Discoveries and inventions have led our way out of the darkness and absence of reason. With every passing century, humans have rediscovered things around them from a totally new perspective. This is followed by either improvement along the same line or new findings. And the frequency of scientific advancements is increasing every passing day. Therefore, we now almost daily read about some new development or discovery in some part of the world. But it is equally important to recognise the century and the inventors who lived through that which has somewhat laid the foundation of discoveries for the new and modern world, the century which gave the world so many discoveries which were earlier beyond many of our ancestors’ wildest imaginations. We are discussing the 19th century when the world took a giant leap in science and innovation.
So many things that we use today are a product of that century’s inventors, either as an improvement on an existing work or a wholly new product. The typewriter, the telephone, the camera, the electric battery, the aspirin, the telegraph, and even the escalator, are a few examples of the inventions which took place in the 19th century. And much higher praise should go to the greatest inventors of the 19th century. We will always remain indebted to them for their service to humankind. There are a lot of inventors of the 19th century whose contributions we use but do not know about them. Hence, it is high time we recognise the greatest inventors of the 19th century.
Famous inventors of the 19th century
The greatest inventors of the 19th century gathered huge of fame either during their lifetime or posthumously. It is difficult to overlook the greatest inventors of the 19th century while we enjoy their inventions to the fullest. There are many inventors of the 19th century, but some are extremely important and need our recognition. The first person is Nikola Tesla.
If one looks at the legacy of Nikola Tesla, it would be clear why he is the first on our list. A person with so many pathbreaking discoveries, he almost single-handedly changed the course of our living. He was born in Austria and his mother inspired him to invent things. Nikola Tesla over his lifetime accumulated over 200 patents across the world, most of them in the United States. Some of his most important inventions are the Tesla Coil, the radio, neon lamps, the induction motor, the radio-controlled boat, and the alternating current (AC). In Canada, he is also remembered for the Niagara Falls transformer house. This invention became a standard for hydroelectric power. Tesla remained forgotten for a long time. Currently, many experts consider him as the person who lit the world. Nikola Tesla, by every means, is one of the greatest inventors of the 19th century.
Further, we have Alexander Graham Bell, the father of the telephone. He was born in Scotland but later migrated to Canada and then the United States. In the United States, he developed the microphone and the acoustic telegraph (telephone today).
Next on our list is Thomas Edison, a successful inventor and entrepreneur. He is credited for the discovery of the durable light bulb. He was an American and had a successful business. Despite his success, he lost the battle with Nikola Tesla when he challenged the credibility of the alternating current.
Famous black inventors of the 19th century
Black people saw a very tough life. They were treated as people of a lower standard by the non-blacks around the world. Despite so many atrocities, black people came out free finally. Today, they are contributing to the world in many ways. Even when slavery was still practised, that is, in the 19th century, black people made many inventions even under oppression. It is of extreme importance to recognise their contributions to the world through their inventions and we will do so presently.
First is Andrew Beard. He was born into slavery and regained his freedom when he was fifteen. His most important work is the invention of the Jenny coupler while he worked for the railroads in the United States. Jenny coupler automatically locked train cars together when they bumped into each other. Before this, workers inserted metal pins to link the cars when they came together. This resulted in many accidents. Andrew J. Beard with his invention saved countless lives.
Next is Lewis Latimer. He invented a carbon filament to use in bulbs. They were cheaper and lasted longer than Thomas Edison’s first design. Edison’s company later hired him. Some more of Latimer’s inventions are locking umbrellas, a disinfecting and cooling device, and a bathroom for railroad cars.
Norbert Rillieux is another black inventor on our list. He was born to the owner of a large plantation. That plantation often grew sugar. Rillieux invented the multiple-effect vacuum evaporator to refine sugar. With this invention, a whiter and more refined sugar could be produced with lesser labour. This invention of Norbert Rillieux was later extended to other evaporating processes, like soap, condensed milk, whiskey, and gelatin.
Apart from the aforementioned three, many other black people have their names as some of the greatest inventors of the 19th century.
Female inventors of the 19th century
Women were oppressed a lot even, in recent history. Despite their equal role in society, they were looked down upon. But they did not let this continue for long. They made the world understand their importance again by their mettle. Therefore, we should take time to appreciate those inventors of the 19th century who were women. Those inventors of the 19th century also brought a lot of change to our course of life. Hence, they deserve our attention and respect. Let us begin with Maria Beasley.
