When most people think of inventors they think of the classics – Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Michelangelo, etc. However, the baby boomers that have contributed to humankind in our own generation have come up with some of the coolest, most beneficial inventions to date.
It’s time that Baby Boomer Inventors receive their fair share of recognition for their innovations.
For example, what is cooler than a Segway Personal Transporter? Designed by baby boomer Dean Kamen, the Segway is only one of this inventor’s numerous inventions, which include the drug infusion pump Autosyringe. He also invented a power generator and water purification system, which he hopes will improve standards in developing countries. Kamen’s company, DEKA, also holds patents for the technology used in portable dialysis machines, an all-terrain electric wheelchair (the iBOT) as well as innovative educational programs to help inspire young people about science, technology and engineering.
World Wide Web
Truly heralding a new era in human communication and interaction, the World Wide Web is an astounding invention. Originally conceived by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the world wide web has become the most powerful means of communication ever developed. Berners-Lee, born to mathematician parents in 1955 in London, UK, liked to tinker with electronics and built his own computer in the mid-1970’s. He came up the concept for the web in 1989, which he laid out on paper. He developed the first web browser, which he made available to others in 1991. As they say, the rest is history.
In collaboration with Stevie Wonder, Ray Kurzweil invented the musical synthesizer in 1983. He worked with various musicians (Paul McCartney, Earth Wind and Fire, etc.) to develop synthesizers that would reproduce and replicate various instruments, depending on the style of music being played. He went on to invent the Kurzweil Reading Machine, a device that can decipher printed and typed documents and read them aloud. This has enabled vast printed libraries and storehouses of documents to be digitized and made available on the internet as well as making it easier for people who are blind to access printed publications.
Sir Alec Jeffries, born in 1950 in Oxford, UK, discovered sequences within strands of DNA that differ from each other, allowing identification unique ridge patterns on fingertips. This has led to DNA forensics and the ability of the criminal justice system to correctly link crime suspects to crime scenes. This has enabled law enforcement to more accurately identify criminals and absolve those wrongly accused.
Both Steve Wozniak, born in 1950, and his future partner Steve Jobs, born in 1955, grew up in the San Francisco area. When both were summer interns at electronics manufacturer Hewlett-Packard, they got to know each other. Thirty-five years ago, in 1977, they created and marketed the Apple II personal computer, which included color graphics, a sound card, expansion slots, and other features that made it the earliest version of a PC. And they launched a technological revolution.
These are only a few of the many inventions that have been contributed by people born during the baby boomer generation, the years between 1946 and 1964. It’s time for everyone to be aware of the genius that resides in our current generation of “older Americans” and give them their due recognition.
What is your favorite baby boomer invention or inventor? We’d love to hear your opinion!