In honor of August’s National Inventors Month, we’ve granted access to reference works on five of history’s most famous american inventors for free for an entire month.
- Thomas Edison: Born in Milan, Ohio in 1847, Edison is undoubtedly one of the most influential inventors of all time. Perhaps one of his most notable inventions was the light bulb. Edison is also known for inventing the phonograph and various motion picture devices, including the kinetograph and kinetoscope. “Edison was both a millionaire and one of the best-known men alive. Still in his 30s, he had launched an industry that would, over the next several decades, spread its lights throughout the country and the world” (Adair 98). [Adair, Gene. Thomas Alva Edison: Inventing the Electric Age. New York: Oxford UP, 1996. Questia. Web.]
- Alexander Graham Bell: Alexander Graham Bell’s invention, the telephone, is another one of the most widely used inventions of all time. “When the telephone was first invented, few thought it would be useful, yet by the end of the century almost every household in the United States had some form of telephone service” (McMaster 1). The telephone was first introduced at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876 and became the hit of the entire event. From there, the telephone took many forms and evolved into the essential communication tool that we use today. [Mcmaster, Susan E. The Telecommunications Industry. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2002. Questia. Web.]
- Orville and Wilbur Wright: This dynamic brother duo was among the first to truly take flight. “They fabricated their wings by cutting basic shapes from sheet steel. These could be bent to give the desired curve of an airfoil” (Heppenheimer 147). In the end, it was one equation that made all the difference, L= k S V² Cι. After various trials with different modifications, the Wright brothers achieved a 12-second flight in 1903, which was the first of its kind. [Heppenheimer, T. A. First Flight: The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Airplane. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2003. Questia. Web.]
- Philo Farnsworth: Originating from very humble roots, Farnsworth is the mastermind behind the television. In 1927, “Farnsworth chose the simplest of images. He painted a glass slide black with a straight white line down its center. There was a compelling logic to his choice of image for this test.” (Horvitz 104). This is the first image that was ever broadcast on what we now refer to as “television”. [Horvitz, Leslie Alan. Eureka! : Stories of Scientific Discovery. New York: Wiley, 2002. Questia. Web]
- Jonas Salk: This inventor managed to eliminate one of the most frightening public health problems in the United States: polio. After attending medical school, Salk and his wife moved to Michigan so he could complete research work on a vaccine that would kill the influenza virus. After his time at the University of Michigan, he accepted a research position at the University of Pittsburgh. “Salk would receive a generous multiyear grant from the foundation. His medical school would be reimbursed for all the indirect costs it incurred, such as maintenance, utilities, and insurance” (Oshinsky 116). In 1955, the polio vaccine was deemed safe for use and has virtually eliminated that disease that plagued people across the globe. [Oshinsky, David M. Polio: An American Story. New York: Oxford UP, 2005. Questia. Web.]
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