18th Century Inventors & Discoverers

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 1 James Watt

James Watt.
Famous As: Inventor of Steam Engine
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 Samuel Morse

Samuel Morse.
Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: April 27, 1791
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Charlestown, Boston
Died: April 2, 1872
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 3 Count Alessandro Volta

Count Alessandro Volta.
Famous As: Physicist, Chemist
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.

 4 René Laennec

René Laennec.
Famous As: Inventor of Stethoscope
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 George Stephenson

George Stephenson.
Famous As: Father of Railways
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.

 6 Robert Fulton

Robert Fulton.
Famous As: American engineer & inventor
Birthdate: November 14, 1765
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Little Britain, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Died: February 24, 1815

 7 Eli Whitney

Eli Whitney.
Famous As: American inventor
Birthdate: December 8, 1765
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Westborough
Died: January 8, 1825
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 8 Nicéphore Niépce

Nicéphore Niépce.
Famous As: Creator of World's First Permanent Photographic Image
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.

 9 Charles Babbage

Charles Babbage.
Famous As: Father of the computer
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 Joseph Priestley

Joseph Priestley.
Famous As: Discoverer of Oxygen
Birthdate: March 24, 1733
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Birstall
Died: February 6, 1804

Best remembered for his contribution to the chemistry of gases, Joseph Priestley was an English scientist, clergyman, political theorist and educator, who has been credited with discovering oxygen independently, publishing his findings before Carl Wilhelm could. A prolific writer, he has authored 150 works on various subjects including electricity. He also contributed immensely to the advancement of political and religious thoughts.

 11 Humphry Davy

Humphry Davy.
Famous As: Inventor of Davy Lamp
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.

 12 Charles Macintosh

Charles Macintosh
Famous As: Chemist, Inventor
Birthdate: December 29, 1766
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glasgow
Died: July 25, 1843

 13 Richard Arkwright

Richard Arkwright.
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: December 23, 1732
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Preston, Lancashire
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.

 14 Richard Trevithick

Richard Trevithick.
Famous As: Pioneer of steam-powered road & rail transport
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 Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin.
Famous As: Founding Father of the United States
Birthdate: January 17, 1706
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Milk Street, 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.

 16 David Rittenhouse

David Rittenhouse
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: April 8, 1732
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paper Mill Run, 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.

 17 Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac

Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac.
Famous As: Chemist and Physicist
Birthdate: December 6, 1778
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat
Died: May 9, 1850

Known for his pathbreaking Gay-Lussac's Law, French chemist-physicist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac was also the first, along with his colleague Alexander von Humboldt, to discover that water is composed of one part of oxygen and two parts of hydrogen. His name is one of the 72 that adorn the Eiffel Tower.

 18 Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot

Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot
Famous As: combat engineer
Birthdate: February 26, 1725
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Lorraine
Died: October 2, 1804

 19 George Cayley

George Cayley
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: December 27, 1773
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Scarborough, England
Died: December 15, 1857

British engineer and inventor George Cayley was a pioneer of aeronautics and aviation. He designed the world’s first glider that could successfully carry a human being. He was also a prominent Whig and had contributed to the formation of what is now known as the University of Westminster.

 20 John Herschel

John Herschel
Famous As: Polymath
Birthdate: March 7, 1792
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Slough, Buckinghamshire, England
Died: May 11, 1871

The son of renowned astronomer William Herschel, John Herschel was educated at Eton and Cambridge and grew up to be a polymath. Apart from contributing to the field of photography, he was known for cataloguing and naming stars and satellites. He briefly also served as the Master of the Royal Mint.

 21 Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais

Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais
Famous As: Polymath
Birthdate: January 24, 1732
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 18, 1799

 22 James Hargreaves

James Hargreaves
Famous As: carpenter, inventor, engineer
Birthdate: 1720 AD
Birthplace: Blackburn
Died: April 22, 1778

 23 Peter Cooper

Peter Cooper.
Famous As: Industrialist & Inventors
Birthdate: February 12, 1791
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York City
Died: April 4, 1883

 24 Augustin-Jean Fresnel

Augustin-Jean Fresnel.
Famous As: Physicist
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

Jacques Charles
Famous As: Physicist, Chemist, Inventor, Balloonist, Mathematician
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 David Brewster

David Brewster
Famous As: Scientist
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. 

