Facts about inventors and their inventions from around the world.

Granville T. Woods

Woods invented many electrical and electromechanical devices related to railway technology and telecommunications systems. He also invented the egg incubator and improvements to inventions such as safety circuits, phonographs, telegraphs, and telephones. Altogether, he had approximately sixty patents to his credit. Born:April 23, 1856; Columbus, Ohio Died: January 30, 1910; New York, New York Also… read more »

An Wang

Wang invented the magnetic memory device that dominated the storage capacity of computers for twenty years, until the development of semiconductor technology. He became a major American entrepreneur in the area of calculators, word processors, and computers. Born:February 7, 1920; Shanghai, China Died:March 24, 1990; Boston, Massachusetts Primary fields:Computer science; physics Primary invention:Pulse transfer controlling… read more »

Taylor Gunjin Wang

Wang’s inventions moved from novel methods of acoustic manipulation of matter to the design of new encapsulations for cells used in bioengineering, with practical applications in the fight of diseases such as diabetes. His innovative design of drop dynamics experiments in zero gravity made him the first Chinese American astronaut. Born: June 16, 1940; Shanghai,… read more »

Felix Wankel

Wankel was an imaginative, self-trained engineer and inventor whose most memorable contribution was the development of the rotary engine that bears his name—the Wankel engine—and operates by using orbiting triangular rotors that function much as pistons do in conventional gas-powered engines. Born:August 13, 1902; Lahr, Germany Died:October 9, 1988; Lindau, West Germany (now in Germany)… read more »

Lewis Waterman

Waterman invented the first leak-proof fountain pen that could be relied on to perform properly. He founded the L. E. Waterman Company, which set the standard for quality pens and was instrumental in creating the market for fountain pens. Born:November 20, 1837; Decatur, New York Died:May 1, 1901; New York, New York Also known as:Lewis… read more »

Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt

Watson-Watt is often described as the “father of radar.” His experiments and research established the foundational physics of radar, while his administrative efforts and persuasiveness were instrumental in the development of a radar-based air defense system. While Watson-Watt’s work focused on the military applications of radar, the wartime development of miniaturized radar made possible the… read more »

James Watt

Watt’s improvements to existing steam engines, including the introduction of a separate condenser that allowed a faster rate of operation and a significant saving in fuel, revolutionized the mining and textile industries in England and the world in the late eighteenth and into the nineteenth century. Born: January 19, 1736; Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland Died:August 25,… read more »

George Westinghouse

Westinghouse’s invention of dependable braking systems for trains, controlled from the locomotive by the engineer or from railcars by conductors, brought him recognition and enormous wealth. Westinghouse received patents for 361 inventions during his career, and by the beginning of the twentieth century he had organized more than fifty companies, thirty of which he served… read more »

Don Wetzel

Wetzel conceptualized and helped design the first successful automated teller machine (ATM). Though other ATMs had been developed before the Wetzel ATM, he developed the management ideas that made the invention a success, showing banks how to generate a population of clients who used the machines. Born: 1928; New Orleans, Louisiana Also known as:Donald Claude… read more »