20 American Inventions That Changed the World

Updated on October 25, 2018

From the mundane to the truly spectacular, numerous American inventions have changed the world. Here is a list of 20 things invented by Americans that have become part of everyday lives here and around the world.

Top 20 Famous American Inventions

  1. Ferris wheels
  2. Chocolate chip cookies
  3. Dental floss
  4. Clasp lockers
  5. Hearing aids
  6. Cardiac defibrillators
  7. Radiocarbon dating
  8. Traffic lights
  9. Crash test dummies
  10. Microwave ovens
  11. Assembly lines
  12. Lasers
  13. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs)
  14. Global Positioning System (GPS)
  15. Chemotherapy
  16. Video games
  17. Email
  18. Mobile phones
  19. Personal computers
  20. The internet

Ferris wheels are a quintessential feature of American amusement parks.
Ferris wheels are a quintessential feature of American amusement parks. | Source

1. Ferris Wheels

Who invented them?

  • George Washington Gale Ferris (1859–1896)

When were they invented?

  • 1893

Why are they significant?

  • The Ferris wheel was the American response to the Eiffel Tower in France. Imitations of Ferris' original wheel have since become a staple of fairs and amusement parks.

A visit to a theme park or a carnival is never complete without a ride on a Ferris wheel. It is a popular attraction that features an upright rotating wheel with capsules for passengers and is named after George Washington Gale Ferris, who debuted the first Ferris wheel as the landmark of the Chicago World Fair on June 21, 1893.

The Ferris wheel was the United States' answer to the French Eiffel Tower—one of many marvelous proposals intended to inspire wonder and awe in American hearts. Ferris spent thousands from his own pocket to ensure top-notch safety testing and engineering would produce the perfect wheel. The original wheel had 36 cars and was 250 feet in diameter.

After the wheel's debut, Ferris faced multiple lawsuits and debts related to its construction. He died several years later and, after his death, the wheel was destroyed. However, numerous reincarnations of the wheel have been fashioned, and they continue to be a staple of American theme parks and fairs to this day.

Chocolate chip cookies are a true American dessert staple.
Chocolate chip cookies are a true American dessert staple. | Source

2. Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who invented them?

  • Ruth Graves Wakefield (1903–1977)

When were they invented?

  • 1930

Where are they significant?

  • Chocolate chip cookies have become a classic staple in the American dessert repertoire.

Since childhood, most of us have carved out a special place for delightful and delicious cookies. Most likely at the top of our list of favorites is the classic chocolate chip cookie.

A tasty treat made from flour, butter, brown sugar, and semi-sweet chocolate bits, it was made by accident in 1930 by Ruth Graves Wakefield at the Toll House Inn, a restaurant she owned with her husband that served home cooking in Whitman, Massachusetts.

In the famous story, Ruth ran out of the baker's chocolate she needed for her recipe, and instead substituted with a semi-sweet Nestle chocolate bar. Ruth predicted the chocolate bar would melt as the baker's chocolate did, but instead the morsels only softened, and the chocolate chip cookie was born.

Ruth's chocolate chip cookies gained popularity, increasing the sales of Mr. Andrew Nestle's chocolate bars. She eventually sold him the recipe with the caveat that the Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe be printed on the back of the Nestle chocolate bar package. Nestle still prints the recipe on their chocolate bars to this day.

Do you ever promise your dentist you'll floss more often? You're not alone. But thanks to the genius of Dr. Levi Spear Parmly, we now know that we definitely should floss more often—and we have the ability to do so.
Do you ever promise your dentist you'll floss more often? You're not alone. But thanks to the genius of Dr. Levi Spear Parmly, we now know that we definitely should floss more often—and we have the ability to do so. | Source

3. Dental Floss

Who invented it?

  • Levi Spear Parmly (1790–1859)

When was it invented?

  • 1815

Why is it significant?

  • Modern dentists understand that flossing is essential to preventing periodontal disease and tooth decay.

A vital part of the daily hygiene, flossing completes the brushing routine we use to take care of our pearly whites. Long before we had knowledge of dental plaque and bacteria, Levi Spear Parmly recognized the importance of removing foreign material on the teeth for preventing tooth decay.

Dental floss was introduced in 1815 by Parmly, a dentist from New Orleans. It was originally made from silk, unlike today’s dental floss, which is made of nylon or plastic.

Parmly had one of the most successful dental practices in the South and published several books intended to help laymen understand the importance of oral hygiene.

