Many people like to believe that inventions and new ideas can only come from those who are experienced, and understand what they do. Gladly, the amazing fact about great inventions is that they can be made by anyone who comes up with a good idea, and they never discriminate on age. As long as you can think about what one can do in order to make the lives of others better, you are good to go.
It is, therefore, no wonder that young people have invented amazing products, although some of them have come to be accidentally. If anything, younger people have imaginations that are so vast and appealing that they can create practically anything, if they put their minds to it.
As you read on, you will be shocked to realize that some very integral and complicated innovations, such as natural gas valves and air brakes, are the works of teenagers. More interestingly, we feature a woman who, up to date, is the youngest woman to ever get a patent. All this teaches us to inspire our kids to dream big, and never stop thinking about great solutions to societal problems. Who knows, 10 years from now, they could make it into a top 15 list.
Now, let’s look at 15 youngest inventors in history.
15. Philo Farnsworth
Would you believe that a 14-year-old invented the television set? Philo Farnsworth was 14 years old when he prepared his first ever sketch for a prototype device that could display electronically produced images. This led to him developing proper video tubes a few years later to help create what would become the first television set. While the television set has evolved over the years in many ways, it is Farnsworth’s invention that helped make this all the more intriguing and viable. Some of his earliest prototypes from his youth can be found in a museum in his hometown of Rigby, Idaho.
14. Blaise Pascal
At the age of 18, Blaise Pascal created the first mechanical calculator. He developed it in 1642 when trying to help his father out at his job. His father, who was a prominent tax collector in France, struggled with tedious tax accounting, and so Pascal created the calculator as a means of making it easier for him to get calculations completed.
While this invention is similar to something that da Vinci tried a few years ago, it is important to note that unlike what da Vinci did, Pascal actually succeeded. His device also used sixteen dials, which when turned, could solve arithmetic problems such as additions and subtractions.
13. Louis Braille
When Louis Braille was 12 years old, he created a system, to make it easier for him and other blind people to read. This invention was a result of frustration over how the raised letters used on books for the blind were so difficult to read through. Consequently, he established a new system that uses a series of raised dots with each symbol representing a different character, an innovation that led to the development of a new standard for printing text for the blind. Thanks to this young mind, the world of reading and writing for the blind changed forever.
12. Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell was 18 years old when he developed what would become the modern telephone. He wanted to find a way to transmit messages through a wire linked to a receiver, aiming to improve communication between human beings. Before he started working on a communication device, Bell invented a de-husking machine for his friend’s family grain mill at a tender age of 12 years. He then began experimenting with electrical current to send sounds from one place to another, efforts that eventually culminated to creating a telephone. Although this is his most notable invention, Bell has been credited with several others, especially speech innovations, thanks to the laboratory from where he conducted experiments with his dad.
11. Chester Greenwood
Focused on finding something to help keep his ears comfortable while outdoors in the cold winter air, Chester Greenwood invented earmuffs when he was 15. Struggling to find the perfect product, he unfortunately couldn’t get anything going, until he took two pieces of wire and added some soft fabric over them to cover his ears. Three years later in 1877, he got a patent for what he called ear mufflers, which sold out in tens of thousands per year. By the time he died in 1937, Chester had sold more than a quarter million earmuffs.
10. Horatio Adams
When he was around 16 years old, in the early part of the nineteenth century, Horatio Adams bought some Mexican chicle and tried using it as a rubber substitute for some things around the house. He discovered that it was easily chewable, and better yet, could be flavored. This was his eureka moment. He took the chicle and made it into a series of chewable balls, which we now know as bubble gum.
Horatio went ahead and sold his bubble gum, eventually making profit from his venture. His bubble gum was eventually adapted by other people, including his dad Thomas Adams, who is usually credited for this innovation.
9. Frank Epperson
In 1905, when he was 11 years of age, Frank Epperson invented the Popsicle. It was actually an accidental innovation. Epperson was mixing water and sugary powdered soda outside their house with a stirring stick inside. He forgot about the mixture, which slept outside in the cold, and was found frozen the next morning. Epperson ate the product, which he called an epsicle, then decided to make it in bulk and sell around the neighborhood. He later expanded the sales beyond the neighborhood in 1923. He then applied for a patent, proceeding to add more flavors, and fully commercializing the product.
