Thanksgiving Edition Revised: Top 6 Inventors Who Gifted Their Inventions to Humanity

It is tradition that we reflect on what we’re grateful for this time of year. And in our previous Thanksgiving Edition we focused on unsung heroes, inventors who gifted their gifts to humanity, knowing what monumental positive impact they can have on us, and not requiring monetary payment for it. After even more reflection, we feel that these bestowers of their gifts on humanity are worthy of gratitude, and so we remember and update those we honored before and extend our list with to be this year’s Thanksgiving Revised Edition!

  • JOHN WALKER FOR MATCHES. You may not have used a match in a long time, but not too long ago, they were … everywhere. If you’ve ever experienced using a flint, you know that matches are awesome. And yet John Walker refused to patent his invention (despite being encouraged to do so by the likes of Michael Faraday!). He never received fame or wealth for his invention; he just gave it… to us all.

  • JONAS SALK FOR THE POLIO VACCINE: Salk invented the polio vaccine in 1953 and never patented it, at the time, it was claimed it couldn’t be patented. Given that today there are many patents on human DNA, it probably could have been…

  • FREDRICK BANTING FOR INSULIN: together with Charles Best and James Collip, he isolated and refined insulin, and then they proceeded to sell the patent rights for it to The University of Toranto for a whopping $1! Their goal was to make a treatment for diabetes widely available to the public. But the drug companies managed to make sure that they make tons of money on insulin despite that.

  • VOLVO FOR THE CAR SEATBELT The 3-point seat safety belt (photo to the right) is hailed as the most used and most singificant safety innovation in over a century of car history. In 1959, Nils Bohlin, a Volvo engineer invented the 3-point seat belt, a stunning example of great design, easy to use, splendid for the safety of the secured person. Volvo, instead of hording it for itself, made it an open patent, granting free use of its design to … all its competitors. How many other companies do you know that did something like that?

  • TIM BERNERS-LEE FOR THE WWW: How could we post a blog on the World Wide Web without Berners-Lee who, while working at CERN, proposed hypertext which revolutionized computing: he created the WWW, designed and built the first web browser, the first web server, first http communication, the first website, etc. Whoa! But he didn’t stop there, he was heavily involved in the policy around it, and made sure that his work was available freely, with no patent/royalties.

  • Bifocals from Benjamin Franklin: Franklin did not only create some memorable quotes, he also invented several memorable items, like bifocals. There are others on the list, and while folks may question whether there’s sufficient evidence to credit Franklin with their invention, the fact he purposefully did not seek patents on them, but instead gifted them to… well, us.

What inventions or inventors are you grateful for?

Advertisement

52 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Edition Revised: Top 6 Inventors Who Gifted Their Inventions to Humanity

  1. Oh, this is so inspirational, EW! Not only because of these great thinkers/innovators but also their willingness to share with all. And all because of your lovely post to highlight both big thinking and big hearts – which is a description that makes me think of you! Happy Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I didn’t know Volvo is how we got seatbelts. I’ve often wondered about that but not enough to use Berners-Lee’s invention to find out the answer to my query, which had I done so would have involved me using Franklin’s invention to see the answer. Grateful to all of these inventors.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Great people who invented great things. I loved the opening quote too! I can’t think of one invention in particular but I can think of a quote that I heard long ago…
    “History is the record of man. Science is God’s creation.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. How wonderful it is to find another quote lover! Two quotes come to mind:

      Ray Bradbury’s “Touch a scientist and you touch a child.”
      And Albert Einstein’s “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.”