Clasp lockers and, subsequently, zippers, play an important role maintaining the practicality of modern-day fashion.
Clasp lockers and, subsequently, zippers, play an important role maintaining the practicality of modern-day fashion. | Source

4. Clasp Lockers

Who invented them?

  • Whitcomb L. Judson (1846–1909)

When were they invented?

  • 1890

Why are they significant?

  • Zippers make life much easier for people working in extreme weather conditions and those with limited mobility.

If you find buttons quite a fuss as you dress up for work, then you have Chicago-based inventor Whitcomb L. Judson to thank for inventing the clasp locker, the zipper’s predecessor, which was introduced in 1893.

The first clasp locker design was used as a shoe fastener, which was thought to be an invention designed to simplify the complex process of buttoning the boots that were in fashion toward the end of the 19th century.

Although Judson obtained many patents related to the clasp locker during his lifetime, he never truly saw the commercial success that the zipper would achieve.

The modern design was made by Gideon Sundbäck, the head designer of the Universal Fastener Company launched by Judson, in 1913.

Did You Know?

The clasp locker and the Ferris wheel were introduced at the same Chicago World's Fair in 1893.

Hearing aids help to amplify sounds for those who are hard of hearing, giving them the opportunity to live a safer and more robust lifestyle.
Hearing aids help to amplify sounds for those who are hard of hearing, giving them the opportunity to live a safer and more robust lifestyle. | Source

5. Hearing Aids

Who invented them?

  • Miller Reese Hutchison (1876–1944)

When were they invented?

  • 1902

Why are they significant?

  • The hearing aid is an invaluable device for people who have hearing loss, whether from birth defects or other circumstances. In addition, the technology used to invent the hearing aid was later applied to other devices, such as those used for eavesdropping and the dictograph (the first version of a hands-free intercom system).

The first electronic hearing aid was invented in 1902 by Miller Reese Hutchinson, an inventor from Alabama.

Around 1895, Hutchison invented what he called the "akouphone," an electrical hearing aid. Although he wasn't a doctor, he did take classes at the Medical College of Alabama in order to gain a better understanding of the anatomy of the human ear. Hutchison developed an interest in the subject due to a childhood friend who was deaf.

The original "akouphone" was quite bulky and impractical, and, in 1902, Hutchison invented another version called the "Acousticon." By 1905, he had relinquished the rights of his invention to Kelley Monroe Turner, who would continue to expand and improve the technology, and eventually apply it to other inventions.

Countless heartbeats have been normalized and lives saved thanks to the invention of cardiac defibrillators.
Countless heartbeats have been normalized and lives saved thanks to the invention of cardiac defibrillators.

6. Cardiac Defibrillators

Who invented them?

  • William B. Kouwenhoven (1886–1975)

When were they invented?

  • 1930

Why are they significant?

  • Defibrillators have saved countless lives by delivering a jolt of electricity to reestablish a normal cardiac rhythm.

"Clear!" We have become familiar with the hospital emergency room scene where a doctor holds defibrillator paddles to the chest of a patient while urgently motioning a nurse to hit the switch. Defibrillators deliver a large dose of electrical energy to a heart affected with arrhythmia, ventricular fibrillation, and tachycardia.

William B. Kouwenhoven developed an academic interest in the relationship between electricity and medicine when, in the early 20th century, it became apparent that utility linemen suffered from ventricular fibrillation (rapid, unstable heartbeat) and nobody knew why.

Between 1928 and 1947, Kouwenhoven and his research team at Johns Hopkins University studied the effects of electricity on the human body. In 1933, the team successfully prevented ventricular fibrillation in a dog's heart by jolting it with electricity.

Defibrillators were first successfully used on humans by Dr. Claude Beck in 1947; they were initially used during open chest operations only. In 1957, Kouwenhoven and his team revealed their first prototype, and by 1961, they introduced the first portable defibrillator.

Did You Know?

Aside from his invention of cardiac defibrillators, William Kouwenhoven was also known as the "father of CPR" due to his development of the closed-chest cardiac massage technique.

Radiocarbon dating is a key element in scientists' ability to study the history of the natural world.
Radiocarbon dating is a key element in scientists' ability to study the history of the natural world.

7. Radiocarbon Dating

Who invented it?

  • Willard Libby (1908–1980)

When was it invented?

  • 1949

Why is it significant?

  • Radiocarbon dating has enabled scientists to know more about life on Earth, even before civilizations were formed. It has continued to have significant implications for historians, archaeologists, geologists, and scientists around the world.

