On May 12, some of history's greatest inventors will be inducted into the U.S. National Inventors Hall of Fame. The 43rd annual ceremony recognizes people who hold patents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and whose inventions have helped advance science, technology, or the welfare of society. Pictured above is Thomas Edison in his laboratory in 1901. He was the first inductee to the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1973, recognized for inventing the light bulb, phonograph, and movie camera, among other devices. Edison acquired a record 1,093 patents for his inventions.
The first U.S. patent was issued in 1790 and was signed by then-president George Washington. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (or USPTO) was established to protect intellectual property, or to allow creators of a unique idea to officially register their ownership of it. This protection can be useful for inventors, to prevent others from taking credit for their work or perhaps attempting to make money off of it. The USPTO has issued over eight million patents since its inception.
The 2015 inductees come from both current and past decades and have invented a number of technologies that are probably familiar to you. Inductee Marion Donovan, for instance, was issued a patent in 1951 for a waterproof diaper cover; after her product became a commercial hit, she sold the rights to a corporation later that year for $1 million. Jaap Haartsen was issued a patent in 2003 for Bluetooth Wireless Technology, a form of radio wave communication that allows electronic devices to synchronize while nearby. Also in the realm of technology is inventor and 2014 Physics Nobel Prize winner Shuji Nakamura, inventor of the blue LED and blue laser diode, among others. Blue lasers have proven critical in improving computer storage capacity, and are used in Blu-Ray discs. See the video below for more of this year's inductees.
Celebrate National Inventors Month all of May with these Science NetLinks teaching resources:
- Inventors and Inventions Collection
- Inventions 1: Edison and the Light Bulb (K-2)
- Inventions 2: The Impact (K-2)
- Build a Better Pencil (K-2)
- Invention at Play (K-5)
- Inventors and Innovators (6-8)
- Thomas Edison for Kids (6-8)
- Leonardo's Machines (6-8)
- Wheelchairs (6-12)
- Tesla: Inside the Lab (6-12)
- Inventions of Necessity: Synthetic Rubber (9-12)
How will you celebrate National Inventors Month? Have you ever dreamed of creating a new invention?