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Here are the remaining all-star inventors, from P to Z

Third in a three-part series

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By Paul Niemann

[JUNE 24, 2004] 

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This is a tough one. Is it …

a. The inventor of Coca-Cola, Dr. Pemberton?

b. The inventor of Kool-Aid, Edwin Perkins?

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 closed.

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 patents.

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 of him.


[to top of second column in this article]


NEXT !!!

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." 'Nuff said.


NEXT !!!

Gumpei Yokoi, creator of the Nintendo Game Boy.

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 above inventors in this three-part series, how many are still living?

Only four: The Navajo Indians, Dean Kamen, Scott and Brennan Olson, and Robert Rines.

* * *

Readers: Which inventors or inventions would you like to read about in future articles? Send your comments to me at niemann7@inventionmysteries.com

[Paul Niemann]

© Copyright Paul Niemann 2004

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