History is a funny thing. Over thousands of years of human civilization has been documented, yet it is often only based on someone’s perception of how events transpired. There is a famous quote by Winston Churchill — “History is written by the victors” — which is not entirely wrong. That can be seen clearly in how inventions of the past have been attributed, sometimes incorrectly, to someone who was more famous. Today, we’re going to take a look at five of the inventions most commonly attributed to someone else. To protect your intellectual property, it’s vital you patent it. For assistance through the patent process, call Glober Design.
While it is true that Henry Ford produced the first widely available automobile with his Ford Model T, he has been incorrectly credited as the inventor by many people. In actuality, work on the first automobile began in Germany in the latter part of the 1800s. Several German engineers were developing the automobile, including Gottlieb Daimler, Wilhelm Maybach, and Siegfried Marcus, though most people agree that the true inventor of the modern automobile is Karl Benz. Benz was granted a patent for his own automobile in 1886, which was powered by a four-stroke cycle gasoline engine. Ford would not create his own self-propelled automobile for another ten years.
Although Thomas Edison’s fluoroscope became the most widely used device for taking x-rays at the turn of the century, it was built off of the discovery made by Wilhelm Röntgen in 1895. Röntgen, a German physics professor, noticed that a picture of his wife’s hand appeared on a photographic plate, which was formed thanks to the x-rays he was experimenting with at the time. His contribution to the field was so impactful that some call x-rays “Röntgen rays.”
Another invention wrongly credited to Thomas Edison, the first moving picture was recorded by a French inventor by the name of Louis Le Prince. The clip (which can be found here) was recorded at 12 frames per second and only lasts a few seconds in total. Setting the scene in Roundhay, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England in October of 1888, it is the oldest glimpse into the past of people in motion outside of rudimentary zoetropes. While this is historically significant, it also carries something of a sordid history. Of the people shown in the short clip, one died a mere ten days after filming, Le Prince himself mysteriously disappeared two years later, and two years after that Le Prince’s son was killed by a gunshot in New York after testifying in a patent trial against none other than Thomas Edison.
Completing our Edison trifecta, we come to the lightbulb, which is often considered Edison’s biggest accomplishment. While Edison did indeed invent the first commercially practical incandescent lamp in 1879, you have to go back much further to find the true creation of the lightbulb in its infancy. Over 75 years prior, in 1802, Humphry Davy had developed what was, at the time, the most powerful electrical battery in the world. That same year, he invented the first ever incandescent light, which passed current through a thin strip of platinum, which was selected thanks to its high melting point. While it was shown to be possible, its design wasn’t bright or long lasting enough to be truly practical. It set the precedent that Edison would follow so many years later.
The oldest of the inventions we’re discussing today has likewise been incorrectly attributed for many years. If you ask many people on the street who invented the telescope, you will hear them proudly say Galileo, but they would be wrong. In fact, the earliest known working telescope dates back to 1608 and is credited to Hans Lippershey. Galileo did indeed develop an improved telescope a year later, which could magnify images up to three times. While Galileo would continue to create improved designs for many years, his work was based off the foundation laid by Lippershey.
As an inventor, it is incredibly important for you to take the proper steps so your idea is protected and not stolen by someone else. The patent process is in place for this reason, but it can be difficult to navigate that process if you’re unfamiliar with it. If you would like assistance in filing a patent application for your creation, call Glober Design today.