Every year on April 26th, the World Intellectual Property Association (WIPO) celebrates World IP Day – a day intended to promote discussion of the role of IP in encouraging innovation and creativity. In honor of World IP Day and all the fantastic invention happening the world over, below are a handful of some of our favorite inventors and inventions from around the globe.
Africa: Seyi Oyesola
In a recent TED talk, Nigerian doctor Dr. Seyi Oyesola pointed out that beyond “high-visibility illnesses like HIV/AIDS, common, survivable ailments and injuries -- burns, trauma, heart attacks -- kill thousands of Africans each year because basic medical care can be so hard to get.” His solution? The CompactOR or Hospital-in-a-Box, a portable medical system that’s light enough to be dropped into inaccessible zones by helicopter and can be powered by solar panels.
Antarctica: Ice Pier
Despite the many researchers and scientists who at some point call Antarctica’s McMurdo Station home, rather than citizens, we’re highlighting what we think is one of the continent’s coolest (in more ways than one!) inventions: the ice pier. Invented by the U.S. Navy, an ice pier is a man-made ice structure that helps ships unload in Antarctica. The piers, which can last up to five years and are roughly 22 feet thick, are simply pushed out to sea to melt – a process that can take years – when determined no longer usable.
Asia: An Wang
Born in Shanghai, China, An Wang immigrated to the United States at the age of 25 and was an early pioneer of computing technology. In total, he held 40 patents including patent number 2,708,722 for a magnetic pulse transfer controlling device which became essential to computer memory and was eventually sold to IBM in 1965 for $500,000. In 1988, Dr. Wang received recognition for his contributions to the computing industry by being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Australia: Dave Warren
Yet another doctor makes the list, but this time, the invention has nothing to do with medicine. Australian scientist Dr. David Ronald de Mey Warren is responsible for inventing the world’s first flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder. It’s reported that Dr. Warren was inspired after seeing a miniature voice recorder at a tradeshow though his interests in recording flight data were also likely fueled by a personal experience – his father passed away in an air crash when he was just 10 years old.
Europe: Johannes Gutenberg
One of the most well-known inventors of all time and the namesake of one of IV’s Lab buildings, German-born Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of moveable type printing started the Printing Revolution – widely viewed as the most important event of the modern period. Additionally, his printing technology lowered the price of books and other printing material making them available for the masses.
North America: Hedy Lamarr
Austrian by birth, Hedy Lamarr became a U.S. citizen at the age of 38 – some 15 years after she first came to America to pursue a career in Hollywood. Initially renowned for her silver screen pursuits, Lamarr makes this list thanks to a patent she and friend George Antheil received for what is now known as spread spectrum technology, an invention critical to the development of wireless phones and military communications systems.
South America: Hercules Florence
Though Hercules Florence’s invention of the photographic process was documented in personal notes dating back to 1833, he remained largely unknown outside of Brazil for roughly 150 years. It wasn’t until the 1970s that research by photography historian Boris Kossoy confirmed Florence, not Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre (who had a similar discovery in 1839), was in fact the inventor of photography.