Famous American Inventors & Discoverers

Man's quest for knowledge — to know the unknown and explore the undiscovered — has taken him places. Thanks to his insatiable appetite for wisdom and never-ending curiosity, today we know of things, places, and phenomenon erstwhile unknown to men. It is to this fine lot of inventors and discoverers that we owe our enlightenment to. Talking about pioneers, America has been lucky enough to home a world of famous inventors and discoverers who have staked claims to the loftiest discoveries and inventions of the land. From Alexander Graham Bell and George Eastman to Thomas Alva Edison and Henry Ford and from Neil Armstrong and Richard Byrd to William Clark and Matthew Henson, the world has seen, known and lauded a gamut of enterprising Americans who enlightened the world with their findings. It is because of them that the world is a much better place today. We look at the timeline, trivia, and interesting facts on some of the most famous American inventors and discoverers in the biographies below.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Orville Wright

Orville Wright
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Famous As: Co-inventor of First Successful Airplane
Birthdate: August 19, 1871
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American
Died: January 30, 1948

Orville Wright was an aviation pioneer who alongside his brother, Wilbur, built and flew the world's first successful motor-operated airplane, the Wright Flyer, a heavier-than-air aircraft. The three-axis control system developed by the brothers remains standard on fixed-wing aircraft of all kinds. Orville also served on the board of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA).

 2 George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver
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Famous As: Scientist & Inventor
Birthdate: January 1, 1864
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American
Died: January 5, 1943
Agricultural scientist George Washington Carver is best remembered for promoting crops that were alternative to cotton, such as peanuts and sweet potatoes. He invented ways to prevent soil depletion and developed scores of products made from peanuts, including paints and cosmetics. He won numerous honors, such as the Spingarn Medal.

 3 Raymond Kurzweil

Raymond  Kurzweil
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Famous As: Futurist, Entrepreneur, Inventor
Birthdate: February 12, 1948
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American

 4 Mike Lindell

Mike Lindell
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Famous As: Entrepreneur
Birthdate: June 28, 1961
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American

 5 Garrett Morgan

Garrett Morgan
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Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: March 4, 1877
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American
Died: July 27, 1963

 6 Les Paul

Les Paul
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Famous As: Guitarist, Banjoist, Inventor, Jazz musician, Jazz guitarist, Radio personality, Musical instrument maker
Birthdate: June 9, 1915
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American
Died: August 13, 2009

 7 Jack Parsons

Jack Parsons
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Famous As: Researcher
Birthdate: October 2, 1914
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
Died: June 17, 1952
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 8 John Harvey Kellogg

John Harvey Kellogg
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Famous As: Doctor, Inventor
Birthdate: February 26, 1852
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American
Died: December 14, 1943
Physician, nutritionist, and businessman John Harvey Kellogg served as the director of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, which was a combination of a European spa, a hydrotherapy center, a hospital, and a hotel. He believed in biologic living. However, he is best remembered as the inventor of corn flakes.

 9 Lewis Howard Latimer

Lewis Howard Latimer
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Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: September 4, 1848
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American
Died: December 11, 1928
Lewis Howard Latimer was born to former slaves and went on to become a skilled patent draftsman. He had worked with Alexander Graham Bell on the patent of his telephone, and with the Edison Electric Light Company. He had also invented a modification of the process of making carbon filaments. 

 10 Samuel Morse

Samuel Morse
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Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: April 27, 1791
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
Died: April 2, 1872

 11 Philo Farnsworth

Philo Farnsworth
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Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: August 19, 1906
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American
Died: March 11, 1971

 12 Martin Cooper

Martin Cooper
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Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: December 26, 1928
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American

 13 Dean Kamen

Dean Kamen
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Famous As: Inventor of Segway PT
Birthdate: April 5, 1951
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American

 14 George Westinghouse

George Westinghouse
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Famous As: Entrepreneur
Birthdate: October 6, 1846
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
Died: March 12, 1914

 15 Tom Scholz

Tom Scholz
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: March 10, 1947
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American

 16 P. G. T. Beauregard

P. G. T. Beauregard
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Famous As: Military personnel, Artilleryman, Inventor, Writer, Politician
Birthdate: May 28, 1818
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American
Died: February 20, 1893

 17 Paul Winchell

Paul Winchell
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Famous As: Actor, Inventor, Voice actor, Television actor
Birthdate: December 21, 1922
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American
Died: June 24, 2005

 18 William Shockley

William Shockley
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: February 13, 1910
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American
Died: August 12, 1989

 19 Willis Carrier

Willis Carrier
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Famous As: Engineer, Inventor
Birthdate: November 26, 1876
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American
Died: October 7, 1950

 20 Howard Hughes

Howard Hughes
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Famous As: Entrepreneur, Investor
Birthdate: December 24, 1905
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American
Died: April 5, 1976

A multi-talented personality, Howard Hughes was one of the richest person of his time. A business tycoon, he made big investments in films and aviation industry. Passionate about flying, he set numerous flying records, and also risked his own life in process. Howard Hughes who inherited his family business and became millionaire at the age of 18, was later on troubled with mental illness and turned recluse.

