The Five Greatest Inventors

Here is a list of the five greatest inventors.

George Westinghouse

While Thomas Edison receives most of the credit, George Westinghouse’s contributions were arguably almost as good. His electrical system used alternating current and was based on the work of Nikola Tesla, and prevailed over Edison’s direct current system, which led to the power grid of today. Westinghouse, however, was no one-hit wonder. Before besting Edison with his AC power system, he devised the railway air brake, which considerably improve the safety of U.S. railways. Like Edison, he had the urge to experiment, and toyed with a perpetual motion machine. It did not work, possibly because that would break the laws of physics. He amassed 361 patents.

Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell is surely in the top five for the effect he had on people’s lives. The telephone resulted from work he carried out for deaf people, but he also invented devices to find hidden treasure (the metal detector), detect minor hearing problems, and locate icebergs. He also became involved with eugenics, worked on early airplanes, and built hydrofoils. He was one of the founders of the National Geographic Foundation in 1888, so he had a hand in that magazine lying near you right now.

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison was the most prolific inventor of modern times, with more than a thousand patents to his name. He invented the motion picture camera, the phonograph, and the light bulb. He is not number one because many of his more well-known inventions were developed by design teams working for him, so he was responsible for their development rather than their actual inventor. He also had the unpleasant habit of reneging on contracts and claiming credit for the work of others. While he was not personally responsible for all that emerged from his shop at Menlo Park and his ethics were questionable, he deserves a place in the top five.

Nikola Tesla

Although Nikola Tesla was little-known while he lived, he is now acknowledged as brilliant and probably was more responsible for commercial electricity than any other man who ever lived. His theoretical work laid the foundations for modern electrical power systems, including the AC motor which was behind the Second Industrial Revolution. Now, he is best known for his work on electromagnetism. He also made a contribution to theoretical physics, nuclear physics, ballistics, computer science, radar, and remote control. You will see people on the internet saying that he developed death rays, teleportation, and anti-gravity, however this is rather harder to prove.

Archimedes of Syracuse

Number one on any list of the greatest inventors must be Archimedes of Syracuse. He was one of the greatest mathematicians ever, came close to calculating the exact value of pi and worked out how to calculate the area beneath the arc of a parabola. He invented a variety of impressive siege weapons and possibly a device which set ships on fire using mirrors which focused sunlight onto their sails. He is the first on the list of the five greatest inventors because he accomplished all that he did more than 2,000 years ago with not a computer in sight.