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Inventors and Inventions from 1951-2000:
The Second Half of the Twentieth Century

APGAR SCALE
The Apgar scale is a standardized scale that is used to determine the physical status of an infant at birth. This simple, easy-to-perform test was devised in 1953 by Dr. Virginia Apgar (1909-1974), a professor of anesthesia at the New York Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. The Apgar scale is administered to a newborn at one minute after birth and five minutes after birth. It scores the baby's heart rate, respiration, muscle tone, reflex response, and color. This test quickly alerts medical personnel that the newborn needs assistance.
APGAR, VIRGINIA
Dr. Virginia Apgar (1909-1974), a professor of anesthesiology at the New York Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, devised the Apgar Scale in 1953. The Apgar scale is a simple, easy-to-perform, standardized scale that is used to determine the physical status of an infant at birth. The Apgar scale is administered to a newborn at one minute after birth and five minutes after birth. It scores the baby's heart rate, respiration, muscle tone, reflex response, and color. This test quickly alerts medical personnel that the newborn baby needs assistance.
BARNARD, CHRISTIAAN N.
Christiaan Neethling Barnard (1923- 2001) was a South African heart surgeon who developed surgical procedures for organ transplants, invented new heart valves, and performed the first human heart transplant (on Dec. 3, 1967, in a five-hour operation with a team of 20 surgeons). The 55-year-old Louis Washkansky received the heart transplant; Washkansky lived for only 18 days after the operation, dying from pneumonia (his immune system had been weakened by drugs designed to suppress the rejection of the new heart). The donor of the heart was a woman who had been fatally injured in a car crash. Barnard performed more successful transplants later in his career; some of his later transplant recipients survived for years. Barnard was the head of the cardiac unit at Groote Schuur Hospital until he retired in 1983
BERNERS-LEE, TIM
Tim Berners-Lee (1955, London, England - ) invented the World Wide Web. His first version of the Web was a program named "Enquire," short for "Enquire Within Upon Everything". At the time, Berners-Lee was working at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory located in Geneva, Switzerland. He invented the system as a way of sharing scientific data (and other information) around the world, using the Internet, a world-wide network of computers, and hypertext documents. He wrote the language HTML (HyperText Mark-up Language), the basic language for the Web, and devised URL's (universal resource locators) to designate the location of each web page. HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) was his set of rules for linking to pages on the Web. After he wrote the first browser in 1990, the World Wide Web was up and going. Its growth was (and still is) phenomenal, and has changed the world, making information more accessible than ever before in history. Berners-Lee is now a Principal Research Scientist at the Laboratory for Computer Science at the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, Massachusett, USA) and the Director of the W3 Consortium.
BERSON, SOLOMON A.
Dr. Solomon A. Berson (1919-1972) and Dr. Rosalyn Sussman Yalow (1921- ) co-invented the radioimmunoassay (RIA) in 1959. The radioimmunoassay is a method of chemically analyzing human blood and tissue and is used diagnose illness (like diabetes). RIA revolutionized diagnoses because it uses only a tiny sample of blood or tissue and is a relatively inexpensive and simple test to perform. Blood banks use RIA to screen blood; RIA is used to detect drug use, high blood pressure, infertility, and many other conditions and diseases. For inventing RIA, Yalow won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1977 (Yalow accepted for Berson, who died in 1972). Yalow and Berson did not patent the RIA; instead they allowed the common use of RIA to benefit human health.
CELLULAR PHONE
The first automatic analog cellular phone was made in the 1960's. Commercial models were introduced in Japan by NTT on December 3, 1979. They were introduced in Scandinavia in 1981, in Chicago, USA, on October 13, 1983 (by Motorola), and in Europe in the late 1980's. Early mobile FM (frequency modulation radio was invented by Edwin H. Armstrong in 1935) radio telephones had been in use in the USA since 1946, but since the number of radio frequencies are very limited in any area, the number of phone calls was also very limited. Only a dozen or two calls could be made at the same time in an area. To solve this problem, there could be many small areas (called cells) which share the same frequencies. But when users moved from one area to another while calling, the call would have to be switched over automatically without losing the call. In this system, a small number of radio frequencies could accommodate a huge number of calls. This cellular phone concept was devised by a team of researchers at Bell Labs in 1947, but there were no computers available to do the switching. As small inexpensive computers were developed, cell phones could be produced. Motorola holds the US patents for the cell phone. Henry Taylor Sampson and George H. Miley hold a 1968 patent (US patent #3,591,860) on a "gamma electric cell," which is not a component of cellular phones.
