Famous French Inventors & Discoverers

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 1 
Louis Braille
(Inventor of Braille)
Louis Braille
15
Birthdate: January 4, 1809
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Coupvray
Died: January 6, 1852
A 3-year-old Louis Braille accidentally injured himself in the eye while playing with a tool at his father’s harness shop. While the child lost his eyesight, his relentless spirit made him create a unique system made of dots and dashes, now known as the Braille, to help the blind read.
 2 
Rudolf Diesel
(Inventor of Diesel Engine)
Rudolf Diesel
7
Birthdate: March 18, 1858
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 29, 1913

Rudolf Diesel was a German mechanical engineer and inventor best remembered for inventing the Diesel engine. After Diesel's demise, his engine became an important substitution for the steam piston engine. The engine became widespread in applications, such as agricultural machines, submarines, ships, and trucks. His life inspired the 1942 biographical film Diesel, in which he was played by Willy Birgel.

 3 
René Laennec
(Inventor of Stethoscope)
René Laennec
8
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.
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 4 
Louis Le Prince
(French Inventor Who Was the First Person to Shoot a Moving Picture Sequence Using a Single Lens Camera)
Louis Le Prince
4
Birthdate: August 28, 1841
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Metz, France
Died: September 16, 1890

Louis Le Prince was a French inventor and artist. He is credited with inventing an early motion-picture camera and is often referred to as the Father of Cinematography. However, Louis Le Prince's work failed to influence the commercial development of motion picture because of the secrecy surrounding his invention.

 5 
Joseph Marie Jacquard
(Inventor)
Joseph Marie Jacquard
4
Birthdate: July 7, 1752
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lyon, France
Died: August 7, 1834
 6 
Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot
(combat engineer)
Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot
6
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.

 7 
Louis Blériot
(Aviator, Engineer, Inventor, Aerospace engineer)
Louis Blériot
5
Birthdate: July 1, 1872
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cambrai
Died: August 2, 1936

Louis Blériot was a French aviator, engineer, and inventor. He is credited with developing the first workable headlamp for cars. He is also credited with making the first working, piloted monoplane. Blériot achieved worldwide fame in 1909 when he became the first person to fly across the English Channel. Louis Blériot also founded the successful aircraft manufacturing company, Blériot Aéronautique.

 8 
Augustin-Jean Fresnel
4
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.

 9 
Jacques Charles
(Physicist, Chemist, Inventor, Balloonist, Mathematician)
Jacques Charles
4
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.

 10 
Franz Reichelt
(Parachuting pioneer)
Franz Reichelt
0
Birthdate: October 16, 1879
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Štětí, Czechia
Died: February 4, 1912
 11 
Louis Lumière
(Inventor of Cinematographer)
Louis Lumière
2
Birthdate: October 5, 1864
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Besançon, France
Died: June 6, 1948
While Thomas Edison was the first to invent motion pictures for solo viewing, the shares experience of watching a film with others, or cinema, was the brainchild of Louis Lumière. With his cinematograph, Lumière shot the first commercial film, a clip of workers leaving the Lumière photo factory. 
 12 
Étienne Lenoir
(Inventor, Engineer)
Étienne Lenoir
2
Birthdate: January 12, 1822
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Luxembourg
Died: August 4, 1900

Étienne Lenoir was a Belgian-French engineer. He is credited with developing the internal combustion engine which was commercialized in sufficient quantities. Lenoir is also credited with inventing such electrical devices as an improved electric telegraph which played a key role during the Franco-Prussian War. 

 13 
Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville
(French Bookseller, Printer, and Inventor)
Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville
3
Birthdate: April 25, 1817
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris
Died: April 26, 1879
 14 
Nicolas Appert
(French Confectioner and Inventor)
Nicolas Appert
3
Birthdate: November 17, 1749
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Châlons-en-Champagne, France
Died: June 1, 1841
 15 
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.    

 16 
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
 17 
Georges Leclanché
(French Electrical Engineer Famous for His Invention of the 'Leclanché Cell')
Georges Leclanché
1
Birthdate: October 9, 1839
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Parmain, France
Died: September 14, 1882

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. 

 18 
Claude Chappe
(Inventor)
Claude Chappe
3
Birthdate: December 25, 1763
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Brûlon, Sarthe, France
Died: January 23, 1805
 19 
Auguste Lumière
2
Birthdate: October 19, 1862
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Besançon, France
Died: April 10, 1954

Auguste Lumière was a French engineer, illusionist, industrialist, and biologist. Alongside his brother Louis Jean Lumière, Auguste is credited with inventing a projection device and animated photographic camera called the cinematograph, which attracted worldwide acclaim. He is also remembered for his innovations in military aircraft and his pioneering work in the use of X-rays.

