We’ve looked across history and geography at the men and women whose inventions have affected our lives—in both major ways (the electric light bulb, the elevator) and minor (the coffee filter, the crossword puzzle)—and picked those with the best baby-name potential.
And here are our top Nameberry picks of historic baby names based on those of important inventors:
Edison, Thomas—the most prolific and influential American inventor since Ben Franklin—think phonograph, motion picture camera, stock ticker, the first practical light bulb, the alkaline battery, to name a few. (Baby namers are now warming to his surname.)
Elisha Graves Otis didn’t invent the elevator but did invent the safety brake device that would make high-rise buildings possible. Another Elisha, Elisha Gray, invented his own version of the telephone, resulting in a major legal battle with Alexander Graham Bell.
Evangelista Torricilli—A seventeenth century Italian physicist and mathematician and one-time assistant to Galileo, he was the inventor of the barometer. (In twenty-first century America, however, this name would work better for a girl.)
Gideon Sundback—This Swedish-American electrical engineer and inventor filed a patent for the modern zipper in 1914.
Hedy Lamarr—Yes, that glamorous Hedy Lamarr—she co-invented a frequency-hopping communication system that eventually led in part to such developments as the modem, the cordless phone, Bluetooth and wi-fi.
Josephine Cochrane–a wealthy Midwestern woman who was heard to exclaim, “If nobody else is going to invent a dishwashing machine, I’ll do it myself.” Which is just what she did in 1886, designing the first practical mechanical dishwasher.
László Bíró—Budapest-born inventor of the now-ubiquitous ballpoint pen, still called a biro in the UK.
Leonardo da Vinci—one of the most creative minds in history: in addition to his vast artistic achievements da Vinci is credited with the invention of the parachute, the armored tank, and the ball bearing, to name just a few.
Luther Simijian—An Armenian-born inventor most famous for his conception of the Bankmatic automatic teller machine (ATM).
Philo Farnsworth–the farm boy who conceived the basic operating principles of electronic television at the age of thirteen.
Rune Elmquist—A Swedish doctor and engineer, he invented both the inkjet printer (1948) and the implantable pacemaker (1958).
Theophilius Van Kammel—an American inventor most famous for conceiving the revolving door, which he patented in 1888.
Ub Iwerks, born Ubbe–an animator and inventor who was Walt Disney’s oldest friend–was a special effects pioneer who co-invented the multiplane camera—and also conceived the appearance of Mickey Mouse.
Any of these inventive names appeal?
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