A List of American Inventions

Just to put the last 200 years or so inperspective.  Food for thought to think what the world would have been like without these American inventors.

1801, Modern Suspension Bridge, James Finley

1853, Potato chips, George Crum

1856, Condensed Milk, Gail Borden

1879, Electric Light Bulb, Thomas Alva Edison

1885, Photographic Film, George Eastman

1887, Disc Record, Emile Berliner 1877, Phonograph, Thomas Alva Edison

1861, Machine Gun, Richard Gatling

1885, Skyscraper, William Le Baron Jenney

1897, Cotton Candy, William Morrison & John C. Wharton

1894, Mousetrap, William C. Hooker

1903, Airplane, Wilbur and Orville Wright

1905, Ice pop, Frank Epperson

1912 the electric traffic light by Lester Wire, a policeman from Salt Lake City.

1926, Liquid-Fuel Rocket, Robert H. Goddard

1929, Sun glasses, Sam Foster 1937, Edwin Land, Polarized sun glasses

1929, Frozen Food, Clarence Birdseye

1930, Chocolate chip cookie, Ruth Wakefield

1937, modern day digital computer was invented by George Stibitz while he was working at Bell Labs.

1938, Nylon, Wallace H. Carothers 1956, Pantyhose, Ernest G. Rice

1939, The fully automatic automobile transmission was invented by General Motors and introduced by Oldsmobile & Cadillac.

1945, Microwave Oven, Percy Spencer

1945, Nuclear Bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer

1945, microwave oven, Percy Spencer, an engineer from Maine who was working on the magnetron for radar sets at Raytheon, found out that the microwaves had melted the chocolate in his pocket.

1950, Credit card, Ralph Schneider & Frank X. McNamara

1950, Disposable Diaper, Marion Donovan

1954, Nuclear Submarine, Hyman Rickover

1958, Integrated circuit, 1947, Transistor, Jack Kilby William Shockley

1960, Magnetic stripe card, Forrest Parry

1960 the first LASER was built by Theodore H. Maiman, at Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, California.

1962   the use of Light Emitting Diodes for lighting and image displays by Nick Holonyak Jr., a consulting scientist at General Electric Company in Syracuse, New York.

1965,  Compact Disk, by inventor Jack Russel

1965,  Kevlar, Stephanie Kwolek

1968, Lunar Module, Tom Kelly

1969, Laser Printer by Gary Keith Starkweather Xerox’s Webster research Center.

1970 –  fiber optic cable was developed by Robert Maurer, Donald Keck, and Peter Schultz, Corning Glass in New York

1971, Personal Computer, John Blankenbaker

1971 Email The first email was sent in 1971 using ARPANET, by Ray Tomlinson.

1973 The first the mobile phone was developed by a team headed by Dr. Martin Cooper.

1981, Space Shuttle, George Mueller

1982 – the Internet Protocol Suite of the US National Science Foundation


– The computer mouse – funded by the US Government

– The Charge Coupled Device image sensor and the LCD display where both developed by the RCA Sarnoff Labs under a US Government contract.

1978-1994 – GPS invented by the United States Air Force became operational (Fully operational 1995)

12 thoughts on “A List of American Inventions

  1. Good list but you left off everything invented by Nikola Tesla. Like alternateing current. Without this man the planet would be stuck in a DC world with no radio.

  2. They got the traffic light wrong. It originated in Indiana, not Salt Lake City! I know this as a fact. Heck, it was even in our textbooks! The man just waited for too long to put a patent on it, so it spread like wildfire, and he lost lots of money because of that. Anyways, this list is pretty awesome!

  3. Nice list, but i don`t think it is completely acurate. With just a glance, I can see some errors.

    * Thomas Edison invented the first long lasting Light Bulb. There where 22 Light Bulb makers before him.

    * George Stibitz invented a electric calculator, the first computer was built by tommy flowers.

      1. Well, the NAVSTAR (GPS) system was conceived in the late 50s. Aerospace Corp did a study recommending it to the Air Force in the 60s. The first bird went up in 1974; 11 more were launched into the NAVSTAR constellation between 1978 and 1985. The GPS system as we know it today went fully operational in 1995. I could list “invented” anywhere along that timeline so I’ll change it to 1978-1995.

  4. The Charge Coupled Device image sensor and the LCD display where both developed by the RCA Sarnoff Labs under a government contract.

    Five others you forgot – fiber optic cable was developed by Corning Glass in New York, instant photography was developed by Dr. Edwin Land in MA, the laser printer was invented by IBM, and photocopying (the xerographic process, which is a major part of the laser printer) was developed by the Halaid Corp. (later known as Xerox) in NY in the 1950s. Last but not least – the fully automatic automobile transmission was invented by General Motors and introduced by Oldsmobile & Cadillac in 1939.

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