Here is a list of ten wonderful inventors. In no particular order, because they're all pretty fantastic in their own way.


10 – William Addis – Toothbrush


Though it may not seem like an amazing invention, the toothbrush is part of our daily lives, a morning ritual and cleaning aid. Before toothbrushes, people were using salt and chalk on rough rags. (I’m feeling pretty grateful to Addis right now!) Brushing our teeth and keeping a good dental hygiene routine reduces our risk of very serious conditions, some you'd never expect, like heart disease, stroke and other major ailments.


9 – Edwin Land – The Polaroid Camera


American scientist Edwin Land who released the first commercial instant camera called the Land Camera in 1948 unveiled the instant Camera. Land, best known as the co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation, a successful company that grew with a strong reputation and still continues to grow under new ownership after declaring bankruptcy in 2001. The Polaroid instant camera (a personal favorite of mine) is somewhat of a cult retro item now and has made a bit of a comeback through various companies and designs.


8 – Whitcomb Judson – Zipper


This is an invention we see in daily life, in fact, chances are that you’ve probably used one today or are wearing something with one on.

The precursor to the modern zipper that Judson invented in 1890 was the chain-lock fastener. In his day, the zipper was called a ‘clasp-locker’; in fact the zipper didn’t come into existence until many years after his death. The original clasp-locker was a complicated hook and eye fastening, which came with a ‘guide’ for opening and closing it.


Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 10.01.14.png

7 – Mary Anderson – Windscreen Wipers


Here is something we see on every mode of transport now, but at the time of invention, no one was even interested!

Hard to believe now as we probably take the windscreen wiper for granted, after all, when it rains or snows, we just wipe it away without a second thought from the comfort of the warm, dry inside of our vehicles. In the early 1900’s, people were clearing their windscreens by sticking their hand out of the window and wiping the snow and sleet off. (Fun? I think not). It was Anderson’s vision to create a long spring-loaded arm with a rubber blade, which would be controllable from the inside by turning a handle. Her invention was not appreciated until the 1940’s/50’s when car safety was a priority, this is when her patent lapsed and others were able to copy her idea.


6 – Igor Sikorsky – Helicopter


Sikorsky, a Russian-American aeronautical engineer is responsible for the design of the ‘Flying clipper’ aircraft and was the major developer of the helicopter. Although he is not the person who invented the Helicopter first, he is the inventor of the first successful helicopter, upon which further designs evolved.


5 – Willem Kolff – Artificial Kidney


We have this man to thank for the artificial Kidney! His pioneering work into circulation and dialysis led to the development of the Hemodialysis machine that is now in regular use worldwide. Kolff is regarded an important pioneer in artificial organ research through his later study and development of Heart lung machines, artificial hearts and artificial eyes.


4 – Les Paul – Electric Guitar


Where would we be without music? In our homes, cars, public spaces, we are surrounded by music. Lester William Polsfuss, better known as Les Paul made Rock music possible. Being one of the pioneers of the solid–body electric guitar, we have a lot to thank Les Paul for in the history of music. Les Paul is also credited with the invention of Multi track recording innovations, after talking with Bing Crosby who suggested Paul try building his own recording studio, he set to work on his own studio in his garage. In 1949 Crosby gave Paul one of the first Ampex Model 200A reel-to-reel audio tape recording decks, which led Paul on to working with Ampex to create the eight track multitrack recording machines.


3 – Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen – X-Ray machine


On the 8th of November 1895, Röntgen produced and detected electromagnetic radiation in a wavelength, commonly known now as X-rays. For his discoveries, he received the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901, the monetary reward; he donated to the University of Würzburg. His wife, Anna Bertha was his first test subject, on seeing her skeleton in an X-ray; she exclaimed, “I have seen my death.”


2 – Alec Jeffreys – DNA fingerprinting


In 1984, Jeffreys a British geneticist developed techniques for DNA fingerprinting and DNA profiling. This was a breakthrough for forensic sciences and is now used worldwide to assist police detective work since solving countless crimes. DNA fingerprinting, or Genetic profiling as it is also known, is also used for immigration disputes and paternity tests.


 1 – Edward Jenner – Vaccination

Age 14, Jenner was apprenticed to a local surgeon, after continuing his training in London, he returned to his childhood home of Berkeley and spent most of his career as a Doctor. It was 1796 when Jenner first performed his now famous experiment on eight-year-old James Phipps.

After hearing an old folklore tale about milkmaids who had contracted cowpox never contracted smallpox, Jenner began to think about how this tied together. Jenner took pus from a cowpox pustule and inserted it into an incision in the eight-year-olds arm.  Phipps developed a fever, but shortly returned to good health. Jenner then infected him with Smallpox. The boy remained healthy.

In modern times, we now have vaccinations for so many things, it is routine to be inoculate newborn babies, kittens, puppies and other animals. Thanks Jenner!

Written by

Katherine Thomson