 27 Edmund Cartwright

Edmund Cartwright.
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: April 24, 1743
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nottinghamshire
Died: October 30, 1823

 28 John Loudon McAdam

John Loudon McAdam
Famous As: Civil engineer, Engineer
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.

 29 Walter Hunt

Walter Hunt
Famous As: inventor
Birthdate: July 29, 1796
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York
Died: June 8, 1859

 30 Claude Chappe

Claude Chappe
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: December 25, 1763
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Brûlon
Died: January 23, 1805

 31 Karl Drais

Karl Drais
Famous As: Inventor, Forester
Birthdate: April 29, 1785
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Karlsruhe
Died: December 10, 1851

 32 Nicolas Appert

Nicolas Appert
Famous As: confectioner, inventor
Birthdate: November 17, 1749
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Châlons-en-Champagne
Died: June 1, 1841

 33 Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
Famous As: Writer, Inventor, Novelist, Officer
Birthdate: October 18, 1741
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Amiens
Died: September 5, 1803

 34 Hennig Brand

Hennig Brand
Famous As: Merchant
Birthdate: 1630 AD
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: 1710 AD

 35 Jacques de Vaucanson

Jacques de Vaucanson
Famous As: Inventor, Engineer
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.    

 36 John Fitch

John Fitch
Famous As: inventor, watchmaker, engineer, entrepreneur
Birthdate: January 21, 1743
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Windsor
Died: July 2, 1798

 37 Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier

Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: January 6, 1745
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Annonay, France
Died: August 1, 1799

 38 Joseph Bramah

Joseph Bramah
Famous As: Civil engineer, Engineer
Birthdate: April 13, 1748
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Barnsley
Died: December 9, 1814

 39 Peter Mark Roget

Peter Mark Roget.
Famous As: Lexicographer
Birthdate: January 18, 1779
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Soho
Died: September 12, 1869

 40 John Wilkinson

John Wilkinson.
Famous As: Pioneer in cast iron manufacturing
Birthdate: 1728 AD
Birthplace: Bridgefoot
Died: July 14, 1808

 41 Oliver Evans

Oliver Evans
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: September 13, 1755
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Newport
Died: April 15, 1819

 42 Guillaume Amontons

Guillaume Amontons
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: August 31, 1663
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 11, 1705

 43 Wolfgang von Kempelen

Wolfgang von Kempelen
Famous As: Engineer, Writer, Painter, Playwright, Chess player, Architect
Birthdate: January 23, 1734
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Bratislava
Died: March 26, 1804

 44 Percivall Pott

Percivall Pott
Famous As: Surgeon
Birthdate: January 6, 1714
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London, England
Died: December 22, 1788

 45 William Sturgeon

William Sturgeon
Famous As: Physicist, Inventor
Birthdate: May 22, 1783
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Whittington
Died: December 4, 1850

William Sturgeon was an English physicist and inventor. He invented the first practical English electric motor and made the first electromagnets. A self-taught genius, he became a lecturer at the East India Company's Military Seminary at Addiscombe, Surrey. Along with John Peter Gassiot and Charles Vincent Walker, he was instrumental in founding the London Electrical Society in 1837. 

 46 Jean-Pierre Blanchard

Jean-Pierre Blanchard
Famous As: Inventor, Balloonist
Birthdate: July 4, 1753
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Les Andelys
Died: March 7, 1809

 47 André-Jacques Garnerin

André-Jacques Garnerin
Famous As: Inventor, Balloonist
Birthdate: January 31, 1769
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris
Died: August 18, 1823

 48 Henry Cort

Henry Cort
Famous As: Ironmaster
Birthdate: 1740 AD
Birthplace: Lancaster, England
Died: May 23, 1800

 49 Thomas Hancock

Thomas Hancock
Famous As: inventor, engineer
Birthdate: May 8, 1786
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Marlborough, Wiltshire
Died: March 26, 1865

 50 Nicolas-Jacques Conté

Nicolas-Jacques Conté
Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: August 4, 1755
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Aunou-sur-Orne, France
Died: December 6, 1805