This is a tough one. Is it
a. The inventor of Coca-Cola, Dr.
b. The inventor of Kool-Aid, Edwin
c. James Paige, who received a patent
for the Paige typesetter, which was funded by one of our favorite
inventors, Mark Twain?
d. Robert Patch, who invented and
patented a toy truck that could be changed into different types of
trucks? What's so great about that, you say? Mr. Patch was only 6
years old when he received his patent.
e. None of the above.
The winner is "e. None of the above"
because of chemist Louis Pasteur's process of pasteurization. Case
Q is for
Q, the fictional inventor of
the James Bond series. As a rule, we disqualify fictional characters
in our list of A-Z all-stars on a technicality (see fictional TV
character MacGyver in
last week's column), but since there are no
well-known actual inventors whose names begin with "Q" (please see
"U" and "X"), this technicality becomes a technicality itself and,
like a double negative, it cancels itself out. So the "Q" goes to Q.
Dr. Robert Rines, inventor of
high-definition radar and the imaging sonar used in sonograms. Dr.
Rines is one of the world's top experts on the Loch Ness monster,
and he uses his own sonar technology to search for the legendary
monster. Your humble scribe had the opportunity to visit his office
recently and see firsthand some photos taken nearly 30 years ago of
what appeared to be the monster. (Nessie's fins are much bigger in
the photos than in the usual images.) Dr. Rines' technology was also
used to find the Titanic and the Bismarck, and he holds more than 60
Eighteen-year-old Ralph Samuelson from
Minnesota invented water-skiing in 1922 after he figured that if you
could ski on snow, then you could ski on water. Then there's Levi
Strauss, who deserves some consideration for creating blue jeans;
but the winner is Igor Sikorsky, inventor of the helicopter.
Croatian-born inventor Nikola Tesla was
quite possibly the most inventive genius the world has ever known.
Tesla is the main developer of two of the world's most important
inventions or discoveries -- radio and alternating current
electricity, aka AC, even though most of the world has never heard
[to top of second column in
Oh, Vanna, do we have a "V" for the
inventor of the vacuum, Otto Von Guericke, the former burgermeister
of Magdeburg, Germany? Von Guericke served as the town's burgermeister (mayor) during the 1600s.
The brothers Wright -- Wilbur and
Orville -- for the patent they received for their "flying machine."
Gumpei Yokoi, creator of the Nintendo
You wouldn't think that there would be
much competition for the letter "Z," but there's Frank Zamboni,
inventor of the ice-resurfacing machine that bears his name, and
Ferdinand Zeppelin, who invented the dirigible he named after
himself. But Russian immigrant Vladimir Zworykin invented the
cathode-ray tube needed for television transmission. Zworykin also
invented the iconoscope, an early television camera. Even though
your kids probably watch way too much TV, we still award the letter
"Z" to Vladimir Zworykin.
Here's a recap of the letter-winning
inventors in this three-part series, from "A" to "Z," excluding "U"
and "X": Archimedes, Alexander Graham Bell, George Washington
Carver, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin,
Johannes Gutenberg, Hippocrates, Indians of the Navaho tribe, Thomas
Jefferson, Dean Kamen, William Lear, Samuel Morse, Alfred Nobel,
Scott and Brennan Olson, Louis Pasteur, Q, Robert Rines, Igor
Sikorsky, Nikola Tesla, Otto Von Guericke, Wilbur and Orville
Wright, Gumpei Yokoi and Vladimir Zworykin.
Now for the $64,000 question: Of the
inventors in this three-part series, how many are still living?
The Navajo Indians, Dean Kamen, Scott and
Brennan Olson, and Robert Rines.
* * *
Which inventors or inventions would you like to read about in future
articles? Send your comments to me at
© Copyright Paul Niemann 2004