This article was written by Małgorzata
Zdybiewska who works for TTC in Radom and is a member of the web team.
We love gadgets and new
devices that make our lives easier and more convenient. New inventions appear
on the market every day. Some are only a passing craze or short-lived fashion
e.g. “key tracers’” or “pagers” but some stay for much longer. The names of
their inventors then become household words. They enter our language and after
some time we tend to forget that indeed the invented machines or products bear
the names of their inventors. Below there is a list of famous inventors who had
some very well known and popular products named after them.
- Ladislao Biro, a Hungarian inventor who realized the advantage
of quick drying inks. He invented a ballpoint pen, a biro,
which became a great success. Nowadays students cannot possible imagine
what it was like to use a traditional pen and ink.
- John Bowler, a London hatter who designed a man’s hard hat
known as a bowler. Together with a black umbrella it has
become a symbol of a City gent i.e. somebody who works in the City of
- Louis Braille (1809-52), a French teacher who was blinded as a
child. He successfully invented a system, which the blind could both read
and write. It consists of a sequence of cells, each of which contains a
3x2 matrix of embossed dots, whose patterns can be sensed through the
fingers. Computer-assisted systems are now available which can turn text
- Robert Wilhelm Bunsen, (1811-99), a Prussian chemist and
physicist who invented the grease—spot photometer, a galvanic battery, and
an ice calorimeter. He also came with an idea of a gas burner, used mainly
in chemistry laboratories, which is named after him. Bunsen’s
technical assistant, C.Desaga, first constructed Bunsen burner and
a credit should go to him as well.
- James Cardigan, (1797-1868), a British general who led the
charge of the Light Brigade against the Russians in the Crimean War. The
woolen jacket known as a cardigan is named after him.
- Samuel Colt (1814-62), an American inventor who in 1826
patented a pistol with a revolving barrel that could fire six bullets one
after the other. An US army, founding the fortunes of Colt’s
company, Colt’s Patent Fire Arms, adopted the colt after the Mexican War.
- Rudolph Diesel (1858-1913), a German engineer who constructed a
“rational heat motor’. In 1897 he demonstrated the first
compression-ignition engine. Diesel engine, invented by
Rudolph Diesel in 1897, is an internal combustion engine,
working upon the diesel cycle, which ignites its fuel/air mixture by heating
it to combustion point through compression.
- Hans Geiger (1882-1945), a German physicist who worked in
Britain under Rutherford. He investigated beta-ray radioactivity and
helped devise a counter to measure it. The counter now bears his name. Geiger
counter is a device for counting atomic particles.
- Joseph Ignace (1738-1814) was a French physician and a
revolutionary. He proposed to the Constituent Assembly, of which he was a
deputy, the use of decapitating instrument as means of execution. The
guillotine was adopted in 1791 and named after him.
- Charles Macintosh ((1766-1843), a British manufacturing
chemist, who in 1823 patented in Glasgow, a method of waterproofing
fabric, to which he gave his name. The technique involved the use of
rubber dissolved in a naphtha solution to cement two pieces of clothes.
Raincoats were often thereafter called Macintoshes.
- Samuel Morse ((1791-1872), an US artist and inventor who
developed a the magnetic telegraph which together with the Morse
code brought him honours and rewards after the opening of the
first telegraph line between Washington and Baltimore in 1844. Morse
code is a binary code for the transmission of verbal messages.
Each letter of the alphabet is assigned a distinctive combination of short
dots and long dashes. Thus a distress SOS call is rendered … – – – …
- Louis Pasteur (1822-95), a French chemist and microbiologist
who established that
Microorganisms caused putrefaction and fermentation. In a famous
experiment in 1881 he showed that sheep and cows ‘vaccinated’ with the
attenuated bacilli of anthrax received protection against the disease. Pasteurization,
a mild heat treatment used to kill microorganism in milk, is named
- John Montague Sandwich (1718-92), a British politician is
remembered as the inventor of sandwiches, which he devised
in order to eat while playing around the clock at a gaming table.
There are, of course, many more famous inventions named after their
inventors. There are many articles of clothing named after famous people e.g. bloomers
(named after the American women’s rights campaigner, Mrs. Amelia
Bloomer), leotards (named after the 19th century
French trapeze artist, Jules Leotard), Wellingtons (named after
General Wellington who won a victory under Waterloo) or ‘degolówka’ (a
cap worn by General Charles de Gaulle which became a favourite piece of
clothing for many thousands of Polish people after General’s visit to Poland in
the 60s) etc.
Sources: The Cambridge Encyclopedia, ed. David Crystal, 1990. CUP
and an article by Mark Shackleton published in 1979 in “Summer Special of Modern