The technique to determine the age of artifacts from archaeological expeditions is called radiocarbon dating (or carbon dating). This was developed by Willard Libby, who calculated the half-life of carbon-14 at the University of Chicago in 1949.

Libby realized that this certain type of carbon (carbon-14) is incorporated into the bodies of living things and, when they die, the carbon decays at a predictable rate, which can be determined by a mathematical formula.

This allows scientists to determine how long ago biological samples stopped collecting carbon-14, and, based on the rate of decay, approximately when they died.

Traffic lights are an indispensable tool in maintaining road safety.
Traffic lights are an indispensable tool in maintaining road safety. | Source

8. Traffic Lights

Who invented them?

  • Lester Wire (1887–1958)

When were they invented?

  • 1912

Why are they significant?

  • Traffic lights have vastly improved pedestrian and driver safety on the roads of the United States and around the world.

Managing the traffic of pedestrians and vehicles at intersections would be nearly impossible without the help of the traffic light. The modern electric traffic light as we know it today was invented in 1912 by Lester Wire, a policeman from Salt Lake City. It was originally just red and green for stop and go, respectively.

Prior to the invention of the traffic light, policemen were forced to direct traffic themselves. The traffic light wasn't automated until 1924, and until then had to be operated manually.

An early version of the traffic light was introduced in London in 1868; however, it was declared a public health hazard after a police officer was badly injured while operating it, and the project was immediately stopped.

Wire never patented the traffic light, and James Hoge is usually credited with its invention. Hoge received a patent for the first electric traffic signal in 1918. William Ghiglieri obtained the patent to the first traffic signal with red and green lights in 1917.

Over the years, many inventors have patented newer, improved versions of the traffic light. However, Wire is generally believed to be the first American to invent the traffic light as we know it today.

Crash test dummies have allowed aviation and auto manufacturers to greatly improve safety features.
Crash test dummies have allowed aviation and auto manufacturers to greatly improve safety features.

9. Crash Test Dummies

Who invented them?

  • Samuel W. Alderson (1914–2005)

When were they invented?

  • 1949

Why are they significant?

  • Crash test dummies are used by vehicle designers and government agencies to test the effectiveness of safety features. Cars and aircraft wouldn't have the safety standards they do today without the extensive testing for which crash test dummies have provided.

The first crash test dummy was developed in 1949 by Samuel W. Alderson, an inventor from California. He graduated from high school at the age of 15, after which he attended several colleges and intermittently worked for his family's sheet-metal business.

During World War II, he designed electric motors for missile guidance systems. He later worked for IBM, where he designed a motorized prosthetic arm. A pioneer in biomechanics, he eventually started his own company where he began to design the first crash test dummy.

Information from research on animals and human cadavers was used to design the crash test dummy, introduced in 1949, which was initially used to test aviation safety. Today, descendants of these crash test dummies are used in a wide array of situations to simulate human body response.

Microwaves can quickly and effectively heat your food, saving you a ton of effort in the kitchen during mealtimes.
Microwaves can quickly and effectively heat your food, saving you a ton of effort in the kitchen during mealtimes.

10. Microwave Ovens

Who invented them?

  • Percy Spencer (1894–1970)

When were they invented?

  • 1945

Why are they significant?

  • The microwave has arguably become the world's most important kitchen appliance because it allows for food to be prepared almost instantaneously.

Now a common kitchen appliance, the microwave oven has become the irreplaceable gadget for cooking, thawing, or reheating food; popping popcorn, and making stews.

The microwave was not originally intended for kitchen use. In 1945, Percy Spencer, an engineer from Maine who was working on the magnetron for radar sets at Raytheon, discovered that the microwaves had unintentionally melted the chocolate bar in his pocket.

While others had noticed the effects of the magnetron, they had been too afraid to further investigate its powers. However, Spencer soon began using it to heat up his lunch, and, in 1946, Raytheon patented "high frequency dielectric heating apparatus"—the first microwave.

Did You Know?

Percy Spencer only received $2.00 for inventing the microwave oven—the standard rate Raytheon paid its employees for their inventions at the time. He never received any royalties.

Assembly lines allow products to be produced at a mass scale for a lower price. This allows consumers to purchase products that would otherwise be too expensive.
Assembly lines allow products to be produced at a mass scale for a lower price. This allows consumers to purchase products that would otherwise be too expensive.

11. Assembly Lines

Who invented them?

