Bar codes were invented by Bernard Silver and Norman Woodland in 1948. Their system used light to read a set of concentric circles, but they had to wait two decades before the advent of computers and lasers made their system practical. (However, the bar code system in use today is the Universal Product Code, introduced by IBM in 1973. The first bar coded item sold was a pack of gum in 1974.)
The computer was launched in 1943, more than 100 years after Charles Babbage designed the first programmable device. Babbage dropped his idea after he couldn't raise capital for it. In 1998, the Science Museum in London, UK, built a working replica of the Babbage machine, using the materials and work methods available at Babbage's time. It worked just as Babbage had intended.
More Inventions Facts
The first parachute jump was made from a hot air balloon by Andre-Jacques Garnerinthe in France in 1793. But Leonardo da Vinci had made detailed sketches of parachutes in 1485. He also sketched studies for a helicopter, a tank and retractable landing gear. The first helicopter that could carry a person was flown by Paul Cornu in 1907. Tanks were first used during World War One in Cambrai, France in 1917. The first airplane with retractable landing gear was built in 1933. Da Vinci also suggested underwater breathing methods. Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Emile Gagnon introduced scuba diving only in 1943, 458 years later.
Who invented the light bulb? No, it wasn't Thomas Edison. Light bulbs - in particular Starr's electric lamp - were in use 50 years before Edison applied for the patent in 1879. In addition, British inventor Joseph Swan was awarded a light bulb patent the previous year. Edison went on to make big buck from the light bulb but Swan sued Edison for infringement and won. As part of the settlement, Edison was forced to take Swan in as a partner but later bought him out in the company that was to become General Electric.
In 1883, the US Patent Office ruled that Edison's patent on the light bulb might have been based on that of William Sawyer and were invalid. It is not that Edison stole the idea: there are many examples of different people thinking up the same concept at more-or-less the same time.
Thomas Alva Edison (1847 - 1931) certainly was not a lazy guy. He filed 1,093 patents, including those for electric railways and the movie camera. When he died in 1931, he held 34 patents for the telephone, 141 for batteries, 150 for the telegraph and 389 patents for electric light and power. Unlike Leonardo da Vinci who never built the inventions he designed, Edison was not just a great theorist. He coined the phrase: "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." He also said: "There are no rules here. We're trying to get work done."