18th Century Inventors & Discoverers

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 1 
James Watt
(Inventor of Steam Engine)
James Watt
9
Birthdate: January 19, 1736
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland
Died: August 25, 1819
Eighteenth-century Scottish inventor James Watt developed the Newcomen steam engine, by inventing the Watt steam engine, which brough about the Industrial Revolution in Britain and the world. He also co-owned the firm Boulton and Watt and laid down concepts such as horsepower and the watt, the SI unit of power.
 2 
Count Alessandro Volta
(Physicist, Chemist)
Count Alessandro Volta
4
Birthdate: February 18, 1745
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Como, Duchy of Milan, Italy
Died: March 5, 1827
While Alessandro Volta was a count by birth and was supposed to become a lawyer or a priest, he became a scientist instead. His invention of the battery led to the SI unit of electric potential being named volt. He was also the first to isolate methane gas.
 3 
George Stephenson
(Father of Railways)
George Stephenson
4
Birthdate: June 9, 1781
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wylam
Died: August 12, 1848

George Stephenson was a British mechanical and civil engineer. Stephenson is credited with pioneering rail transport which is widely regarded as one of the most prominent inventions of the 19th century. Regarded as the Father of Railways, George Stephenson is also credited with developing the standard rail gauge which is used by several railways around the world.

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 4 
René Laennec
(Inventor of Stethoscope)
René Laennec
5
Birthdate: February 17, 1781
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Quimper, France
Died: August 13, 1826
Unlike most doctors, French physician René Laennec was also a skilled musician. It was while making his own wooden flutes that he invented the stethoscope, which helped doctors examine the chest cavity through auditory cues. His research also included work on melanoma, cirrhosis, and tuberculosis. He was a dedicated Catholic.
 5 
Robert Fulton
(American engineer & inventor)
Robert Fulton
5
Birthdate: November 14, 1765
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Little Britain, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Died: February 24, 1815
 6 
Nicéphore Niépce
(Creator of World's First Permanent Photographic Image)
Nicéphore Niépce
3
Birthdate: March 7, 1765
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chalon-sur-Saône
Died: July 5, 1833

Nicéphore Niépce revolutionized science by inventing heliography and made the first permanent photographic image. He had initially been part of Napoleon’s army but had to quit due to his failing health. The Niépce Prize is awarded to a photographer every year in France, in his honor.

 7 
Eli Whitney
(American inventor)
Eli Whitney
11
Birthdate: December 8, 1765
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Westborough
Died: January 8, 1825
 8 
Benjamin Franklin
(One of the Founding Fathers of the United States)
Benjamin Franklin
4
Birthdate: January 17, 1706
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: April 17, 1790

Benjamin Franklin is considered one of the founding fathers of the United States as he was a signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He was a writer, politician, scientist, inventor, civic activist, an accomplished diplomat and much more. He is a key figure in the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity.

 9 
Charles Babbage
(Father of the computer)
Charles Babbage
4
Birthdate: December 26, 1791
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London, England
Died: October 18, 1871
Charles Babbage, or the “father of the computer,” invented the prototype of the world’s first mechanical calculator, the Difference Engine. With the help of mathematician Ada Lovelace, he also created the Analytical Engine, the first general-purpose computer and a precursor of the modern computer, with its looping and sequential mechanism.
 10 
William Murdoch
(Engineer)
William Murdoch
4
Birthdate: August 21, 1754
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lugar, Scotland
Died: November 15, 1839

Scottish engineer William Murdoch initially worked for the firm of Matthew Boulton and James Watt. He later made a host of inventions and was the first to use coal gas for illumination. He was also known for his work on steam energy and invented the oscillating engine and the D slide valve.

