Humans aren’t the only creatures on our planet that possess the gift of invention. Some species of crows have been making simple tools, such as hooks, since long before we walked the earth. And species that existed before the emergence of Homo sapiens used stone tools, spears, and learned how to control fire. But of the estimated 8.7 million species on our planet today — the vast majority of which are animals — none have demonstrated the same spirit of invention as human beings.
The wheel is a classic example of human innovation, first used around 3500 B.C. in the potter’s wheel, and a few hundred years later in chariots. But long before the wheel, we had already invented sewing needles, woven cloth, basket weaving, rope, kilns, seawalls, boats, dental drills, and the flute.
From there, people just kept on inventing, changing the world and the way we live with each momentous step. The printing press, light bulbs, clocks, and telephones; vaccines, automobiles, airplanes, the personal computer, and the internet. Famous names were etched into the history books: Archimedes, Da Vinci, Edison, Curie, Marconi, to name just a few. And today, human innovation shows no signs of slowing down, as the inventors of the present push forward with the same spirit shown by the great experimenters of the past. Here, some of these famous names share what drives them to create and innovate, despite the odds they often work against.
The knowledge of all things is possible.
– Leonardo da Vinci
As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.
– Benjamin Franklin inventor of lightning rod, bifocals, and more
When I have fully decided that a result is worth getting I go ahead of it and make trial after trial until it comes.
– Thomas Edison
To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.
– Thomas Edison
The progressive development of man is vitally dependent on invention. It is the most important product of his creative brain. Its ultimate purpose is the complete mastery of mind over the material world, the harnessing of the forces of nature to human needs. This is the difficult task of the inventor who is often misunderstood and unrewarded.
– Nikola Tesla
I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything.
– Nikola Tesla
The inventor looks upon the world and is not contented with things as they are. He wants to improve whatever he sees, he wants to benefit the world; he is haunted by an idea. The spirit of invention possesses him, seeking materialization.
– Alexander Graham Bell
If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance.
– Orville Wright
An inventor fails 999 times, and if he succeeds once, he's in. He treats his failures simply as practice shots.
– Charles Kettering, inventor of the electrical starting motor and leaded gasoline
Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won.
– Ayn Rand
Believe in the power of truth... Do not allow your mind to be imprisoned by majority thinking. Remember that the limits of science are not the limits of imagination.
– Dr. Patricia E. Bath, inventor of laser cataract surgery
If it's a good idea, go ahead and do it. It's much easier to apologize than it is to get permission.
– Grace Hopper, pioneer of computer programming and inventor of one of the first linker computer systems
I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right. There were 5,126 failures. But I learned from each one. That’s how I came up with a solution. So I don’t mind failure. I’ve always thought that schoolchildren should be marked by the number of failures they’ve had. The child who tries strange things and experiences lots of failures to get there is probably more creative.
– Sir James Dyson, inventor of the Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner
Let’s go invent tomorrow rather than worrying about what happened yesterday.
– Steve Jobs
The invention is by its very nature disruptive. If you want to be understood at all times, then don't do anything new.
– Jeff Bezos
When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.
– Elon Musk
I guess that's just the life of an inventor: what people do with your ideas takes you totally by surprise.
– Stephanie Kwolek, inventor of Kevlar
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