Maria Beasley was an American inventor. One of her most important inventions is the making of a life raft for ships which succeeded the simple wooden planks used as life rafts. Other inventions include a foot-warmer, an anti-derailment device for trains, and the barrel-making machine. She was a dedicated entrepreneur. The way she marketed her inventions generated an estimated income of $20,000 a year. At that time, women generally made $3 a day.
Sarah Breedlove is another female inventor from the 19th century worth recognition. She was an African-American woman and went on to become the first self-made female millionaire in the United States. While working as a laundress, she realised she and many other black women suffered from hair loss and scalp diseases due to various reasons. Over the next few years, she studied the problem and developed her own line of hair-care products. Those products served especially the needs of African-American women. Later, she set up an academy to train “hair culturists”. With her wealth and influence, she started to address social and political issues for the betterment of the African-American people in the United States.
Apart from the abovementioned two, Margaret Knight and Josephine Cochrane were also two of the greatest inventors of the 19th century who were women.
Famous British inventors of the 19th century
We know Britain for a lot of things: English literature, some of the oldest universities in the world, colonialism, age-old traditions still followed, and some pathbreaking inventors too. A lot of things that make our life easy today are the gift of some of the greatest inventors of the 19th century from Britain. The list is long, but let us consider some of them, starting with J. S. Fry and Sons.
Chocolate is something we cannot imagine our life without. J. S. Fry and Sons, inventors of the 19th century from Britain, are the inventors of chocolate, arguably the most loved food in the world.
Next is William Addis. Addis is one of the inventors of the 19th century from Britain whose contribution we use almost every day, the toothbrush. While serving his time in prison, he saw a guard sweep the floors there. He thought if the same method is suitable for cleaning our teeth and came up with the toothbrush. Prior to this, people used soot, cloth, and crushed shell to clean their teeth. William Addis gave us one of the most important tools to take care of oral hygiene.
George Cayley, a British aeronautical engineer, in the year 1808, invented the tension-spooked wheel. It is the same wheel we use every day in motorbikes, bicycles, and other similar vehicles. This invention is of great utility to all of us. George Cayley is indeed one of the greatest inventors of the 19th century.
Last but not least is Alexander Graham Bell, the man who gave us telephones, the most important device for long-distance communication. He discovered rapidly vibrating sheets of metal could produce an electrical waveform. Those waveforms could match exactly to the vibrations and this allowed vocal messages to go effortlessly from one place to another.
Famous inventors of 19th century market revolution
Market Revolution was a phenomenon that occurred in the first half of the 19th century in the United States. The changes resulted in a huge migration of Americans from the countryside to the cities. A huge chunk of the American population stopped working as agricultural workers and joined factories. This is not attributed to any single person or an event. It was a result of changes taking place in the context of social, economic, and political circumstances in the United States. Many historians often say that the market revolution started in the 1790s itself, but that is still a rough estimation. But what we can say with certainty is that it took place between the American Revolution and the Civil War.
Because this was a period of massive changes, it is, therefore, of no doubt that a lot of great inventors also lived through it. Many of the greatest inventors of the 19th century produced their inventions during this period of market revolution.
Let us start with Robert Fulton, an American engineer. Robert Fulton is considered as one of the greatest inventors of the 19th century for his invention of the steamboat. This steamboat was named The North River Steamboat, or Clermont. He invented the steamboat in the year 1807. Apart from being an engineer and an inventor, Robert Fulton was a businessman too. His invention changed the face of maritime traffic in the United States and the world.
Next is Samuel F. B. Morse., the American painter and inventor. He had a special interest in electricity and related subjects. This led him to invent the electric telegraph, an innovation on the existing models. Besides this, he also had three patents for pumps in 1817 with his brother Sidney Morse. He was also an inventor of the Morse code.
American inventors of the 19th century
The United States is a country that attracts a lot of people. It is because it has been the home of innovation, development, and opportunities to many. In the modern world, no country is as rich and developed as the United States is, for which it enjoys a great deal of power and say in the international fora. Credit goes to the Americans and the people from around the world they gave opportunities to work in their country. Now let us look at some of the greatest American inventors of the 19th century.
One of the most famous inventors of his time, we start with Thomas Edison. Every time you switch on a light in your house, you should thank Edison and his company who revolutionised how we light up our spaces. If not for him, it might have been possible that we still did not have those light bulbs and the subsequent forms of electrical lighting which make our life easy.