  • Ransom E. Olds (1864–1950)

When were they invented?

  • 1901

Cars, mobile phones, beauty products, processed food, and even jewelry have something in common—they are all manufactured through an assembly line. The assembly line is a systematic, sequential method of production of goods, which is cost effective since it lessens mistakes and hastens production time.

In 1901, the basic concept was introduced by Ransom Olds through his motor vehicle company in Michigan. Olds is also widely recognized as the founder of the automobile industry in the United States, and one of his vehicles, the Curved Dash Oldsmobile, was the first car successfully mass-produced on an assembly line.

But the assembly line that has left a lasting influence on the manufacturing world was that of the production of the Ford Model T by Henry Ford’s motor company in 1908. Initially, the assembly line was composed of workers, but it was later replaced with machines and, most recently, sophisticated robots.

Not only do lasers make dance clubs more fun or help you check out at the grocery store with ease, but they also serve important roles in medicine, astronomy, and engineering.
Not only do lasers make dance clubs more fun or help you check out at the grocery store with ease, but they also serve important roles in medicine, astronomy, and engineering.

12. Lasers

Who invented them?

  • Theodore H. Maiman (1927–2007)

When were they invented?

  • 1960

Why are they significant?

  • Lasers are used for a wide variety of purposes, for example in surgery and welding. Laser technology has also spurred further technological innovation, including DVD players and fiber optics.

Often associated with science fiction, a laser is an instrument that emits light that has been amplified through simulated emission. The word laser is actually an acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.

The concept of a laser was first proposed by Gordon Gould and was based on masers, which amplify microwaves.

The first laser was built by Theodore H. Maiman at Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, California. While others doubted the ability of artificial rubies to act as the medium for lasers, Maiman questioned their calculations and successfully developed the first laser, using artificial rubies, in 1960.

Today, the applications of the laser range from industrial, medical, and law enforcement to entertainment.

A laser is a solution seeking a problem.

— Theodore H. Maiman
LEDs are everywhere—from street lights to bicycle lights—the possibilities are endless and growing!
LEDs are everywhere—from street lights to bicycle lights—the possibilities are endless and growing!

13. Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs)

Who invented them?

  • Nick Holonyak, Jr. (1928–)

When were they invented?

  • 1962

Why are they significant?

  • In today's world, efforts are continually being made to "go green," and LED lights help by using less energy than, for example, fluorescent lights. They also last much longer and have common, useful applications, such as in televisions and electronic sports scoreboards.

In the current campaign for the use of green energy, the use of light-emitting diodes for lighting and image displays has increased because of the minimal energy it requires to produce light.

The LED has come a long way from its initial use as an indicator light for electronic devices. It was developed in 1962 by Nick Holonyak, Jr., a consulting scientist at General Electric Company in Syracuse, New York.

Holonyak's first LEDs were red due to the gallium arsenide phosphide used to make them. It wasn't until about a decade after their invention that LEDs were designed to be different colors. It is for this reason that many indicator lights on products were, and still are, red.

Where would you be without your GPS? While originally intended for military use, GPS has become an indispensable navigational tool for many.
Where would you be without your GPS? While originally intended for military use, GPS has become an indispensable navigational tool for many. | Source

14. Global Positioning System (GPS)

Who invented it?

  • U.S. Department of Defense

When was it invented?

  • 1973 (fully operational in 1993)

Why is it significant?

  • Today, GPS is an essential tool for national defense strategy, scientific research, and homeland security. It also serves as an important modern technology for navigational purposes.

Techniques for finding one’s location on Earth have evolved throughout the centuries. The technology of today is the Global Positioning System, which uses the global navigation satellite system managed by the government of the United States to pinpoint locations on a map.

This was developed in 1973 by the U.S. Department of Defense, but it only became fully operational in 1993. The technology developed from satellite navigation experiments that tracked U.S. submarines in the 1960s. With the help of satellites, submarines were able to detect changes in radio signal position based on the "Doppler effect."

Although it was primarily intended for military use, it can be accessible by anybody with some limitations—for navigation, map making, clock synchronization, and other uses.

The development of chemotherapy drugs has saved countless lives that may otherwise have been lost to cancer.
The development of chemotherapy drugs has saved countless lives that may otherwise have been lost to cancer.

15. Chemotherapy

Who invented it?

  • Louis S. Goodman (1906–2000) and Alfred Gilman (1941–2015)

When was it invented?

  • The 1940s

Why is it significant?