ELION, GERTRUDE
Gertrude Belle Elion (January 23, 1918 - February 21, 1999) was a Nobel Prize winning biochemist who invented many life-saving drugs, including 6-mercaptopurine (Purinethol) and 6-thioguanine (which fight leukemia), Imuran, Zovirax, and many others. Elion worked at Burroughs-Wellcome (now called Glaxo Wellcome) for decades (beginning in 1944) with George Hitchings and Sir James Black, with whom she shared the Nobel Prize. She is named on 45 patents for drugs and her work has saved the lives of thousands of people.
HOPPER, GRACE M.
Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (1906 - 1992) was a US naval officer and mathematician who invented the computer compiler (called the A-O) in 1952. Her compiler revolutionized computer programming, automatically translating high-level instructions (easier to understand by people) into machine code (the cryptic, native language of the central processing unit). Hopper and a team developed the first user-friendly business programming language, COBOL (COmmon Business-Oriented Language). There is an unconfirmed story that Hopper determined than an error in the early Mark II computer was caused by a moth that was trapped in it; she then coined the term "computer bug."
INTEGRATED CIRCUIT
An integrated circuit (IC) or chip is a wafer of material to which impurities have been added (in just the right patterns) so that the entire chip is a circuit composed of many transistors. The chip (usually made of silicon or germanium) makes computational devices, like computers, very small and very inexpensive. IC's were invented independently in 1959 by Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce.
KAMEN, DEAN
Dean Kamen is an American inventor who has invented many revolutionary devices and holds over 35 U.S. patents. He developed the portable medical infusion pump, which allows patients to receive medication, like insulin, away from the hospital, and has allowed diabetic women to carry and deliver babies much more safely. Kamen designed the iBot, a revolutionary wheelchair (that uses gyroscopes and computers) that the user "wears" - it allows increased mobility (it can even climb stairs) and improved social interaction (the user can "stand"). He also invented intravascular stents (devices that hold blocked arteries open) and the portable kidney dialysis machine, which has enabled kidney dialysis patients to avoid long hospital visits - they can do the dialysis themselves while they sleep. The Segway is a rechargable electric, single-person vehicle he invented.

Kamen founded an educational learning center for children called Science Enrichment Encounters (or "SEE"), and FIRST ("For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology") which has a yearly robot competition for high school students.

KARLE, ISABELLA L.
Isabella Helen Lugoski Karle (1921- ) is a American physical chemist who invented new methods of X-ray Crystallography. She used electron diffraction and then x-ray diffraction to study the structure of molecules. Karle developed a three-dimensional modeling process, enabling her to identify and show the structures of hundreds of complex and important molecules (including alkaloids, ionophores, steroids, toxins, and peptides [amino acid compounds]). Because of Karle's process, the number of published molecular analyzes has jumped from about 150 to over 10,000 per year. Karle received the National Medal of Science in 1995. Karle is a senior scientist and head of the Naval Research Laboratory's (NRL) x-ray diffraction section in the Laboratory for the Structure of Matter. Karle's husband, Jerome Karle, is a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry.
KEVLAR
Kevlar (poly[p-phenyleneterephtalamide]) is a polymer fiber that is five times stronger than the same weight of steel. Kevlar is used in bullet-proof vests, helmets, trampolines, tennis rackets, and many other commonly-used objects. Kevlar was invented by Stephanie Louise Kwolek and was first marketed by DuPont in 1971.