 21 George Eastman

George Eastman
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Famous As: Inventor of Roll Film
Birthdate: July 12, 1854
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American
Died: March 14, 1932

 22 Robert H. Goddard

Robert H. Goddard
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: October 5, 1882
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
Died: August 10, 1945

 23 Gummo Marx

Gummo Marx
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Famous As: Actor, Comedian, Inventor
Birthdate: October 23, 1892
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
Died: April 21, 1977

 24 Robert Fulton

Robert Fulton
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Famous As: American engineer & inventor
Birthdate: November 14, 1765
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
Died: February 24, 1815

 25 Royal Rife

Royal Rife
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Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: May 16, 1888
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
Died: August 5, 1971

 26 Mickey Thompson

Mickey Thompson
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Famous As: Inventor, Racing driver
Birthdate: December 7, 1928
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American
Died: March 16, 1988

 27 Lonnie Johnson

Lonnie Johnson
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Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: October 6, 1949
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American

 28 Robert Noyce

Robert Noyce
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Famous As: Co-inventor of the integrated circuit
Birthdate: December 12, 1927
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American
Died: June 3, 1990

 29 John McCarthy

John McCarthy
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Famous As: Mathematician, Computer scientist, Engineer, University teacher
Birthdate: September 4, 1927
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American
Died: October 24, 2011

 30 John Lilly

John Lilly
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Famous As: Neuroscientist
Birthdate: January 6, 1915
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American
Died: September 30, 2001

 31 Henry J. Heinz

Henry J. Heinz
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Famous As: Businessperson
Birthdate: October 11, 1844
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
Died: May 14, 1919

 32 Robert Kearns

Robert Kearns
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Famous As: Inventor, Engineer
Birthdate: March 10, 1927
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American
Died: February 9, 2005

 33 Sequoyah

Sequoyah
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Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: 1770 AD
Nationality: American
Died: July 31, 1843

 34 Leo Fender

Leo Fender
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Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: August 10, 1909
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American
Died: March 21, 1991

 35 Max Fleischer

Max Fleischer
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Famous As: Animator
Birthdate: July 19, 1883
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American
Died: September 25, 1972

 36 Moxie Marlinspike

Moxie Marlinspike
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Birthdate: 0000 AD
Nationality: American

 37 Ray Tomlinson

Ray Tomlinson
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Famous As: Inventor of the First Email System
Birthdate: April 23, 1941
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
Died: March 5, 2016

 38 Ruth Handler

Ruth Handler
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Famous As: Businesswoman
Birthdate: November 4, 1916
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
Died: April 27, 2002

 39 John Pemberton

John Pemberton
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Famous As: Pharmacist, Inventor, Chemist
Birthdate: July 8, 1831
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American
Died: August 16, 1888

 40 Hiram Bingham III

Hiram Bingham III
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Famous As: Academic, explorer and politician
Birthdate: November 19, 1875
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
Died: June 6, 1956

 41 Charles Goodyear

Charles Goodyear
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Famous As: Inventor, Chemist, Engineer
Birthdate: December 29, 1800
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American
Died: July 1, 1860

 42 Tony Fadell

Tony Fadell
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Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: March 22, 1969
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American

 43 Elisha Otis

Elisha Otis
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Famous As: Inventor, Technician
Birthdate: August 3, 1811
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American
Died: April 8, 1861

 44 Robert Moog

Robert Moog
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Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: May 23, 1934
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American
Died: August 21, 2005

 45 Herman Hollerith

Herman Hollerith
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Famous As: Father of modern automatic computation
Birthdate: February 29, 1860
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American
Died: November 17, 1929

 46 Theodore Miller Edison

Theodore Miller Edison
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Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: July 10, 1898
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American
Died: November 24, 1992

 47 Ruth Graves Wakefield

Ruth Graves Wakefield
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Famous As: Chef, Patent inventor, Teacher, Businessperson, Food critic, Dietitian
Birthdate: June 17, 1903
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American
Died: January 10, 1977

 48 Cyrus McCormick

Cyrus McCormick
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Famous As: Inventor of mechanical reaper
Birthdate: February 15, 1809
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American
Died: May 13, 1884

 49 Christopher Latham Sholes

Christopher Latham Sholes
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Famous As: Inventor of the QWERTY Keyboard
Birthdate: February 14, 1819
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American
Died: February 17, 1890

 50 Malcom McLean

Malcom McLean
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Famous As: Shipowner
Birthdate: November 14, 1913
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
Died: May 25, 2001