Joseph-Michel Montgolfier
3
Birthdate: August 26, 1740
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Annonay, France
Died: June 26, 1810

Joseph-Michel Montgolfier was a French aviation pioneer and balloonist. Along with his brother Jacques-Étienne, he invented the Montgolfière-style hot air balloon and launched the first confirmed piloted ascent by man in 1783. The first ascent carried Jacques-Étienne. The innovative brothers also invented a process to manufacture transparent paper. Joseph invented the self-acting hydraulic ram as well. 

 12 
Charles Macintosh
(Chemist, Inventor)
Charles Macintosh
4
Birthdate: December 29, 1766
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glasgow
Died: July 25, 1843
 13 
Joseph Marie Jacquard
3
Birthdate: July 7, 1752
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lyon, France
Died: August 7, 1834
 14 
Richard Trevithick
(Pioneer of steam-powered road & rail transport)
Richard Trevithick
3
Birthdate: April 13, 1771
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Tregajorran, Cornwall, England
Died: April 22, 1833

Richard Trevithick was a British mining engineer and inventor. A pioneer of rail transport and steam-powered vehicles, Trevithick is credited with developing the first working railway steam locomotive and the first high-pressure steam engine. He was a highly respected figure in the fields of engineering and mining during the peak of his career.

 15 
Richard Arkwright
3
Birthdate: December 23, 1732
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Preston, Lancashire, England
Died: August 3, 1792

Initially a wig-maker, Richard Arkwright later grew an interest in the spinning mechanism, building the Arkwright’s water frame, which used water power to produce cotton yarn. He soon became a name to reckon with in the textile industry, with many mills to his name. He was knighted for his feats.

 16 
Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit
(Physicist, Inventor)
Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit
3
Birthdate: May 24, 1686
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Gdańsk
Died: September 16, 1736

Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit was a scientific instrument maker, inventor, and physicist. One of the most prominent and influential personalities of the Dutch Golden Age of science and technology, Fahrenheit is credited with many important inventions, including the mercury-in-glass thermometer and Fahrenheit scale. His inventions helped shape the history of thermometry. 

 17 
Mikhail Lomonosov
(Russian Author and Scientist Who Discovered the ‘Atmosphere of Venus’ and the ‘Law of Conservation of Mass’)
Mikhail Lomonosov
3
Birthdate: November 19, 1711
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lomonossowo, Russia
Died: April 15, 1765

Russian polymath Mikhail Lomonosov was born to a fisherman father and left his village later to satiate his hunger for knowledge. Apart from reforming Russian language and literature, he also made the first colored glass mosaic in his country and discovered the atmosphere of Venus. He loved simple life.

 18 
Humphry Davy
(Inventor of Davy Lamp)
Humphry Davy
5
Birthdate: December 17, 1778
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Penzance, England
Died: May 29, 1829

Best remembered for his invention of the Davy lamp, a safety lamp for miners, Humphry Davy initially aspired to be a doctor but later deviated to chemistry. The Copley Medal winner had co-founded the Zoological Society of London. He also excelled in writing poetry and loved fishing.

 19 
David Rittenhouse
(American Astronomer, Inventor, Clockmaker and Mathematician)
David Rittenhouse
3
Birthdate: April 8, 1732
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: June 26, 1796

American astronomer, inventor, mathematician, clockmaker and surveyor David Rittenhouse, who served as first director of the United States Mint and remained a  member of the American Philosophical Society, made several significant breakthroughs for the US. His achievements include discovering the atmosphere of Venus and observing its transit, becoming the first American to sight Uranus, and completing an advanced orrery.

 20 
Peter Cooper
(Industrialist & Inventors)
Peter Cooper
3
Birthdate: February 12, 1791
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York City
Died: April 4, 1883
 21 
Henry Shrapnel
(Inventor)
Henry Shrapnel
3
Birthdate: June 3, 1761
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bradford-on-Avon, England
Died: March 13, 1842
 22 
Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot
(combat engineer)
Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot
4
Birthdate: February 26, 1725
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Lorraine
Died: October 2, 1804

Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot was a French inventor best remembered for building the Fardier à vapeur, the world's first automobile. Fardier à vapeur was the first working self-propelled mechanical land-vehicle. Built in 1769, the vehicle accidentally knocked down a stone or brick wall in 1771, an incident which is widely regarded as the first known automobile accident in the world.