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I once met Jonas Salk’s brother. He was a veterinarian, and also very generous. When I was 15, he took care of my sick puppy, and didn’t charge a dime. I think people like that are a joy to be around, because you can trust them.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I love that you not only shared six inventions that have saved so many people’s lives, but also six inventors who selflessly shared their inventions for the sake of helping others, rather than for credit or money. Thank you for this. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much to YOU for your generous words! It’s funny how difficult it is to come up with examples for this level of selflessness? I’m grateful to have found like-minded people who can appreciate the same: thank YOU!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Deb! It seemed like a good way to pause and think back on these every day things that we seem to take for granted. The match was always the first example that came to mind. And, I’m not sure if I would have behaved in the same selfless manner that Walker did 😀 These are some unique and marvelous people that make us all proud, and I, too, am grateful, to them, and to you for your generous words!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. An inspirational and heartwarming pre-Thanksgiving post, Endless Weekend! I knew about some of your examples but not every one. It’s wonderful that it’s not all about money, money, money for some people. Then there are the greedy, immoral drug-company executives you referenced who gouge consumers on insulin — charging way more than the cost to manufacture it, and way more in the U.S. than in most other countries. Those execs are criminals.

    Like

    1. Thank you for your generous compliment, Dave! These examples warm my heart, too.

      I believe we both know that it’s the environment, or the system, that facilitates this type of behavior, and that as long as it is enabled, someone will take advantage of it since, as we both know, it is legal to do so. And so they do. As other industries take advantage of what the system facilitates. In the case of insulin, what we get is:

      https://www.statista.com/chart/23127/average-price-per-standard-unit-of-insulin/

      Sad, but legal.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words! I know Salk was originally from New York and that the Salk Institute is in San Diego, so he could be a hometown hero in a bunch of places? 🙂

      I agree that it’s sad how despite the intention of the inventor, Banting, who didn’t even want to patent the invention because he wanted it to be free, and was talked into it because otherwise someone else could patent it, despite all they’ve tried, like you said, it ended up going against their wishes…

      I hope you and yours have a marvelous Thanksgiving!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. All of those inventions/discoveries have impacted my life, except perhaps for insulin, but then again, I have friends who are insulin dependent. So nice they were compassionate enough to think of others. Big pharma has no such inclination these days. Thanks for sharing this inspirational post. Allan

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I, too, especially like the ones who were urged to make money off their invention, but still put the greater good ahead of that. Who knows how much it would have set us back if we were required to pay a royalty for every match? Every time we buckled our seat belt? Thank YOU for your kind words!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve always said the crockpot is one of the better inventions. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve worked a long day and been too tired to cook dinner, but didn’t have to, because dinner was already cooked and awaiting my arrival. Truly a modern timesaver.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is absolutely a fantastic invention, I’m glad you brought it up: it gave me a chance to learn who invented it, Irving Nachumsohn, who got the patent for it in 1940. It turns out that he changed his name (due to WWII) to Naxon, and the first crockpots went by “Naxon Beanery.” When he, decades later, sold his business to Rival Manufacturing, it got rebranded to Crock Pot, and the rest… is yummy foods when you want them, not when you make them. GREAT invention, thank you for remind me of it!

      Like

  9. There are so many things we take for granted that were revolutionary inventions at some time. The zipper, Velcro, canned food. For today I’ll send my appreciation to the person who first came up with a flush toilet. Several times a day I’m grateful for that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a terrific observation: we DO take a lot of the inventions for granted, and, yes, I, too, am grateful (more than just several times a day :P) for the flushable toilet. And thank you for bringing up such an interesting question: who was the inventor of the flush toilet… I had to look it up 🙂
      It turns out that even though toilets existed for thousands of years with a constant stream to “carry” stuff away, it wasn’t until the 16th century that the literature mentions a flushable toilet in England… But the honor officially goes to “In 1775 Scottish inventor Alexander Cumming was granted the first patent for a flush toilet. His greatest innovation was the S-shaped pipe below the bowl that used water to create a seal preventing sewer gas from entering through the toilet.” (From https://www.history.com/news/who-invented-the-flush-toilet)

      Thank you so much for teaching me something new today, and reminding me to be grateful for it!)