  • Goodman and Gilman's work led to significant improvements in cancer-fighting medicine. The ongoing development of chemotherapy treatments has led to a decline in cancer patient mortality rates.

Today, cancer and chemotherapy are sadly two commonly understood words. The use of chemotherapy for cancer treatment started in the 1940s when two pharmacologists from Yale University, Louis S. Goodman and Alfred Gilman, made observations that nitrogen mustard, a chemical warfare agent, suppressed the growth of lymphoid and myeloid cells.

The pair began to research the effects of using mustard agents in treating lymphoma, first experimenting on mice, then injecting nitrogen mustard into a patient with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. They discovered that, although the patient had to return for repeat injections, the tumor masses were significantly reduced from the treatment.

The results of their initial research were published in 1946. Their study sparked an interest in the subject for other scientists, and, after World War II, further research uncovered the benefits of folic acid in treating cancer.

Since then, researchers have honed in on more advanced combination chemotherapy techniques, and countless lives have been saved. Since the 1990s, cancer mortality rates have been steadily declining.

You may never have had a chance to play your Xbox if Goldsmith and Mann hadn't developed their simple target-hitting game in 1948.
You may never have had a chance to play your Xbox if Goldsmith and Mann hadn't developed their simple target-hitting game in 1948.

16. Video Games

Who invented them?

  • Thomas T. Goldsmith, Jr. (1910–2009) and Estle Ray Mann (1904–1965)

When were they invented?

  • 1948

Why are they significant?

  • Video games are wildly popular in today's world—the vast majority of American children and adolescents play them. Studies have suggested that video games have cognitive, emotional, and social benefits, such as aiding in the development of spatial skills and problem-solving skills and improving focus and creativity.

Aside from social networking, the most popular computer-based pastime is video gaming. A video game allows interaction between a user and a device with video feedback. The first video game was actually an analog electronic game using a cathode ray tube. Called the "cathode-ray tube amusement device," it was created by Thomas T. Goldsmith, Jr. and Estle Ray Mann in 1948.

Cathode-ray tubes were a ubiquitous element of life in the 20th century and were essentially the element that facilitated the electron beams that allowed images to appear on television screens. Since the 21st century, however, electronics manufacturers have moved toward LCD and plasma screens.

Goldsmith and Mann's game was inspired by World War II radar displays. Players would control a missile on the screen to hit a target. The target would be, for example, a picture of a plane physically taped to the screen. The controls for reaching the target were similar to that of an Etch-a-Sketch.

Although the game was non-programmable and not very advanced, due to its high production cost, it was never released to the public and only handmade prototypes were created. However, the duo's legacy has contributed to the development of Atari, Nintendo, PlayStation, and other gaming consoles, aiding in the proliferation of a massive worldwide industry that continues to grow.

Email has become an essential marketing, social, and business tool in today's world.
Email has become an essential marketing, social, and business tool in today's world. | Source

17. Email

Who invented it?

  • Ray Tomlinson (1941–2016)

When was it invented?

  • 1971

Why is it significant?

  • Email is an incredible advancement in human communication that allows near-instantaneous messaging at a global level.

Email became popular at the onset of the 21st century. It has become the preferred form of communication because it enables quick relay of messages and, at the same time, saves resources like ink and paper.

The first email was sent in 1971 between two computer terminals placed side by side by Ray Tomlinson, using ARPANET. Ray Tomlinson, a programmer from New York, is also credited for using the at (@) sign to separate the user’s name and the user’s machine (the latter changed to the domain name later).

Can you hear me now? Mobile phones have come a long way. Today's standard smartphones are much lighter, sleeker, and more advanced than Dr. Cooper's original invention.
Can you hear me now? Mobile phones have come a long way. Today's standard smartphones are much lighter, sleeker, and more advanced than Dr. Cooper's original invention.

People want to talk to other people—not a house, or an office, or a car. Given a choice, people will demand the freedom to communicate wherever they are, unfettered by the infamous copper wire.

— Dr. Martin Cooper

18. Mobile Phones

Who invented them?

  • Dr. Martin Cooper (1928–)

When were they invented?

  • 1973

Why are they significant?

  • Mobile phones have launched us into a world where photos, texts, news, music, social media, the internet, and phone calls are just a click away.

At first, the mobile phone was tailored for busy professionals—people who were always on the go. But it has become commonplace and almost a necessity for everyone in contemporary society.