8. Becky Schroeder
At a tender age of 12, Becky Schroeder created a material that makes it easier for small spots to light up. She created the Glo-Sheet, a material that uses phosphorescent paint over an acrylic board, which she got a patent for in the United States. Her ‘glow in the dark’ paper, received immense demand from doctors, EMTs, and photographers, who needed to write on paper in the dark.
7. George Nissen
When George Nissen was 16 years old, he built the trampoline. This entailed a rectangular frame with a sturdy canvas piece attached and stretched onto it, a product he used to help him gain muscle mass for gymnastics. After graduating from college and winning a few college gymnastics championships, Nissen decided to sell his trampoline. Little did he know the contribution his invention had made in the field of gymnastics. Today, the trampoline, which has been improved since it was first created, is an important tool for balance and muscle training, and has even been adapted for use in many gymnastics events.
6. George Westinghouse
In 1865, George Westinghouse was 19 years old when he got a patent for his invention in the transport industry. He noticed that rail engines could be improved upon by using compressed air to create a sturdier movement. This could help with not only propelling an engine, but also making it easier for a train to stop, and slow down. This man’s brain was actually working on overdrive, causing him to come up with several other innovations, such as a valve that would allow safe distribution of natural gas to homes, and transformers, which helps distribute alternating electrical currents in wide networks.
5. Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky
In 1909, Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky of Ukraine invented the helicopter when he was just 20 years old. While similar machines had been considered well before then, Sikorsky had a better idea. He found that an engine similar to what is used in an airplane could be installed in a small square body, but with a series of propellers at the top. A year later, Sikorsky perfected the design so that it could be handled by a pilot. Because of his ingenuity, Sikorsky helped develop a strong machine that was easy to use in a number of ways. Later on, he also developed a four-engine airplane.
4. Walter Lines
The scooter is a popular toy that kids love to play with to this day. Its inventor is 15-year old Walter Lines, who started his own toy company a year earlier, and made a great series of products, although they were derived off of other products already in the market. When he developed the scooter, he intended it to be a product that could help transport people around through a series of streamlined wheels on a singular plank. The fun design of the product made it a landmark item that is still popular to this day, and is a staple product from Triang Toys, the company that Walter created.
3. Samuel Colt
When he was 16 years old, Samuel Colt developed a prominent firearm that bore his name. He was able to develop the Colt firearm thanks to explosives studies he had done earlier, and because of his experience making fireworks when he was younger. First, he developed a 45-caliber revolver that could be used for police duties. He then worked on a few different patterns and platforms, developed a prototype that was streamlined, but still easy for police officers to use. It would be a few years before it became popular, but near the turn of the twentieth century, he sold a thousand of his guns to the Texas Rangers for use in the Mexican-American War. Ever since then, his Colt revolver has been used as a standby in many police departments.
2. Joseph Bombardier
While enjoying winter in Quebec, Joseph Bombardier felt that there had to be a way to make it easier for vehicles to move through the snow. So, in 1922, when he was only 15 years old, he modified an old Ford Model T with a sleigh frame. He also used a propeller to get the vehicle moving. A few years later, he formed his own snowmobile company, which worked with vehicles based around his original design. Although the snowmobile has been heavily modified over the years, to this day Bombardier’s work has proven to be carefully produced, easy to follow, and utilize.
1. Robert Heft
It is true that Betsy Ross produced the first ever American flag, but the modern-day 50-star American flag was perfected by someone who was only 17 years of age. Robert Heft looked to create a new design for the flag that featured all 50 stars in the 1960s as a means of reflecting the new states of Alaska and Hawaii. Gladly, his design, which earned him a mere B- as a class assignment, was chosen by the government to be used as the new flag, causing his teacher to change his grade to an A. Since then, he became a prominent figure in politics and even became the mayor of a town in Ohio. He has also been a prominent motivational speaker who encouraged other inventors to try thinking outside the box when coming up with new ideas.
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