Virtual reality (Inventions)

The invention: The creation of highly interactive, computer-based multimedia environments in which the user becomes a participant with the computer in a “virtually real” world. The people behind the invention: Ivan Sutherland (1938- ), an American computer scientist Myron W. Krueger (1942- ), an American computer scientist Fred P. Brooks (1931- ), an American computer […]

Velcro (Inventions)

The invention: A material comprising millions of tiny hooks and loops that work together to create powerful and easy-to-use fasteners for a wide range of applications. The person behind the invention: Georges de Mestral (1904-1990), a Swiss engineer and inventor From Cockleburs to Fasteners Since prehistoric times, people have walked through weedy fields and arrived […]

Vending machine slug rejector (Inventions)

The invention: A device that separates real coins from counterfeits, the slug rejector made it possible for coin-operated vending machines to become an important marketing tool for many products The people behind the invention: Thomas Adams, the founder of Adams Gum Company Frederick C. Lynde, an Englishman awarded the first American patent on a vending […]


The invention: A device for recording and playing back movies and television programs, the videocassette recorder (VCR) revolutionized the home entertainment industry in the late 1970′s. The company behind the invention: Philips Corporation, a Dutch Company Videotape Recording Although television sets first came on the market before World War II, video recording on magnetic tape […]

Vacuum cleaner (Inventions)

The invention: The first portable domestic vacuum cleaner successfully adapted to electricity, the original machine helped begin the electrification of domestic appliances in the early twentieth century. The people behind the invention: H. Cecil Booth (1871-1955), a British civil engineer Melville R. Bissell (1843-1889), the inventor and marketer of the Bissell carpet sweeper in 1876 […]

Vacuum tube (Inventions)

The invention: A sealed glass tube from which air and gas have been removed to permit electrons to move more freely, the vacuum tube was the heart of electronic systems until it was displaced by transistors. The people behind the invention: Sir John Ambrose Fleming (1849-1945), an English physicist and professor of electrical engineering Thomas […]

Vat dye (Inventions)

The invention: The culmination of centuries of efforts to mimic the brilliant colors displayed in nature in dyes that can be used in many products. The people behind the invention: Sir William Henry Perkin (1838-1907), an English student in Hofmann’s laboratory Rene Bohn (1862-1922), a synthetic organic chemist Karl Heumann (1850-1894), a German chemist who […]

Ultramicroscope (Inventions)

The invention: A microscope characterized by high-intensity illumination for the study of exceptionally small objects, such as colloidal substances. The people behind the invention: Richard Zsigmondy (1865-1929), an Austrian-born German organic chemist who won the 1925 Nobel Prize in Chemistry H. F. W. Siedentopf (1872-1940), a German physicist-optician Max von Smouluchowski (1879-1961), a German organic […]

Ultrasound (Inventions)

The invention: A medically safe alternative to X-ray examination, ultrasound uses sound waves to detect fetal problems in pregnant women. The people behind the invention: Ian T. Donald (1910-1987), a British obstetrician Paul Langevin (1872-1946), a French physicist Marie Curie (1867-1946) and Pierre Curie (1859-1906), the French husband-and-wife team that researched and developed the field […]


The invention: The first commercially successful computer system. The people behind the invention: John Presper Eckert (1919-1995), an American electrical engineer John W. Mauchly (1907-1980), an American physicist John von Neumann (1903-1957), a Hungarian American mathematician Howard Aiken (1900-1973), an American physicist George Stibitz (1904-1995), a scientist at Bell Labs The Origins Of Computing On […]