Alexander Graham Bell was a scientist, inventor, and engineer. He is credited with inventing the first functional telephone. He is also credited with co-founding America's major telephone company AT&T, which has been going strong since 1885. Bell's later life was marked by his groundbreaking work in aeronautics, hydrofoils, and optical telecommunications. He was also an ardent supporter of compulsory sterilization.
Described as America’s greatest inventor, Thomas Edison’s legacy is an everlasting one. He was the first to help make the incandescent light bulb commercially viable, even though he was not the first inventor of it. Quadruplex telegraph, phonograph, motion picture camera and the alkaline storage battery are some the many innovations that made him a worldwide phenomenon and an icon.
Charles F. Kettering was an American engineer, inventor, and businessman. Kettering is credited with founding Delco Electronics Corporation. Holder of 186 patents, Kettering is also credited with the invention of Freon refrigerant for air conditioning and refrigeration systems. Over the course of his career, Charles F. Kettering won prestigious awards like the IEEE Edison Medal, Hoover Medal, and Franklin Medal.
Inventor, engineer and futurist, Nikola Tesla, is best remembered for his contribution to the development of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. A prolific inventor, he had around 300 patents for his inventions. Even though he earned a considerable amount of money, he had poor money management skills and died a poor man.
Scottish inventor, electrical engineer, and innovator, John Logie Baird, is best known for demonstrating a working TV system in 1926. He then went on to invent the first viable purely electronic color TV picture tube and founded the Baird Television Development Company. He was inducted into the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame in 2015.
Though German-born American mathematician and engineer Charles Proteus Steinmetz suffered from a deformed back since childhood, he excelled in math, physics, and classical literature. His ideas on alternating current (AC) systems initiated the electrical era in the US. By the time he died, he had over 200 patents under his name.
John Ambrose Fleming was an English electrical engineer and physicist. He is known for inventing the first thermionic valve or vacuum tube and designing the radio transmitter with which the first transatlantic radio transmission was made. Along with Douglas Dewar and Bernard Acworth, he helped establish the Evolution Protest Movement. Fleming was also a noted photographer and artist.
Harry Nyquist was a Swedish electronic engineer and physicist best remembered for his contributions to communication theory. His work earned him many prestigious awards such as the IRE Medal of Honor, the Stuart Ballantine Medal, and the Rufus Oldenburger Medal. Harry Nyquist is also remembered for his association with Bell Telephone Laboratories.
German-British inventor and electrical engineer, who revolutionized the steel-making and glass-making industries, is best remembered for using the Siemens-Martin process to create the regenerative furnace. His achievements earned him accolades such as the Albert Medal. He was a Fellow of The Royal Society and was knighted shortly before his death.
Elihu Thomson was an English-born American inventor and engineer. He is credited with founding major electrical companies in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1882, Elihu Thomson founded the Thomson-Houston Electric Company which was renamed General Electric Company in 1892 after merging with the Edison General Electric Company. Thomson is also credited with inventing an arc-lighting system.
Hertha Ayrton was a British engineer, physicist, mathematician, and inventor. She is remembered for her work on electric arcs and ripple marks in sand and water, for which she was awarded the Hughes Medal by the Royal Society. As a woman in the 19th century, she had to face innumerable struggles in her career. She was also a passionate suffragist.
Granville Woods was 10 when he began working at a machine shop, while continuing his studies at a night school. He grew up to become a steam locomotive engineer and earned the nickname the Black Edison for his countless inventions, most of which were related to electrical systems for railways.
Belgian electrical engineer Zénobe Gramme is remembered for inventing the Gramme machine. While he initially worked in an electrical industry factory in Paris, he later collaborated with French engineer Hippolyte Fontaine, to work on his dynamo model. His invention made use of much higher voltages than the standard dynamos back then.
Russian theologian Pavel Florensky is best remembered for his essay The Pillar and the Ground of Truth. During Stalin’s regime and amid a phase of national atheism, he was sent to jail and also banished to Siberia for his religious beliefs, which he refused to renounce.
Galileo Ferraris was an Italian university professor, physicist, and electrical engineer. He was one of the pioneers of AC power system. He is also credited to be the inventor of the three-phase induction motor although he never patented his work. He worked at the Italian Industrial Institution and later at the Italian Electrotechnical Association.
The son of a mechanical engineer, John Hopkinson followed in his father’s footsteps. Remembered for his research on alternating current, the British engineer and physicist developed the three-wire system for distributing electricity. He died in a mountaineering accident in the Alps, along with three of his six children.
Born into an affluent military family of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Herman Potočnik became a military engineer. His struggle with tuberculosis made him leave the army, after which he delved into rocket science. His only book, The Problem of Space Travel, contained illustrated descriptions on everything from space capsules to spacesuits.
Electrical engineer and inventor Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti was the son of a photographer father and a pianist mother. He had invented an arc light by 13 and an alternator at 18. He contributed to the development of the alternating current (AC) system in Britain and also promoted electrical generating plants.
In his 20s, Hungarian inventor Otto Blathy co-invented the transformer and various other engines and motors that are used in AC technology. In spite of being born into an affluent merchant family, he pursued science. Apart from his interest in electrical engineering, he was also known for authoring various chess problems.
Crompton & Co. founder Rookes Evelyn Bell Crompton was a skilled electrical engineer. After his military career in India, Crompton focused on inventions and developed arc lamps and other electrical equipment. It is believed his Porchester Gardens residence was the first private house to be completely lit by electricity.
After a 10-year stint as an engineer working to construct and install submarine telegraph cables, Fleeming Jenkin published reports establishing the ohm as the unit of electrical resistance. He is also remembered as the inventor of the cable car and taught at institutes such as the University of Edinburgh.
Ventilation, heating system, and air conditioning pioneer David Crosthwait was one of the first African-American men to excel in science. Throughout his illustrious career, he managed to gain 80 international patents. He later taught at Purdue University and was presented with an honorary doctorate by the same university.
Georges Leclanché was a 19th-century French electrical engineer who invented what became known as the Leclanché cell. His invention is considered the forerunner of the modern dry cell battery. He was educated at École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures and had a successful engineering career. He later founded the cells factory "Leclanché-Barbier" with Ernest Barbier.
Welsh inventor William Henry Preece spent his entire life working at the British Post Office, where he experimented on the post office telegraph system. He helped Guglielmo Marconi gain financial assistance and also developed the wireless telegraphy and the telephone system of Britain. He was knighted for his achievements.
Charles Tilston Bright began his career as a clerk at the Electric Telegraph Company. Later, as an engineer for the Magnetic Telegraph Company, he oversaw the laying of underground telegraph lines in the U.K., which motivated him to give shape to the world’s first transatlantic telegraph cable.
Belgian-born American electrical engineer and inventor Charles Joseph Van Depoele was responsible for pioneering inventions in electrical railway. From being a church furniture manufacturer, he went on to own patents for many inventions, including the world’s first trolley pole. He later sold all his patents to the Thomson-Houston Electric Company.
Best remembered as the inventor of the heliograph, which used sunlight and mirrors to send coded flashes, British engineer Henry Christopher Mance received a knighthood for his feats. As part of the Persian Gulf Telegraph Department, he oversaw the laying of the first submarine telegraph cables in the Persian Gulf.