The National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) is an American not-for-profit organization which recognizes individual engineers and inventors who hold a U.S. patent of highly significant technology. Founded in 1973, its primary mission is to "honor the people responsible for the great technological advances that make human, social and economic progress possible." Besides the Hall of Fame, it also operates a museum in Alexandria, Virginia, and a former middle school in Akron, Ohio, and sponsors educational programs, a collegiate competition, and special projects all over the United States to encourage creativity among students.
As of 2019, 582 inventors have been inducted, mostly constituting historic persons from the past three centuries, but including about 100 living inductees. An NIHF committee chooses an annual inductee class in February from nominations accepted from all sources. Nominees must hold a U.S. patent of significant contribution to the U.S. welfare, and which advances science and useful arts. The 2018 class included 15 inventors, including Marvin Caruthers for chemical synthesis, and Joseph C. Shivers for Spandex.
|National Inventor of Fame|
Display of inductees in the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Alexandria
|Purpose||"Honor[ing] the women and men responsible for the great technological advances that make human, social and economic progress possible."|
|Headquarters||3701 Highland Park N.W.|
North Canton, Ohio 44720
|Affiliations||Invent Now America|
The National Inventors Hall of Fame was founded in 1973 on the initiative of H. Hume Mathews, then the chairman of the National Council of Patent Law Associations (now the National Council of Intellectual Property Law Associations). In the following year, it gained a major sponsor in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from Washington, D.C.
At first, the Hall was housed in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, D.C., near the Washington National Airport but it soon needed more room at a more prominent location. A committee was formed in 1986 to find a new home for it. For a time, the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was the frontrunner. But in 1987, a patent attorney from Akron, Edwin "Ned" Oldham, the representative from the National Council of Patent Law Associations, led the drive to move the Hall to Akron. According to Maurice H. Klitzman, one of the founding members of the Board of Directors, because of the guaranteed financial support by the city of Akron that greatly exceeded any other community's proposal, the Board selected Akron as the new home. The construction of the new building was finished in 1995 and the Hall opened to the public with the name of the Inventure Place.
From the beginning, the Inventure Place was intended to be more than a science and technology museum and library. It was designed to double as an inventor's workshop and a national resource center for creativity. Designed by an architect from New York City, James Stewart Polshek, it was a stainless-steel building, shaped like a curving row of white sails, with five tiers of exhibits. One of the exhibits allowed the visitors to use computer programs for making animations and mechanisms for running laser-light shows.
But attendance did not meet the expectations and the museum never made a profit, although its related ventures and programs, such as Invent Now and Camp Invention, proved to be more successful. In 2002, its name was changed to the National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum. Six years later the Hall moved to Alexandria. Its former facility was converted to a specialty school for students in grades between 5th and 8th. It is now the National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM Middle School, a middle school for the Akron Public Schools.
In Alexandria, the National Inventors Hall of Fame operates a museum in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office building at 600 Dulany Street, with a gallery of digital portraits of the honorees, interactive kiosks and a theater. Admission is free.
In addition to the exhibits of the artifacts and documents from the collections of the Patent and Trademark Office, it also promotes future generations of inventors by sponsoring the Invent Now Kids program, Camp Invention, Club Invention and the Collegiate Inventors Competition as well as, with national partners, many ventures and special projects.
Camp Invention, founded in 1990, is a daytime summer camp for children, with program sites in 49 states. Camp Invention is the only nationally recognized summer program focused on creativity, innovation, real-world problem solving and the spirit of the invention.
The Collegiate Inventors Competition was created in 1990 to encourage college and university students to be creative and innovative with science, engineering and technology for dealing with the problems of the world. Since then, with the help from the sponsors, it has awarded more than $1 million to the winning students in two categories, undergraduate and graduate. In 2012, the first places were won with a delivery therapy for treating cancer and a way to facilitate suturing in abdominal surgery. Other finalists included the use of CT scanning and 3-D printing technology to replicate an amputee's lost hand, a low-profile shoulder brace that can be applied by the athletes themselves, and an electric motorcycle that runs on spheres instead of wheels.