K'NEX
The toy construction set called K'NEX was invented in 1990 by Joel Glickman. Joel had been playing with straws while at a wedding and realized that with some simple connectors, they would make a great building set. His plastic rod and connector construction set soon became popular worldwide. K'NEX are made by K'NEX Industries, Inc., a privately held company, and are distributed by the toy company Hasbro.
KWOLEK, STEPHANIE LOUISE
Stephanie Louise Kwolek (1923- ) is an American chemist who discovered kevlar and many other para-aramid fibers. Kevlar (poly[p-phenyleneterephtalamide]) is a polymer fiber that is five times stronger than the same weight of steel. Kevlar is used in bullet-proof vests, helmets, trampolines, tennis rackets, and many other commonly-used objects.
LEGO
Legos (TM) are a very popular interlocking plastic toy. The LEGO toy company was founded by Ole Kirk Christiansen of Denmark in 1932, but the company then sold mostly wooden toys. The word LEGO was formed from two Danish words, "LEg GOdt," which mean "play well." Christiansen was a carpenter from the Danish village of Billund. The interlocking plastic blocks (the stud and tube coupling system) were invented by Godtfred Christiansen (Ole's son), and patented in 1958. Lego toys were first sold in the USA in 1961. LEGO people were introduced in 1974.
LIQUID PAPER
Liquid Paper is a quick-drying, paper-colored (white) liquid that is painted onto paper to correct printed material. Liquid Paper was invented in 1951 by Bessie Nesmith (1922-1980). It was based on white tempera paint (Nesmith was also an artist). Nesmith was a secretary in Texas, USA, before the time of word processors. She began selling her vastly popular invention, and soon ran the very successful Liquid Paper company. Her son, Michael Nesmith, was a member of the rock group called the Monkees.
PANTYHOSE
Pantyhose was invented in 1959 by Allen Gant of North Carolina, USA, in 1959. This new undergarment became popular as miniskirts were the fashion and soon came to replace nylon stockings held up with a garter belt (short skirts were not long enough to hide the bottom of the garter belt). Gant was associated with the Glen Raven Mills textile mill (he was a descendant of the founder of the mill, John Gant), the company that first manufactured pantyhose.
PLAY-DOH
Play-Doh, a popular children's modeling clay, was invented by Noah W. McVicker and Joseph S. McVicker. They patented Play-Doh in 1956 (patent # 3,167,440). The original Play-Doh was sold in only one color, off- white. Eventually, many colors were marketed. Over 700 million pounds of Play-Doh have been sold, but the formula is still a secret.
RADIOIMMUNOASSAY
Dr. Solomon A. Berson (1919-1972) and Dr. Rosalyn Sussman Yalow (1921- ) co-invented the radioimmunoassay (RIA) in 1959. The radioimmunoassay is a method of chemically analyzing human blood and tissue and is used diagnose illness (like diabetes). RIA revolutionized diagnoses because it uses only a tiny sample of blood or tissue and is a relatively inexpensive and simple test to perform. Blood banks use RIA to screen blood; RIA is used to detect drug use, high blood pressure, infertility, and many other conditions and diseases. For inventing RIA, Yalow won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1977 (Yalow accepted for Berson, who died in 1972). Yalow and Berson did not patent the RIA; instead they allowed the common use of RIA to benefit human health.
RAZOR SCOOTER
The Razor scooter is a new and very popular foldable scooter. It was invented by a team of people at the J.D. Corp. (a company that sells aluminum bicycle parts and electric scooters in Changhua, Taiwan, Republic of China). Gino Tsai, the president of the company, wanted a way to get around his factory floors faster (he says that he is a slow walker and he needed a more efficient means of getting around). It took about 5 years for the team to develop their current model, which uses airplane-grade aluminum and polyurethane wheels. It was introduced in 1998 at the NSGA World Sports Expo, when Tsai scooted around the show, attracting the attention of Sharper Image Corp., who ordered the first Razor scooters. The scooters quickly became popular world-wide.