The first handheld mobile phone was developed by a team headed by Dr. Martin Cooper. Dr. Cooper was formerly the vice president of Motorola. He was the division head when he showcased the first mobile phone in 1973. It weighed in at nearly four-and-a-half pounds.

Since Dr. Cooper's invention, mobile phones have taken off. Nearly everyone in the United States has a cell phone, and today, many of those are smartphones.

Did You Know?

Dr. Cooper's first call on the first mobile phone was to his main competitor at Bell Labs—he wanted to let him know that Motorola had beaten them to become the first company to design a successful mobile phone.

Personal computers, combined with the internet, opened the door for members of the public to experience and interact with the world in an unprecedented manner.
Personal computers, combined with the internet, opened the door for members of the public to experience and interact with the world in an unprecedented manner. | Source

19. Personal Computers

Who invented them?

  • John Blankenbaker (1930–)

When were they invented?

  • 1971

Why are they significant?

  • Personal computers are now practically essential to daily life in the United States. Individuals use them for educational purposes, to search for and organize information, to pay bills, and to communicate with ease.

The development of the computer spans centuries, but widespread use of computers only came with the invention of the personal computer in the 1970s. John Blankenbaker sold the first personal computer, the Kenbak-1, in 1971 for a value equivalent to nearly $4,500 in today's currency.

Blankenbaker designed the device in his Brentwood, California home after losing his job. While his original design lacked sophisticated input-output or large memory capacity, it is considered to be the first commercially available personal computer and predated Apple I by five years.

It's impossible to quantify how much the internet has changed human life. It's fair to say that it's tied to nearly all of the other inventions on this list. Need to send an email? Go online. Need to find a chocolate chip cookie recipe? Go online.
It's impossible to quantify how much the internet has changed human life. It's fair to say that it's tied to nearly all of the other inventions on this list. Need to send an email? Go online. Need to find a chocolate chip cookie recipe? Go online. | Source

20. The Internet

Who invented it?

  • Internet Protocol Suite of the National Science Foundation (U.S. government)

When was it invented?

  • 1983

Why is it significant?

  • The internet is likely the most influential and important invention on this list. Anyone with internet access can get information almost immediately, communicate easily with others, conduct online financial transactions, get current news updates, and much, much more. Online shopping, travel booking, education, and social media are all possible with the advent of the internet.

It is a common belief that humans have always been interconnected, but nothing confirms this better than seeing how much the internet connects humans in the 21st-century.

The first workable internet prototype was ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) in the 1960s, which allowed multiple computers to communicate on a single network. In the 1970s, scientists developed TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol), which established standards for data transmittal among multiple networks.

A network of networks, the internet was formally introduced with the Internet Protocol Suite of the National Science Foundation in 1983, which was funded by the U.S. government.

By 1990, the World Wide Web was established. It was not the same as the internet, serving merely as a means to access data online through websites and hyperlinks. However, this laid the framework for the popularization of the internet among the public, which helped to establish its continued monumental significance in today's world.

Indeed, the internet tops this list of inventions because it has created a means for the other inventions and related technology to become such ubiquitous and well-known tools for humankind. There are countless other impactful inventions (by non-Americans as well as Americans, of course) that have not been mentioned here, but these 20 stand out.

Something to add to the list? Feel free to comment! Thanks.

