Who invented inventions?


Inventor's fate: forgotten

For many inventors, the dream of success also means the desire to become rich and famous and to receive recognition. However, this success is only granted to a few. Heron of Alexandria is an example of how easily progress can be delayed.

Heron lived and worked in Alexandria, the center of Greco-Roman science, in the 1st century AD. The mathematician and engineer constructed heavy doors that opened as if by magic when a priest lit the sacred fire in a bowl in front of the temple.

But that was no magic: Heron heated water and thus generated steam. The engineer used the resulting pressure to move cable winches. He had invented a steam engine. But the Greeks saw the door as a gimmick of mechanics.

Even the Romans, who were enthusiastic about technology, found no use for a steam engine that could replace labor. The empire had enough slaves after all. Heron's knowledge was thus forgotten - and steam as a driving force remained unused until the late 17th century.

The fight for the patent

Who invented it? Many inventors have to grapple with this question. Often several inventors arrive at the same insight independently of one another. The first successful attempts at flight are usually attributed to the Wright brothers.

In 1903 the two flew for the first time in a self-constructed double-decker motorized airplane. But two years earlier, the trained engine fitter Gustav Wei├čkopf is said to have flown with a motorized vehicle. The German, who lived in the United States, is said to have lifted off the ground for half a mile. However, there are no photos of this premiere.

The telephone is also a child of many fathers. In the fight for the patent, Alexander Graham Bell prevailed. He filed his patent application on February 14, 1876, one - two hours earlier than Elisha Gray. Or maybe the fame belongs to a third person.

As early as 1861, the German Philipp Reis telephoned with a device he had invented. Unfortunately, he didn't have the money to improve the technology of his phone and realize the potential of his invention. He died bitterly in 1873.

Inventors in the 21st century - between genius and marketing

The competition is fierce in the 21st century - from the hobby inventor to the professional who works in research. In addition, the markets are saturated. It's hard to come up with something really innovative and land a real sensation.

This is also shown by the figures from the German Patent and Trademark Office: in 2016 exactly 67,897 patents were registered, but only 15,693 were granted this year. That doesn't mean that the patent will be implemented successfully. Only a few inventors manage to market their patent.

A brilliant thought alone is not enough. The modern inventor has to manage himself and his innovations skillfully - and that is not easy. A tinkerer can get support, for example from the SIGNO project.

That is the funding initiative "Protection of ideas for commercial use". With this project, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology supports inventor clubs at universities and companies as well as individual inventors in Germany.

The largest independent association of inventors in Germany is the German Inventors' Association (DEV). The 500 members include working people, the unemployed, housewives and men, pensioners, but also people who work full-time as inventors.

Crazy or awesome?

How do inventors differ from other people? What infected you? Are you crazy or just awesome? "You are persistent, more practical and gifted with a good dose of imagination."

This is what Karl Bauch, the chairman of the board of the German Inventors' Association and a tinkerer himself, says: "I spend all of my free time inventing. And when I don't invent, then I am creative in a different way.