Inventions come in all shapes and sizes. Some, such as the wheel, the nail, the printing press, and the internet, have forever changed the world. Many others are seemingly small creations in comparison, but we’d nonetheless notice their absence. Imagine a world without sliced bread, buttons, toilet paper, or rubber bands.
Inventors deserve our thanks, not only for their innovations but also for inspiring us to think creatively and outside the box. Here are some wise quotes from inventors past and present, from Johannes Gutenberg and Leonardo da Vinci to Henry Ford and Steve Jobs.
A spring of truth shall flow from it: like a new star it shall scatter the darkness of ignorance, and cause a light heretofore unknown to shine amongst men.
— Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the movable type printing press, which revolutionized Europe in the mid-1400s
The water you touch in a river is the last of that which has passed, and the first of that which is coming. Thus it is with time present.
— Leonardo da Vinci, an all-around genius whose journals and codices include a vast number of inventions, from flying machines to armored fighting vehicles and hydraulic pumps
Hide not your talents, they for use were made. What’s a sun-dial in the shade!
— Benjamin Franklin, whose many inventions include the lightning rod, Franklin stove, and bifocal glasses
Look about you. Take hold of the things that are here. Let them talk to you. You learn to talk to them.
— George Washington Carver, an African American agricultural scientist and inventor who invented 300 uses for peanuts
The scientific man does not aim at an immediate result. He does not expect that his advanced ideas will be readily taken up. His work is like that of the planter — for the future. His duty is to lay the foundation for those who are to come, and point the way.
— Nikola Tesla, most famous for his alternating current induction motor and other innovations in electrical engineering
If we all did the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.
— Thomas Edison, the most prolific inventor in American history, whose many creations include early versions of the electric light bulb, the alkaline storage battery, and automatic telegraph
Don’t keep forever on the public road, going only where others have gone… Leave the beaten track occasionally and dive into the woods. Every time you do so you will be certain to find something that you have never seen before.
— Alexander Graham Bell, most famous as the inventor of the first practical telephone in 1876
The only true test of values, either of men or of things, is that of their ability to make the world a better place in which to live.
— Henry Ford, who developed the Model T automobile and revolutionized factory production with his assembly line methods
The world isn't getting any easier. With all these new inventions I believe that people are hurried more and pushed more… The hurried way is not the right way; you need time for everything — time to work, time to play, time to rest.
— Hedy Lamarr, film actress and inventor who developed a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes in WWII, the principles of which were later incorporated into Bluetooth and GPS technology
I tell young people to reach for the stars. And I can’t think of a greater high that you could possibly get than by inventing something.
— Stephanie Kwolek, who invented Kevlar in 1965
We work day after day, not to finish things, but to make the future better… because we will spend the rest of our lives there.
— Charles F. Kettering, an inventor and businessman who held 186 patents, including the electrical starting motor, leaded gasoline, and Freon refrigerant
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
— Steve Jobs, pioneer of the personal computer revolution
Half-formed ideas, they float around. They come from different places, and the mind has got this wonderful way of somehow just shoveling them around until one day they fit.
— Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web in 1989
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