Andrew J. Moyer (November 30, 1899 – February 17, 1959) was an American microbiologist. He was a researcher at the USDA Northern Regional Research Laboratory in Peoria, Illinois. His group was responsible for the development of techniques for the mass production of penicillin. This led to the wide scale use of penicillin in World War II. Moyer was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1987. A scholarship fund was created in his name at the University of Maryland in 1977.Bernard M. Oliver
Bernard M. Oliver (May 27, 1916 – November 23, 1995), also known as Barney Oliver, was a scientist who made contributions in many fields, including radar, television, and computers. He was the founder and director of Hewlett Packard (HP) laboratories until his retirement in 1981. He is also a recognized pioneer in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). Oliver was president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in 1965. In 1986, Oliver was a National Medal of Science recipient for Engineering Science and on February 11, 2004 it was announced that Oliver had been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.Chuck Hull
Chuck Hull (Charles W. Hull; born May 12, 1939) is the co-founder, executive vice president and chief technology officer of 3D Systems. He is the inventor of the solid imaging process known as stereolithography (3D Printing), the first commercial rapid prototyping technology, and the STL file format. He is named on more than 60 U.S. patents as well as other patents around the world in the fields of ion optics and rapid prototyping. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014 and in 2017 was one of the first inductees into the TCT Hall of Fame.Eli Whitney Blake
Eli Whitney Blake, Sr. (January 27, 1795 – August 18, 1886) was an American inventor, best known for his mortise lock and stone-crushing machine, the latter of which earned him a place into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.Emmett Chappelle
Emmett W. Chappelle (born 24 October 1925 in Phoenix, Arizona) is an African-American scientist who made valuable contributions in the fields of medicine, philanthropy, food science, and Astrochemistry. His achievements led to his induction into to the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his work on Bio-luminescence, in 2007. Being honored as one of the 100 most distinguished African American scientists of the 20th Century, he is also a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the American Society of Photobiology, the American Society of Microbiology, and the American Society of Black Chemists.Erna Schneider Hoover
Dr. Erna Schneider Hoover (born June 19, 1926) is an American mathematician notable for inventing a computerized telephone switching method which "revolutionized modern communication" according to several reports. It prevented system overloads by monitoring call center traffic and prioritizing tasks on phone switching systems to enable more robust service during peak calling times. At Bell Laboratories where she worked for over 32 years, Hoover was described as an important pioneer for women in the field of computer technology.Frances Ligler
Frances S. Ligler (born June 11, 1951) is a biochemist and bioengineer who was a 2017 inductee of the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Ligler's research dramatically improved the effectiveness of biosensors while at the same time reducing their size and increasing automation. Her work on biosensors made it easier to detect toxins and pathogens in food, water, or when airborne. In a 2017 interview, Ligler summarized her work: "[Optical biosensors] is a whole field where biological molecules are being used for recognition and transduce an optical signal to a small device. My teams and I demonstrated the use of optical biosensors for detection of pathogens in food, infectious diseases in people, biological warfare agents, environmental pollutants, explosives and drugs of abuse — things that can kill you." Ligler's interests include microfluidics, tissue on chips, optical analytical devices, biosensors and nanotechnology. Ligler holds 32 patents and has authored over 400 scientific papers.George Edward Alcorn Jr.