SALK, JONAS
Jonas Salk (1914-1995) was a research physician who formulated a vaccine against the devastating disease polio. Poliomyelitis, also called infantile paralysis, had crippled thousands of children during an epidemic that hit the world during the 1940's and 1950's. It is estimated that one of every 5,000 people (mostly children) fell victim to polio. Some victims were totally paralyzed and need to live in "iron lungs" (a large apparatus that helped the patient breathe). Salk's developed his vaccine in 1947, while working at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School. The vaccine was made from killed polio virus. In 1955, after many trials of the new vaccine, the vaccine was made public, and put an end to the polio epidemic. Salk wrote many books, including: "Man Unfolding" (1972), "The Survival of the Wisest "(1973), "World Population and Human Values: A New Reality" (1981), and "Anatomy of Reality" (1983). When Salk died, he had been working on a vaccine for the AIDS virus.
SMOKE ALARM
The first residential smoke alarm (also called a smoke detector) was designed in 1967 by BRK Electronics (this company would later sell the First Alert® brand of smoke detectors). These inexpensive, battery-operated devices received the Underwriters Laboratory approval in 1969. Smoke alarms have saved countless lives over the years, alerting people to fires.
WORLD WIDE WEB
Tim Berners-Lee (1955, London, England - ) invented the World Wide Web. His first version of the Web was a program named "Enquire," short for "Enquire Within Upon Everything". At the time, Berners-Lee was working at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory located in Geneva, Switzerland. He invented the system as a way of sharing scientific data (and other information) around the world, using the Internet, a world-wide network of computers, and hypertext documents. He wrote the language HTML (HyperText Mark-up Language), the basic language for the Web, and devised URL's (universal resource locators) to designate the location of each web page. HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) was his set of rules for linking to pages on the Web. After he wrote the first browser in 1990, the World Wide Web was up and going. Its growth was (and still is) phenomenal, and has changed the world, making information more accessible than ever before in history. Berners-Lee is now a Principal Research Scientist at the Laboratory for Computer Science at the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, Massachusett, USA) and the Director of the W3 Consortium.
WU, CHIEN-SHIUNG
Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu (Shanghai, China, May 31, 1912 - New York, USA, February 16, 1997) was a nuclear physicist who studied beta-decay (a weak interaction in which one of the neutrons in the nucleus of an atom decays into a proton and an electron; the proton enters the nucleus, forming an isotope, and the electron is emitted as a beta-particle). In 1956, Madam Wu did experiments showing that parity is not conserved in weak interactions (demonstrating parity violation in the nuclear beta decay in cobalt 60). Her experiments supported T. D. Lee and C. N. Yang's revolutionary idea that parity was not conserved in weak interactions (parity conservation had been a basic assumption in physics). Madam Wu worked on the Manhattan Project (a secret US project during World War 2 to develop an atomic bomb in order to defeat Hitler), developing a process for separating the uranium isotopes U235 and U238 by gaseous diffusion. She also helped develop more sensitive Geiger counters (devices that detect radiation). Madam Wu also studied the molecular changes in hemoglobin associated with sickle-cell anemia.
YALOW, ROSALYN S.
Dr. Solomon A. Berson (1919-1972) and Dr. Rosalyn Sussman Yalow (1921- ) co-invented the radioimmunoassay (RIA) in 1959. The radioimmunoassay is a method of chemically analyzing human blood and tissue and is used diagnose illness (like diabetes). RIA revolutionized diagnoses because it uses only a tiny sample of blood or tissue and is a relatively inexpensive and simple test to perform. Blood banks use RIA to screen blood; RIA is used to detect drug use, high blood pressure, infertility, and many other conditions and diseases. For inventing RIA, Yalow won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1977 (Yalow accepted for Berson, who died in 1972). Yalow and Berson did not patent the RIA; instead they allowed the common use of RIA to benefit human health.

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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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Clothing Communication Food Fun Medicine Science/Industry Transportation Undersea
African-Americans Women British Isles China France Germany Greece Italy Scandinavia USA/Canada
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