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This is really interesting. I knew a few of these and it really impresses me when people don’t do the expected and try to benefit from someone else’s pain. Insulin manufacturers are some of the worst in my view. You don’t know how many people I know trying to manage diabetes without enough insulin because it’s ridiculously expensive. I use the older, cheapest insulin and without Walmart’s insulin plan it would have cost me $1500 for just one of the two I take. Who can afford that? People are dying.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I didn’t know the exact numbers but it’s not surprising. I have friends in the diabetic community around the world and everyone is shocked at our prices. The thing is, they make fancy new insulins with very little new benefit but they insist that development of new insulins drives the price. But that is no excuse for the older insulins such as what I take to cost as much as they do.

        And diabetes was just an example. There are far too many. For some years there, I couldn’t get a tetanus shot because no one would manufacture it. And what was that rare drug a few years ago that the crazy ass ceo who was headed to prison raised by 5000%? Or something like that. And I won’t start on breathing medications. The system is messed up.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. When did we become the land of the greedy and the home of the passive? It’s just crazy. I was watching a new Bill Nye show last night where he explained how the government will stop early warnings on major storms because of the possible economic impact. Fruitcakes all around us, Jimmy.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I believe it’s the system that we have created that enables that. Did you know that the US government provides, for free, extremely accurate weather forecasts? And then, there are companies that take that free information, and charge for them, I remember (vaguely) reading that some of them will only provide warnings to subscribers… The others will have to stick their finger up in the air for tornado warnings? 😀

          Liked by 1 person

  11. I think Bill was talking more about tsunami warnings and hurricanes, the big evacuation storms. I did know that we have some truly excellent weather forecasting and it can be used by local meteorologists for no cost. My dad worked for NOAA for, well most of his life. I used to call him from university to get the up to date satellite and storm information. That was well before nifty weather apps. Do you remember sitting and waiting forever for a forecast to come on the radio? How did we live without net access to the radar right now?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember trying to follow precise directions (you know, take a right after the big oak tree :D) and ending up in the wrong place. I know I wouldn’t dare drive without a phone now, and it makes me wonder how much of that dependency helps vs. hurts us… There was a great episode of Black Mirror where the driver decided to ignore the car’s navigation’s system, but the navigation system “decided” to overrule the driver, a la “I can’t let you do that, Dave”?

      And for whatever reason, this little thing came to mind:

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Those are so interesting! I think the seat belt being freely given even to competitors when you consider how much money they could have made with the safest car on the road. Wow. That is truly impressive. They all are, of course, but that one strikes me the most, for some reason.

    Thanks for sharing, EW!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank YOU, Betsy! I feel the same way (the order of the inventions is no indication of the importance I assign to them 🙂 )! Volvo CLEARLY knew how beneficial the 3-point seat safety belt was when they invented it, and yet to be willing to share it with their COMPETITORS??? How many examples of that do you know of? I’m in awe of Volvo, too!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Very ominous “on that” 😛

          But yes, I’ve yet to find something I inherently disagree on with you, though I do like my feet skin-colored, not like yours, multi-colored with all shades of yellow, blue, and black… 😛 Speaking of, how’s the recovery?

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Hahahaha! TOTALLY didn’t mean it that way, but I easily see how you could interpret it that way.

          In my mind, I call my foot the zombie foot because it’s fat and purple and dead looking. Still swollen. Since I pretty much just got off the phone with the doc, you can be the first (after Hubby) to know my MRI showed bone bruising in the foot and lower leg. No prognosis as to how long it will take to heal. I’m being referred to an orthopedic specialist next.

          Tomorrow marks 2 months since The Incident, and it’s still painful. :/

          Liked by 1 person

        3. I was kidding you about the ominous of “on that”, but I’m dismayed of 2 months of suffering in bright purple (which should only be the color of churros as we both know…). Do let me know what the orthopedic specialist says?

          Should we both do an iZombie marathon and see if they have any suggestions for iFoot? (But seriously, do share what the specialist says?)

          Liked by 1 person

        4. “bright purple (which should only be the color of churros as we both know…)” hahaha! Oh, that is so fabulously wonderful. Thank you for that, EW.

          And, yes, of course, I’ll let you know. I just let the rest of my bloggy buds know about the MRI with a post. We shall all stay tuned! 🙂

          Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s