Past, Present, & Future: Three Innovators to Know for National Inventors Month

May 31, 2017

Across the web you’ll find lots of great articles highlighting Edison, Tesla, Latimer, Jobs, Lamarr and many more. We’re doing something a little different this month by highlighting three innovators you should know that have flown under the radar: one from the past, one from the present, and one that will undoubtedly be a big name in the future.

Past: Robert Noyce, “Mayor of Silicon Valley”

Robert Noyce may be the most notable inventor you’ve probably never heard of. Dubbed the “Mayor of Silicon Valley”, Noyce put San Jose, California on the map by leading major technology companies (e.g. Fairchild Semiconductor, Intel Corporation and SEMATECH) and by inventing the integrated chip, more commonly known as the microchip. Without Noyce’s achievements there would be no satellites, no computers to guide the space program, no cell phones, no online banking, and no digital TV. Just to name a few. Life without the microchip would be vastly different from what it is today.

Present: Lonnie G. Johnson, Engineer

As an African American growing up in Alabama during segregation, Lonnie Johnson had to overcome significant hurdles to become an engineer and successful inventor. A tinkerer from a young age, Johnson joined the Air Force and worked for NASA as a systems engineer. In his free time Johnson worked on an inventive heat pump using water instead of Freon. While testing the prototype, the pump sprayed a pressurized stream of water leading Johnson to develop and sell the idea for the extremely popular “Super Soaker” water gun. That success led to a variety of patented innovations and ongoing research into what could turn out to be Johnson’s greatest achievement: an ultra-efficient solar energy convertor.

Future: David Cohen, Robot Designer

David is a 13-year-old inventor focused on solving the world’s problems with robotics. His first major invention came about in 2014 when he developed a robot “worm” that could dig through rubble to find buried victims of natural disasters. Next, he wanted to help cure malaria, so he built a robot that drowned mosquito larvae. Both inventions earned praise from judges at the 3M Young Scientist Challenge and in the media. While David is technically innovating now you can be sure the best is yet to come. As for his future inventions? Well, they’re top secret at the moment, so stay tuned.

Want to read more inspiring blog posts like this? Start by learning how the inventor is our economy’s honey bee by clicking here.