 23 
Rowland Hill
(Teacher)
Rowland Hill
2
Birthdate: December 3, 1795
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kidderminster, England
Died: August 27, 1879

Born to a schoolmaster, Rowland Hill followed in his father’s footsteps to become a teacher and explored subjects such as astronomy and math. He is, however, best remembered for his reform of the postal system, including increasing the speed of letter transfer and introducing the prototype of the postage stamp.  

 24 
Augustin-Jean Fresnel
3
Birthdate: May 10, 1788
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Broglie (Eure)
Died: July 14, 1827

Augustin-Jean Fresne, best remembered for his pioneering research on the wave theory of light, was a sickly child and was mostly homeschooled in his early days. The French physicist was a civil engineer, too. Unfortunately, most of his scientific work failed to receive public attention during his lifetime.

 25 
Jacques Charles
(Physicist, Chemist, Inventor, Balloonist, Mathematician)
Jacques Charles
3
Birthdate: November 12, 1746
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Beaugency
Died: April 7, 1823

Best known for developing the Charles’s law, which explains the expansion of gases when heated, Jacques Charles was a prominent French physicist. He was the first to ascend in a hydrogen-filled gas balloon, thus pioneering hot-air balloon flight. The Académie des Sciences member later became a professor of physics.

 26 
James Hargreaves
(Weaver, carpenter and inventor who was was one of three men responsible for the mechanisation of spinning)
James Hargreaves
3
Birthdate: December 13, 1720
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, England
Died: April 22, 1778
 27 
David Brewster
(Scientist)
David Brewster
3
Birthdate: December 11, 1781
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Jedburgh, Scotland
Died: February 10, 1868

David Brewster was a British scientist, inventor, and author. He conducted many experiments in physical optics, especially concerned with the study of the polarization of light. Fellow scientist William Whewell dubbed him the "father of modern experimental optics." He was also a pioneer in photography and invented an improved stereoscope. He wrote numerous works of popular science as well. 

 28 
Matthias W. Baldwin
3
Birthdate: December 10, 1795
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Elizabethtown, New Jersey, United States
Died: September 7, 1866
 29 
Edmund Cartwright
3
Birthdate: April 24, 1743
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nottinghamshire
Died: October 30, 1823
 30 
Benjamin Thompson
(Physicist and Inventor)
Benjamin Thompson
3
Birthdate: March 26, 1753
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Woburn, Massachusetts, United States
Died: August 21, 1814
 31 
John Loudon McAdam
(Civil engineer, Engineer)
John Loudon McAdam
3
Birthdate: September 21, 1756
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Ayr, Scotland
Died: November 26, 1836

Scottish engineer John Loudon McAdam introduced the world to the macadam road surface, which was more economical and effective than all previous road-construction methods. He suggested that roads should be constructed at an elevated level for better drainage. He also became Britain’s Surveyor-General of Metropolitan Roads.

 32 
Hans Egede
(Former missionary who launched mission efforts to Greenland, which led him to be styled the Apostle of Greenland, founded Greenland's capital Godthåb, now known as Nuuk)
Hans Egede
3
Birthdate: January 31, 1686
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Harstad, Norway
Died: November 5, 1758
 33 
Karl Drais
(Inventor, Forester)
Karl Drais
3
Birthdate: April 29, 1785
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Karlsruhe
Died: December 10, 1851
 34 
Walter Hunt
(inventor)
Walter Hunt
3
Birthdate: July 29, 1796
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York
Died: June 8, 1859
 35 
Nicolas Appert
(confectioner, inventor)
Nicolas Appert
3
Birthdate: November 17, 1749
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Châlons-en-Champagne
Died: June 1, 1841
 36 
Claude Chappe
(Inventor)
Claude Chappe
3
Birthdate: December 25, 1763
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Brûlon, Sarthe, France
Died: January 23, 1805
 37 
Samuel Crompton
(Inventor)
Samuel Crompton
3
Birthdate: December 3, 1753
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Firwood, England
Died: June 26, 1827
Sir William Congreve, 2nd Baronet
1
Birthdate: May 20, 1772
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Died: May 16, 1828
 39 
Hennig Brand
(Merchant)
Hennig Brand
3
Birthdate: 1630 AD
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: 1710 AD

