Babbage is praised as the inventor of the first computer. He is also credited with designing the first speedometer, devising the first-class mail system and calculating the first reliable mortality tables for the insurance industry. [Franceschetti, Donald R., ed. Biographical Encyclopedia of Mathematicians. Vol. 1. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1999. Questia. Web.]
- Alessandro Volta –Italian physicist Alessandro Volta was born on February 18, 1745 in Como, Italy. He discovered a source of continuous electric current from a pile of dissimilar metals: a column of zinc and silver discs separated by paper that has been moistened with brine to provide a simple source of continuous current. The unit of electrical pressure, the volt, is named after Volta. [Day, Lance, and Ian McNeil, eds. Biographical Dictionary of the History of Technology. London: Routledge, 1998. Questia. Web.]
- Tim Berners-Lee – While working at the European Particle Physics Laboratory at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, Oxford graduate Tim Berners-Lee was credited with creating the World Wide Web. His proposal, HyperText and CERN, was written in 1989, and his files were first made available to the public on August 6, 1991. [Little, Jeffrey B., and Lucien Rhodes. Understanding Wall Street. 4th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004. Questia. Web.]
- James Watt – James Watt is renowned for perfecting the steam engine and lends his name to the unit of power, the watt. Although he did not directly invent it, he is commonly known to have started the development of the modern steam engine. [Pupin, Michael. From Immigrant to Inventor. New York: Scribner's sons, 1923. Questia. Web.]
- Philo Farnsworth – Philo Farnsworth invented the basic components in the electronic television, successfully transmitting television images electronically in 1927 at the age of 21. He formed Television, Inc. in 1929, and publicly displayed his invention for the first time at the Franklin Institute in 1934. [Haven, Kendall, and Donna Clark. 100 Most Popular Scientists for Young Adults: Biographical Sketches and Professional Paths. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1999. Questia. Web.]