Next is Isaac Singer. Sewing machines existed before him Singer did his seminal work, but the way he improved sewing machines changed the course of the garment industries forever. He also found one of the first multinational companies in America then, the Singer Sewing Machine Company. Throughout his lifetime, he amassed enormous wealth which proved he was an equally successful businessman too.
Finally, let us consider George Eastman, the founder of the camera company Kodak. Although the first camera was made in France, Eastman brought photography to the masses with his Kodak camera. His improvements on the then existing cameras led him him to develop the portable and easy-to-use cameras. He also developed the flexible film which was a great contribution to the motion picture industry. Besides being an entrepreneur, he was a very generous philanthropist too.
Inventors of the 19th century in France
France is an attractive country. Beautiful cities, exquisite architecture, well-preserved history, and ingenious inventions, all these make France a greta place for any visitor. The 19th century saw many inventions which revolutionsed our daily life. Many of them came from French inventors too. Now we will discuss some of the greatest inventors of the 19th century from France.
We start with Louis Braille, the person who in his childhood itself gave a gift to the blind people around the world. He was blind and at the fifteen, he was tirelessly trying to read and write to express himself. That is when he came up with the Braille script.
Next is the French physician Rene Laennec who invented the stethoscope. This enabled the doctors and medical practitioners to diagnose patients better. This is because by this they could hear the heartbeat of the patients without having to place their ear on the patients’ chest. This invention was a boon for the medical industry.
French engineer Emile Gagnan and Naval Lieutenant Jacques Cousteau invented the first commercially successful SCUBA. This helped divers to breathe underwater for over an hour thereon.
Louie le Prince is another French inventor we must be thankful to everytime we see a video and remember something. He patented the first film camera. On that, he shot the first moving picture in the world using celluloid. With this, he gave way to the industry of videography and filmmaking.
Louis Pasteur created the vaccines for anthrax and rabies. He also invented a method of heating food and wine to kill the microbes which contaminated them. This process is named Pasteurization after him. This Frenchman is also called the father of microbiology.
19th century inventions that change the world
We have talked a great deal about the greatest inventors of the 19th century. Now, let us move our attention to some of the greatest inventions of the 19th century with changed the world.
As we type, we realise how convenient a method it is compared to writing, especially with the uniformity and other aspects related to convenience. Johan Gutenberg invented the idea of a printer which applied the concept of the movable type, a revolutionary modification. He converted the printing press to a portable device for personal usage. Christopher Sholes, with Samuel Soule and Carlos Glidden, in 1867, created the first bankable typewriter. In 1872, Thomas Edison built the first electric typewriter.
Next is Coca-Cola. Although it is just another beverage, a refreshment drink, it was a revolution for its time. Especially, when Coca-Cola and its likes are so common drinks that we cannot imagine a life without them, they deserve our attention. Its history dates back to 1886. Dr Pemberton modified his tonic headache and stimulant recipe. Later, he coined the trademark “Coca-Cola”. Later, Asa G. Candler managed to gain complete control over this drink and opened The Coca-Cola Company.
Then we have elevators. In 1852, Elisha Otis developed the first elevator safety brakes and installed them in elevators in 1853 for safe use. Before elevators, elevator-type machines were used to transport goods from one floor to another. But they required a firm hand on the rope to prevent them from dropping. Otis opened his company for elevators in 1853 and installed the first human elevator in a departmental store in New York, in 1857. In 1861, Elisha Otis received the patent for his improvements on the safety brakes and holstering mechanism. Later, the Otis brothers set up the Otis Elevator Company in 1898 with other partners.
Greatest inventors of the 19th century FAQs
Who was the greatest inventor of the 19th century?
Although the 19th century has produced a lot of great inventors, Nikola Tesla is the greatest of them all. Electricity, the element which runs the world today, was controlled by Nikola Tesla. He controlled electricity and gave it the form which was later used by many other inventors for their inventions. His alternating current is used widely now across the world for daily purposes.
Who invented the cotton gin?
Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin. Cotton gin revolutionised cotton production. The machine removed seeds from cotton plants very fast which sped up the production processes involving the use of cotton.
Who invented dynamite?
Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist, engineer, businessman, and inventor invented the dynamite. Nobel died in 1896 with over 350 patents to his name around the world.
Who were some of the most prominent inventors of the 19th century?
Although the 19th century has produced a lot of inventors and inventions, some of them deserve exceptional attention. They are Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Samuel Morse, Charles Goodyear, and George Eastman.