 20 
Jean-Pierre Blanchard
(Inventor, Balloonist)
Jean-Pierre Blanchard
2
Birthdate: July 4, 1753
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Les Andelys
Died: March 7, 1809
 21 
Guillaume Amontons
(Physicist)
Guillaume Amontons
2
Birthdate: August 31, 1663
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 11, 1705
 22 
Georges Claude
(French Engineer and Inventor)
Georges Claude
2
Birthdate: September 24, 1870
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 23, 1960

French engineer and inventor Georges Claude was often referred as the Edison of France. He is most noted for inventing and commercializing neon lighting and having a near monopoly on the new technology, for conducting an experiment to generate thermal energy of the ocean and building the first Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) plant, and for the Claude cycle.  

 23 
Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier
(Inventor)
Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier
2
Birthdate: January 6, 1745
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Annonay, France
Died: August 1, 1799
 24 
Pierre Vernier
(Mathematician)
Pierre Vernier
3
Birthdate: August 19, 1580
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Ornans, France
Died: September 14, 1637
 25 
André-Jacques Garnerin
(Inventor, Balloonist)
André-Jacques Garnerin
2
Birthdate: January 31, 1769
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris
Died: August 18, 1823
 26 
Nicolas-Jacques Conté
(Painter)
Nicolas-Jacques Conté
2
Birthdate: August 4, 1755
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Aunou-sur-Orne, France
Died: December 6, 1805
 27 
Émile Baudot
(French Telegraph Engineer and Inventor of the First Means of Digital Communication Baudot Code)
Émile Baudot
2
Birthdate: September 11, 1845
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Magneux, France
Died: March 28, 1903
French telegraph engineer Émile Baudot was the inventor of Baudot code which was the first means of digital communication. One of the pioneers of telecommunications, Baudot invented a multiplexed printing telegraph system that used his code and allowed multiple transmissions over a single line. The symbol rate measurement is known as baudOffsite Link in Baudot's honor.
 28 
Louis-Sébastien Lenormand
(Chemist)
Louis-Sébastien Lenormand
1
Birthdate: May 25, 1757
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Montpellier, France
Died: April 4, 1837
 29 
Joseph Monier
(Gardener)
Joseph Monier
2
Birthdate: November 8, 1823
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie, France
Died: March 13, 1906
 30 
Paul Cornu
(French Engineer Known for Designing the World’s First Successful Manned 'Rotary Wing Aircraft')
Paul Cornu
1
Birthdate: June 15, 1881
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Glos-la-Ferrière, La Ferté-en-Ouche, France
Died: June 6, 1944
French engineer Paul Cornu designed and built the first helicopter to perform a manned free flight. His twin-rotor craft, powered by a 24-horsepower engine, flew briefly at Coquainvilliers in 1907.  Cornu's performance was a considerable progress as his aircraft flew without additional support. Even though his name was written in aviation history, Cornu’s design proved impractical and soon was abandoned.
 31 
Leo Valentin
(French Adventurer Who Made the First Attempt to Fly Using Wooden Wings)
Leo Valentin
0
Birthdate: March 22, 1919
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Épinal, France
Died: May 20, 1956

Birdman Leo Valentin was a French adventurer who became the first person to fly with wooden wings attached to his arms, back in the 1950s. He began his career as a parachute instructor with the French army. He died due to a failed flying stunt during an air show in Liverpool.

 32 
Alphonse Pénaud
(French Designer Known for Creating the First Successful Flying Model, Known as the 'Planophore')
Alphonse Pénaud
1
Birthdate: May 31, 1850
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 22, 1880
Alphonse Pénaud, the 19th-century French pioneer of aviation design and engineering, was the originator of the use of twisted rubber to power model aircraft. He created a model airplane called the Planophore which had the first aerodynamically stable flying model in 1871. Pénaud died by suicide amid public ridicule of his ideas and failure to find financial support for research.
 33 
Charles Cros
(Poet)
Charles Cros
2
Birthdate: October 1, 1842
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Aude, France
Died: August 9, 1888
 34 
Gaston Planté
(Physicist)
Gaston Planté
4
Birthdate: April 22, 1834
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Orthez, France
Died: May 21, 1889
 35 
Alexandre Alexeieff
(Artist)
Alexandre Alexeieff
1
Birthdate: April 18, 1901
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kazan, Russia
Died: August 9, 1982

Alexandre Alexeieff was a Russian Empire-born French filmmaker, artist, and illustrator. Alexeieff and his wife Claire Parker are credited with inventing an animation technique called totalization as well as the pinscreen animation. His life and career have inspired a couple of documentary films, namely Alexeieff at the Pinboard, Portrait of Alexeieff, and Dreams about Alfeoni.