George Edward Alcorn Jr. (born March 22, 1940) is an American physicist and inventor who worked primarily for IBM and NASA. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2015.George H. Heilmeier
George Harry Heilmeier (May 22, 1936 – April 21, 2014) was an American engineer, manager, and a pioneering contributor to liquid crystal displays (LCDs), for which he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Heilmeier's work is an IEEE Milestone.Gerald Pearson
Gerald L. Pearson (March 31, 1905 – October 25, 1987) was a physicist whose work on silicon rectifiers at Bell Labs led to the invention of the solar cell. In 2008, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.Harriet Williams Russell Strong
Harriet Williams Russell Strong (July 23, 1844 – September 6, 1926) was an American social activist, inventor, conservationist, and leading figure of the early woman's movement. She has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame and the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Her pioneering innovations in water storage and flood control enabled the construction of the Hoover dam and the All-American Canal.Hedy Lamarr
Hedy Lamarr (), born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler; November 9, 1914 – January 19, 2000) was an Austrian-born American film actress and inventor.After a brief early film career in Czechoslovakia, including the controversial Ecstasy (1933), she fled from her husband, a wealthy Austrian ammunition manufacturer, and secretly moved to Paris. Traveling to London, she met Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio head Louis B. Mayer, who offered her a movie contract in Hollywood. She became a film star with her performance in Algiers (1938). Her MGM films include Lady of the Tropics (1939), Boom Town (1940), H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941), and White Cargo (1942). Her greatest success was as Delilah in Cecil B. DeMille's Samson and Delilah (1949). She also acted on television before the release of her final film, The Female Animal (1958). She was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.At the beginning of World War II, she and composer George Antheil developed a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes that used spread spectrum and frequency hopping technology to defeat the threat of jamming by the Axis powers. Although the US Navy did not adopt the technology until the 1960s, the principles of their work are incorporated into Bluetooth technology and are similar to methods used in legacy versions Wi-Fi. This work led to their induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.Josephine Cochrane
Josephine Garis Cochran (later Cochrane) (March 8, 1839 in Ashtabula County, Ohio – August 14, 1913 (age 72) in Chicago, Illinois) was the inventor of the first commercially successful automatic dishwasher, which she constructed together with mechanic George Butters.Cochran was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2006 for her invention of the dishwasher.List of National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees
The National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) inductees includes over 500 inventors spanning three centuries of lifetimes. John Fitch was the earliest born inventor inducted into the NIHF (1743), while Barrett Comiskey is currently the most recently born (1975).Lloyd Conover
Lloyd Hillyard Conover (June 13, 1923 – March 11, 2017) was an American chemist and the inventor of tetracycline. For this invention, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Conover was the first to make an antibiotic by chemically modifying a naturally produced drug. He had close to 300 patents to his name.Marion Donovan
Marion O'Brien Donovan (October 15, 1917 – November 4, 1998) was an American inventor and entrepreneur. She is best known for developing the first waterproof disposable diaper, a feat which earned her election to the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2015.National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM High School
The National Inventor's Hall of Fame STEM High School is a public high school in the Akron Public School District that serves the city of Akron, Ohio since its creation in 2012. Their school colors are turquoise and chrome. Their school slogan is, "STEM out of Ten." Its predecessor was Central-Hower High School which served the city of Akron from 1970 until its closure at the end of the 2005-06 school year.Roger L. Easton
Roger Lee Easton, Sr. (April 30, 1921 – May 8, 2014) was an American scientist/physicist who was the principal inventor and designer of the Global Positioning System, along with Ivan A. Getting and Bradford Parkinson. He was born in Craftsbury, Vermont.Samuel E. Blum
Samuel E. Blum (August 28, 1920 – January 9, 2013) was an American chemist and physicist. He was a researcher at the Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio, working for government and private companies. He worked with semiconductor materials, which was his specialization until his retirement from IBM Watson Research Center in 1990.Blum's most notable invention is the patent on the ultraviolet excimer laser, which is used in surgical and dental procedures, which provided the laser technology that is central in LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) surgery. The co-inventors included chemist Rangaswamy Srinivasan and physicist James J. Wynne. The patent was filed in December 1982 and was issued on November 15, 1988. The contribution of this technology to LASIK has brought 20/20 vision and freedom from eyeglasses and contact lenses to millions of people. For this innovation, he was inducted to the National Inventors Hall of Fame (2002) and received the R. W. Wood Prize (2004) from the Optical Society of America (OSA). In 2013, Blum, Srinivasan, and Wynne were awarded the Russ Prize from the National Academy of Engineering for this work.