Apart from being an army officer and a physician, Hennig Brand was also an alchemist who was constantly looking for the mythical philosopher’s stone. His research led him to discover phosphorus by accident, which he kept a secret, though it was later formally discovered by Robert Boyle from England.

 40 
Jacques de Vaucanson
(Inventor, Engineer)
Jacques de Vaucanson
2
Birthdate: February 24, 1709
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Grenoble
Died: November 21, 1782

Jacques de Vaucanson was a French artist and inventor. He is credited with creating impressive and innovative automata. De Vaucanson was also the first inventor to design an automatic loom. His ideas for the automation of the weaving process were later perfected by Joseph Marie Jacquard, who created the Jacquard machine.    

 41 
Joseph Bramah
(Civil engineer, Engineer)
Joseph Bramah
2
Birthdate: April 13, 1748
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Barnsley
Died: December 9, 1814

Joseph Bramah started his career as a cabinet maker and over time, revolutionized the lock-making industry with his pick-proof locks. Along with blacksmith Henry Maudslay, he changed the course of 19th-century British manufacturing. Best known for his hydraulic press, he also built water closets in Queen Victoria’s home.

 42 
Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
(Former Writer best known for writing the epistolary novel Les Liaisons dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons) (1782))
Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
3
Birthdate: October 18, 1741
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Amiens, France
Died: September 5, 1803
 43 
Peter Mark Roget
(Lexicographer)
Peter Mark Roget
2
Birthdate: January 18, 1779
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Soho
Died: September 12, 1869
 44 
John Fitch
(inventor, watchmaker, engineer, entrepreneur)
John Fitch
2
Birthdate: January 21, 1743
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Windsor
Died: July 2, 1798
 45 
John Wilkinson
(Pioneer in cast iron manufacturing)
John Wilkinson
3
Birthdate: 1728 AD
Birthplace: Bridgefoot
Died: July 14, 1808
Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier
2
Birthdate: January 6, 1745
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Annonay, France
Died: August 1, 1799
 47 
Henry Maudslay
(English Machine Tool Innovator, Tool and Die Maker Who is Considered a Founding Father of Machine Tool Technology)
Henry Maudslay
3
Birthdate: August 22, 1771
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Woolwich, London, England
Died: February 14, 1831

While he initially apprenticed under a lock maker, he later joined the factory of Sir Marc Isambard Brunel, where he invented scores of machines, the most notable of them being the metal lathe. He also developed plane surfaces to aid his workmen at his factory. He was married to inventor Joseph Bramah's housemaid.

 48 
Oliver Evans
(Inventor)
Oliver Evans
3
Birthdate: September 13, 1755
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Newport
Died: April 15, 1819
 49 
David Bushnell
(Inventor)
David Bushnell
2
Birthdate: August 30, 1740
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Connecticut, United States
Died: 1824 AD
 50 
Wolfgang von Kempelen
(Author and inventor, known for his chess-playing "automaton" hoax The Turk and for his speaking machine)
Wolfgang von Kempelen
2
Birthdate: January 23, 1734
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Bratislava, Slovakia
Died: March 26, 1804

Known as an eccentric thinker, Wolfgang von Kempelen is best remembered for his automatic chess-playing machine The Turk and his speaking machine. The Turk eventually turned out to be a hoax, designed by Kempelen to impress Maria Theresa, the Austrian Empress, and had human chess players operating it.