 36 
Bernard Courtois
(French Chemist Known for First Isolating 'Iodine')
Bernard Courtois
2
Birthdate: February 8, 1777
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Dijon, France
Died: September 27, 1838

Bernard Courtois was a French chemist. He is credited with isolating iodine and morphine. Interested in chemistry from a young age, he learned how to make potassium nitrate for gunpowder for the French Revolution. He later found work at the École Polytechnique in Paris. Later in life, he went into manufacturing high-quality iodine and its salts. 

 37 
Léon Gaumont
(Pioneer of the Moving Picture Industry)
Léon Gaumont
0
Birthdate: May 10, 1864
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: August 10, 1946

Léon Gaumont was a French engineer, inventor, and industrialist. A pioneer of the moving picture industry, Gaumont is credited with founding Gaumont Film Company, the first and oldest film studio in the world. Léon Gaumont is also remembered for his association with Solax Studios.

 38 
Claude-Étienne Minié
(Military Officer)
Claude-Étienne Minié
1
Birthdate: February 13, 1804
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: December 14, 1879
 39 
André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri
(Photographer)
André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri
1
Birthdate: March 28, 1819
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 4, 1889
 40 
Henri Herz
(Austrian-born French Composer, Pianist, and Piano Manufacturer)
Henri Herz
1
Birthdate: January 6, 1803
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: January 5, 1888
 41 
Charles Xavier Thomas
(Inventor)
Charles Xavier Thomas
1
Birthdate: May 5, 1785
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Colmar, France
Died: March 12, 1870
 42 
Henri-Gustave Delvigne
(French Inventor and Soldier)
Henri-Gustave Delvigne
1
Birthdate: April 10, 1800
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: October 18, 1876
 43 
André Cassagnes
(Inventor)
André Cassagnes
1
Birthdate: September 23, 1926
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 16, 2013
 44 
Jeanne Villepreux-Power
(Pioneering French Marine Biologist Who Invented the Systematic Application of the Aquarium in Order to Study Marine Life)
Jeanne Villepreux-Power
1
Birthdate: September 24, 1794
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Juillac, France
Died: January 25, 1871

Jeanne Villepreux-Power was a French marine biologist. She is credited with creating aquaria in 1832 in order to experiment with aquatic organisms. Nicknamed the Mother of Aquariophily, Villepreux-Power also invented the systematic application of the aquarium in order to study marine life. Jeanne Villepreux-Power was also a well-known author, conservationist, and dressmaker.

 45 
Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc
(French Astronomer Who Discovered the ‘Orion Nebula’ (1610))
Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc
1
Birthdate: December 1, 1580
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Belgentier, France
Died: June 24, 1637

The son of an affluent surgeon from Provence, Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc grew up to be a famous astronomer, known mostly for his research on longitudes. He is also remembered for discovering the Orion Nebula and owned a huge collection of coins, which he used to study history.

 46 
Paul Heroult
(French Scientist Who Invented the 'Electric-Arc Furnace')
Paul Heroult
1
Birthdate: April 10, 1863
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Thury-Harcourt, France
Died: May 9, 1914

Best known for inventing the electric-arc furnace, Paul Heroult had also devised the electrolytic process for developing low-cost aluminium. Because of a similar work by Charles Martin Hall, the process came to be known as the Hall–Heroult process. He had also been a technical advisor to many companies.

 47 
Émile Levassor
(Engineer)
Émile Levassor
1
Birthdate: January 21, 1843
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Marolles-en-Hurepoix, France
Died: April 14, 1897
 48 
Charles-Émile Reynaud
(Draughtsperson, Photographer, Film director, Painter)
Charles-Émile Reynaud
0
Birthdate: December 8, 1844
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Montreuil
Died: January 9, 1918
 49 
Hilaire de Chardonnet
(Engineer)
Hilaire de Chardonnet
1
Birthdate: May 1, 1839
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Besançon, France
Died: March 11, 1924
 50 
Marc Seguin
(Engineer)
Marc Seguin
1
Birthdate: April 20, 1786
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Annonay, France
Died: February 24, 1875