True Inventors

Who Should be Credited

There are many cases where the True Inventors – the original Pioneers were taken advantage of underhandedly, and the credit reaped by someone else.

From the steam engine to television, there have been numerous cases where an inventor’s groundbreaking technical work has been taken advantage of. As a result the historical prestige getting piled on another’s plate—especially when time comes to give credit for important advances in human civilization.

In many such cases, important breakthroughs made by lesser-known individuals simply went unnoticed. Here are some of those cases.



10. Anesthesia


Anesthesia - Crawford Long but credited to William Morton. Many deserve credit for the discovery of modern anaesthesia techniques. Sir Humphry Davy, first suggested that nitrous oxide had analgesic properties that could be employed during surgical procedures. William Edward Clarke was the first person to use ether as a general anaesthetic during dental extraction. William Thomas Green Morton was the first to publicly demonstrate the effectiveness of ether for general surgery in 1846.

However, American physician and pharmacist, Crawford Williamson Long, first used inhaled sulfuric ether during general surgery for dental extraction in 1842. But Dr. Long neglected to publicize his findings until 1849, thereby denying himself much of the credit he deserved.


9. Outboard Motor


Outboard Motor—Cameron Waterman but credited to Ole Evinrude. The name Evinrude is synonymous with outboard motors. Norwegian, Ole Evinrude’s formed a practical boat motor in 1906, and continued to improve his design. In 1910, Evinrude applied for a patent on his outboard engine. But he is not actually the father of the outboard motor.

In 1905, Cameron B. Waterman, an engineering student at Yale, applied for a patent on his 'boat-propelling' device, and built it from a Curtis motorcycle engine. He developed both the first air-cooled and water-cooled outboard motor designs, and granted patent in 1907.


8. Zipper


Zipper - Whitcomb Judson but credited to Otto Sundback. American machine salesman, Whitcomb Judson was also a mechanical engineer and inventor. In the 1890’s, Judson invented the zipper out of metal, with two sides of teeth and a little handle making it easier to zipper up in a factory in Chicago.

But, it was Swedish-born, Gideon Otto Sundback who helped make the zipper popular as it is today. Sundback applied for a patent for his invention of a 'Separable Fastener' under the name “Hookless No. 2” in 1914, which was duly granted on 20 March, 1917. Sundback’s work would not have been possible if the prototype hadn’t been created 20 years earlier.


7. Ballpoint Pen


Ballpoint Pen - John Loud but credited to Laszlo Biro. Many inventors tried to improve the ink-and-quill pen before Laszlo Biro received a patent for his working design in 1945. The patented roller-ball tip marking pen was invented by American tanner, John J. Loud, in 1888.

Loud’s invention featured a reservoir of ink and a roller ball that applied the thick ink to leather hide, but the pen was never produced. Nearly fifty years after Loud’s patent, an improved version was invented in Hungary by Ladislas Biro and his brother, Georg in 1935.


6. Calculating Machine


Calculating Machine - Wilhelm Schickard but credited to Blaise Pascal. In 1644, French mathematician, Blaise Pascal designed the Pascaline, which is viewed to be the first calculator. However, it was not actually the first of its kind. An even more versatile device referred to as the 'calculating clock', was developed two decades earlier by Wilhelm Schickard, a German professor of Hebrew and Astronomy.


5. Flush Toilet


Flush Toilet - Alexander Cumming but credited to Thomas Crapper. The widespread legend is that, the flush toilet was created by Sir Thomas Crapper, but this is untrue. In fact the first flushing working toilet closet was created in 1596, for Queen Elizabeth I, by her godson, Sir John Harington. Ahead of its time, Sir John's invention was ridiculed by by his peers, so he never built another one, though he and Queen Elizabeth I, both used theirs.

Although Sir John Harington's creation was rejected by the public at large, he is honoured every time we say 'we have to go to the Johns.' But it wasn't until 1775, that a patent for a flushing toilet was issued to Alexander Cummings, who reinvent Harington’s water closet. This was 60 years before Thomas Crapper was born.


4. Movable Printing Press


Movable Printing Press - Bi Sheng but credited to Johannes Gutenberg. There is a common misconception that in 1450 Johannes Gutenberg created the first movable type with his invention of the printing press. However, this is untrue, as the Chinese figured it out way before we thought of it!

A man by the name of Bi Sheng created the first movable type system using ceramic materials for printing around 1040.A.D. during the Song dynasty.


3. Electric Chair


Electric Chair - Alfred Southwick but credited to Thomas Edison. In 1890, the electric chair was first used in the USA to execute wife-killer, William Kemmler. The chair had been built by employees of Thomas Edison, who was against the death penalty but believed the chair was more humane than hanging.

However, New York dentist and inventor, Alfred P. Southwick is credited with inventing the first electric chair as a method of legal execution.


2. Animated Feature With Sound


Animated Feature With Sound - Paul Terry but credited to Walt Disney. The 1928 Walt Disney short, 'Steamboat Willie' is widely regarded as the first animated film that featured a synchronized sound track and to introduce the public to Mickey Mouse.

However, it was not the first animated talkie. Paul Terry made his first animation film, 'Little Herman,' which he completed and sold to the Thanhouser film company of New Rochelle, New York in 1915.


1. Lightbulb


Lightbulb - Joseph Swan but credited to Thomas Edison. Thomas Edison was credited as the sole Inventor of the lightbulb, but this is untrue as many contributed to it prior. It was the British inventor, Joseph Swan who turned the technology from a dim dream to an illuminator of entire cities. Joseph Swan patented it 10 years earlier.

In 1800, Italian inventor Alessandro Volta developed the first practical method of generating electricity. In 1809, English chemist Humphry Davy connected two wires to a battery, inserted a charcoal strip between the other ends of the wires and produced the first electric lamp.

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