Works Cited

  1. A Phreno-Psychograph of Miller Reese Hutchison, the Expert Electrician. (1901). The Phrenological Journal and Science of Health: The English Phrenological Magazine, 111(6).
  2. Ahmed, I. (2017, March 21). John V. Blankenbaker: Engineering Hall of Fame - 2017. Oregon State University College of Engineering.
  3. American Chemical Society National Historic Chemical Landmarks. (2016, October 10). Discovery of Radiocarbon Dating.
  4. Andrews, E. (2013, December 18). Who invented the internet? History.com.
  5. Baldwin, R. (2018, June 20). 50 Years of LED Technology. Wired.com.
  6. Beaudouin, D. (2002). Reviving the Body Electric. Johns Hopkins Engineer.
  7. Blitz, M. (2017, November 14). The Unlikely Story of the First Video Game. Popular Mechanics.
  8. Chernin, D., & Shklar, G. (2003). Levi Spear Parmly: Father of dental hygiene and children's dentistry in America [Abstract]. Journal of the History of Dentistry.
  9. Dunbar, B. (2015, May 05). Global Positioning System History. NASA.
  10. Granic, I., Lobel, A., & Engels, R. C. (2013). The Benefits of Playing Video Games. American Psychologist.
  11. Greene, B. (2011, April 03). 38 years ago he made the first cell phone call. CNN.
  12. J. (2011, April 25). Geeks in History: Thomas T Goldsmith, Jr. GeekLife.com.
  13. Janega, J. (2015, June 11). The Zipper (1893). The Chicago Tribune.
  14. Lester Wire: Mormon Inventor. (2014, February 14). MormonWiki.
  15. Malanowski, J. (2015, June 01). The Brief History of the Ferris Wheel. Smithsonian Magazine.
  16. Mandal, A. (2018, August 23). History of Chemotherapy. News-Medical.net.
  17. Martin, D. (2007, May 11). Theodore Maiman, 79, Dies; Demonstrated First Laser. The New York Times.
  18. Myrna Oliver | LA Times Staff Writer. (2005, February 17). Samuel Alderson, 90; Inventor of Dummies Used to Test Car Safety. The Los Angeles Times.
  19. Percy Spencer. (2014). NNDB.
  20. Ransom E. Olds. (n.d.). R. E. Olds Foundation.
  21. Ross, R. (2016, December 15). Who Invented the Traffic Light? LiveScience.com.
  22. Saval, J. (n.d.). Creator of the Chocolate Chip Cookie. University of Florida Interactive Media Lab.
  23. Scoreboards – What Exactly is LED and Why is it Important? (n.d.). Electro-Mech Scoreboard Company.
  24. The Founder of Oldsmobile: Ransom E. Olds. (n.d.). Michigan History (Michigan State University).
  25. Theodore Maiman. (n.d.). Magnet Academy (National High Magnetic Field Laboratory).
  26. This Month in Physics History: October 21, 1914: Birth of Samuel W. Alderson, inventor of the crash test dummy. American Physical Society (2011). APS News, 20(9).
  27. Wilson, B. (2015, November 06). The man who made 'the world's first personal computer'. BBC News.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Good to See you 

      2 days ago

      The mobile phone and the Traffic light isnt from the USA they are from Germany

    • profile image

      is me 

      5 weeks ago

      it is ok

    • profile image

      mike s 

      2 months ago

      How can you make this list and forget the automobile and the airplane?...

    • profile image

      colton white 

      3 months ago

      most of them are very cool.

    • profile image

      Cesar Arizpe 

      3 months ago

      I can't believe you didn't add Toilet Paper to the top 10 list... everytime that soft tissue paper touches your bottom lift up your eyes and say God Bless America.

    • profile image

      Watch your back 

      3 months ago

      5 great things America gave to the universe:

      The bush clan

      At least 3 world depressions

      Donald chump

      Mcdonalds

    • profile image

      Happy 

      4 months ago

      This is AWESOME

    • profile image

      pen pineapple apple pen 

      5 months ago

      10 more? please

    • profile image

      me 

      6 months ago

      to other people the internet was invented in the us the world wide web was in the uk they are both different things

    • profile image

      I Like Trains 

      7 months ago

      some of these did seem interesting but boring at the same time but i found out a lot of things i never thought of looking at.

    • profile image

      YO MAMA 

      7 months ago

      Some of these were not really important

    • profile image

      Real 

      7 months ago

      Wow... Nice text but some things are wrong: The Internet was invented by Tim-Berner Lee (UK). The Computer was invented by Konrad Zuse (Z3). BUT you got one thing right: You didn't mentioned the "light bulb" which was invented by the UK.

    • profile image

      Yo 

      7 months ago

      This list was very well thought out! Thank you!

    • profile image

      colt 

      8 months ago

      I love microwave wave oven they are very useful it can cook toast bagels and even more so you don't need a microwave or toaster

    • profile image

      bethany 

      9 months ago

      where is the light bulb? ah duh!

      these aren't even the best and certainly not the most important inventions of the US.

      WHAT THE HECK!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      moataz 

      9 months ago

      This is great I enjoyed it so much

    • profile image

      Billybobbins4972 

      10 months ago

      America's greatest contribution to the universe? The banjo, surely? Although most Americans seem to be so full of national pride, I'm sure they think they invented everything.

    • profile image

      landon 1133 

      10 months ago

      very very very very helpful

    • profile image

      chris 

      10 months ago

      what about the national park system? An idea adopted around the globe that is still alive and well today.

