National Inventors Month, observed every May, celebrates human ingenuity. If it weren’t for the creativity of inventors through the ages, we would still be traveling on horseback, writing with quills, and heck, tediously cutting a loaf of bread every morning. That’s right. Someone came up with the idea of sliced bread, the breakfast staple we all take for granted. Most objects we see around today were the brainchildren of folks who thought out of the box. Here’s to the imaginations and courage of all inventors!
History of National Inventors Month
National Inventors Month started as a collaboration between the United Inventors Association of the USA (UIA-USA), the Academy of Applied Science, and “Inventors Digest”.
First recognized in August 1998 to celebrate creativity, ingenuity, curiosity, and the courage to experiment, National Inventors Month has continued to recognize the talented individuals who have changed history through their inventions.
Then, in 2011, the decision was made to move National Inventors Month to May to coincide with the annual National Inventors Hall of Fame ceremony as well as to better align with the academic calendar. Celebrating inventors in May allows teachers the opportunity to encourage innovation and creativity through invention while students are still in class. This is the time to draw attention to the contributions of men and women across the world and across the centuries.
Since 1973, the National Inventors Hall of Fame has inducted over 600 individuals. This elite group of individuals are nominated and selected based on: (1) the inventor holds a US patent, (2) their invention has made a significant contribution to society and/or their industry, (3) the inventor has persevered to overcome obstacles in their journey, and (4) the inventor is also seen as a leader in their field contributing to future generations of American inventors.
National Inventors Month timeline
This hit reality television show introduces America to countless scrappy entrepreneurs who display their inventions (or new business ideas) each week. You might just pick up some inspiration.
Inventor Hall of Fame Begins
The National Inventors Hall of Fame kicks off their annual event where individual engineers and inventors who hold a US patent for a significant technological invention are honored.
The greatest invention since, well...
Otto Rohwedder introduced his bread slicing machine at a Missouri grocery store. Two years later, Wonder Bread took this incredible innovation nationwide. Sliced bread is so great because, prior to that, children would often injure themselves with knives while trying to make a simple sandwich.
The Great Exhibition
The Crystal Palace in London transformed into the "Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations." The venue hosted the world's most exciting innovations and discoveries. World's Fairs have since become a global stage for countries to promote their ingenuity and design talent. Notable inventions that debuted at World's Fairs include the cotton gin, zippers, monorails, x-rays, and jet packs.
National Inventors Month FAQs
Who was the first person to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame?
Thomas Alvin Edison was the first inductee into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1973.
How much does it cost to patent an idea?
Depending on the complexity of your idea and whether you engage a patent attorney, the cost to file a patent can range from $900 – $17,000.
What are the greatest inventions of all time?
According to InvestorPlace, the inventions that most changed the course of history are the wheel, electricity, Penicillin, semiconductor mechanics, and optical lenses.
National Inventors Month Activities
Support a Kickstarter campaign
A lot of Kickstarter campaigns (Kickstarter.com) are about inventive products that have the potential to change the game. In the spirit of creativity, fund a Kickstarter campaign that inspires your passion.
Go after your dreams
Many of us have our own ideas and dreams for products which, if pursued, would result in successful inventions. Too often, we let the fear of failure discourage us from pursuing our far-fetched ideas so, this month, take that leap and start discussions with experts who can help you make those dreams reality!
Visit the museum
The National Inventors Hall of Fame operates a museum in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia. Here, you’ll find artifacts and documents about some of your favorite inventions plus details of their programs that inspire next-generation inventors to go after their dreams. Admission is free.
5 Fun Facts About Our Favorite Inventions
Gunpei Yokoi, the inventor of Game Boy, started his career at Nintendo maintaining assembly-line machines when the CEO, on a visit to his plant, noticed Yokoi playing his homemade toy.
Chocolate Chip Cookie
Ruth Wakefield is known for making the first chocolate chip cookie; she sold her delicious invention to Nestle for one dollar and a lifetime supply of their chocolate.
John Peake Knight invented the traffic light in England in order to regulate horse-drawn carriage traffic, 18 years before the automobile was invented.
World Wide Web
Tim Berners-Lee invented the web as a means of sharing information between scientists and universities; he chose not to patent his invention out of concern it would make the web too expensive for us to use.
Earle Dickson, an employee of Johnson & Johnson, invented what we know today as the Band-aid because his wife would often cut and burn herself while cooking; he created a bandage prototype for her to use at home.
Why We Love National Inventors Month
It fuels imagination
Creativity is one of the most effective outlets to relieve stress and anxiety. Creativity is also contagious. So, this month, as you learn about inventors throughout history, get ready to be inspired and have a nice break from the day-to-day stressors of life!
It can spark business ideas
Researching past inventions can also lead to new business ideas. When you dig around the world of inventors and inventions, you might come across something useful for your existing business, or even helpful in establishing a new one. Don't quit your day job just yet, though!
It’s a fun history lesson
Learning the origin of the products we use every day is fascinating. Many inventions were brought to life by sheer accident whereas others were the result of a specific dream the inventor conceived in their minds. Either way, we love stories that have happy endings and there are many from the stories of our modern-day inventions.
National Inventors Month dates