March 14th is a good day for scientist. It is Pi day, Genius Day and Celebrate Scientists Day. To that end, I want to talk about some of the people who have made your life better because frankly, they were tired of technology and wanted something better. So today, we celebrate them.
First up, let’s talk about Ajay Bhatt, the co-inventor of USB. Just about everyone knows what USB is today. The story goes, he got sick of all the printer ports and cables he had to use in the old days and decided there had to be a better way. So, he led a team from seven different technology companies and behold, those funny rectangular shaped plugs we use for everything from printers to webcams to displays to smart phone connections.
Just about everyone has heard of that popular actress Hedy Lamarr (That’s Hedy, not Hedley for all you Blazing Saddles fans) but few realize that she was a brilliant and gifted inventor. In fact, during World War II she invented a type of radio communication that was coded to allow torpedoes of the Allies to be guided to their targets. This technique, called Frequency Hopping, is used in everyday inventions we take for granted, such as your GPS, Bluetooth and your Wi-Fi.
What about the weather forecasting? The first measurements of the atmosphere were taken in 1924 using RADAR (Radio Detection and Ranging) by British Physicist Sir Edward Victor Appleton. This invention later became what we use today to detect speeders, help land planes, predict the weather and even take ultrasounds of our bodies.
Last but not least, we have Douglas Engelbart and Bill English, the inventors of everyone’s favorite desktop rodent, the mouse. They received a patent in November of 1970 for their invention “the X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System”. It was first made of wood and had a single button. This simple design has gone on to influence all sorts of other input devices, including light pens and even some of the touchscreens used on today’s smart phones and tablets.
These people, with their inventions went on profoundly change the world and what we take for granted each and every day. So, what are you going to invent today?