Inspirational inventors


Inventor, revolutionary and one of the founding fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin is credited as the inventor of a number of contraptions, such as the lightning rod, harnessing electricity from storms, and the Franklin stove. He also proposed a number of theories to harness the power of nature, including a thesis on kites being used to pull ships across waterways. He never patented his inventions, as he believed everybody should be able to enjoy them.

493px-Isaac_Newton,_English_School,_1715-20Isaac Newton was the inventor of the world’s first reflecting telescope. Newton had studied and lectured on the optical theories behind the reflecting telescope for a number of years before finally inventing one, and used his creation to prove that white light was made up of a spectrum of colours. The main advantage of the Newtonian telescope was that it gave a clearer picture since it did not suffer from the chromatic aberration problem of the refracting designs available at the time.


Thomas Edison revolutionsed communication in 1877 when he invented the carbon microphone, which allowed one person to hear another through a telephone. The invention was essential in radio broadcasting and saw widespread application in telephones until the 1980s. He also delivered power to thousands of American homes using his direct current distribution system transferring electricity from power generators to homes, although this was superseded by Tesla’s alternating current system.

This is an extract from issue seven of All About History. To subscribe to the magazine click here now.