    • profile image

      Nathan H 

      12 months ago

      Dear author

      I have to disagree with you on a few of them. Where is the telephone? Light Bulb? And poo you are soooooo funny

      NOT

    • profile image

      au 

      13 months ago

      there were multiple inventors for the world wide web ppl

    • profile image

      Bob 

      15 months ago

      microwave for the win of people that don't have a wife

    • profile image

      dr Harris 

      17 months ago

      A lot of people; not all of them laymen; wrongly assume that particular individuals INVENTED Electric Lights, Radio, Television, Computers, Record Players, Tape recorders, hovercraft, aircraft, helicopters and of course; JET ENGINES. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of how science, and its application to engineer useful products, actually works.

      Misplaced national pride often lead people to use the royal WE when claiming superiority of their own race or country based on the assertion that We have superior intelligence or natural flair and originality than other peoples or parts of the World as attested by these erroneous claims to fame.

      The breakthroughs often came as a result of advances in available materials. Much of the mathematical modelling required for Holography was laying in wait for a sufficiently pure and collimated beam of light; the laser unlocked the door.

      Kings ransoms have been thrown at projects that have extended the aims of an application beyond the limitations of the available materials; early exploding boilers, later exploding Comet aircraft; Concorde sitting at the extremes of what could be done and well beyond what should have been done. Man going to the Moon.

      Purely as a particular example to demonstrate the point, is the published history of ideas that led any number of people around the World to correctly predict and even try to realise motive thrust using known thermodynamics combined with compression and expansion using fans and turbines. (Jet Engines) it is a long list.

    • profile image

      tia 

      17 months ago

      well done

    • profile image

      Pip 

      17 months ago

      There is nothing wrong with being patriotic but you shouldn't twist history to suit your needs.

      Both the computer (Charles Babbage (mechanical) and later Alan Turing (electronic)) and the internet (www, Tim Berners-Lee) are UK inventions as were the telephone, jet engine etc.

    • profile image

      maria prendi 

      18 months ago

      very interesting

    • profile image

      Ben 

      20 months ago

      Hahhahahahha, the internet is british, big up Tim Bernards Lee

    • profile image

      Haniho 

      20 months ago

      Add Tesla Model S

    • profile image

      Angel 

      2 years ago

      Very interesting but what happened with the wheel and the lightbulb

    • profile image

      Har 

      2 years ago

      true these inventions are cool

    • profile image

      hmmm 

      2 years ago

      this was a very useful site thank you :)

    • profile image

      MLG goldenfreddy 

      2 years ago

      thanks for site its really helpful

    • profile image

      MichaelK 

      2 years ago

      I think this website was very useful thank you creators!

    • profile image

      Mike 

      2 years ago

      Your statement the the US invented "the internet" is misleading. The internet (proper) is simply the networking and protocols that allow computers to communicate. It is the "plumbing" if you like. However what most people think of as the internet these days is in fact the "world wide web" i.e. websites, streaming of data, online shopping etc.- and that was invented by an Englishman, Tim Berners-Lee.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Very interesting and well thought out list.

    • profile image

      Larry Wall 

      3 years ago

      You put together a very good list. I was wondering if contact lenses were an American invention. I have to wear regular glasses, but most people prefer contacts, I think.

    • B Lucy profile image

      B Lucy 

      4 years ago from Podunk, Virginia

      Thoroughly enjoyed reading this hub!!

    • idigwebsites profile image

      idigwebsites 

      5 years ago from United States

      Few of these inventions came from accidental discoveries, which is really interesting. Really awesome. You gotta love the nerds, so don't bully them at school. One day they will invent something that will make our lives better. Thanks for posting! Up and awesome. :)

    • Mr Deltoid 1966 profile image

      Rich 

      5 years ago from New Jersey

      nice hub.

    • profile image

      bailey 

      5 years ago

      awesome

    • profile image

      bjornv 

      6 years ago

      This was cool to read it teached me much. thanks

    • Jameshank profile imageAUTHOR

      Jameshank 

      6 years ago from Japan, NY, California

      I'm glad you enjoyed reading. Thanks for dropping by!

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      6 years ago from Chicago

      I love this Hub! Your list is fantastic! I enjoyed this thoroughly. Well done!

    • Jameshank profile imageAUTHOR

      Jameshank 

      6 years ago from Japan, NY, California

      Thanks tillsontitan for also taking the time to read this hub on inventions! I'm also grateful for the vote up...

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Very interesting inventions for you to choose. You have skimmed the surface with some very important inventions with just the right mix of whimsical. Nicely written with a brief introduction to each invention keeping the hub flowing, especially for the non-technical of us. Voted up.

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