Veterans Day is a day set aside to honor the men and women who have served—and currently serve—our country. These men and women have made sacrifices for our freedom and protection, and it is our duty to celebrate them.
What might surprise you is the fact that beyond serving our country, many veterans have another specialty: invention. That’s right, as it turns out, there are quite a few veteran inventors who have changed the world with their ideas.
In honor of Veterans Day on November 11, we’ve decided to highlight some of those gifted and talented veteran inventors who have created incredible things.
In WWII, John Goodenough was a meteorologist, but that was only part of his career. He is also the man responsible for the lithium-ion battery.
Yes, that’s right, a veteran inventor is responsible for the battery that charges our cell phones, laptops, digital cameras, and more.
When the lithium-ion battery was first created, it had a tendency to explode, but John Goodenough changed all that. He and his team of researchers were the ones to find a stable combination of cobalt oxide, which is a crucial component of today’s lithium-ion batteries.
(source: NY Times)
Wilson Greatbatch was a military radioman who served during World War II before receiving an honorable discharge. After his military service ended, he attended Cornell University as part of the GI Bill and became an American engineer.
It was after that time that Wilson Greatbatch invented the implantable cardiac pacemaker. One of his 150 patents, Greatbatch is responsible for around three million pacemakers around the world, with an additional 600,000 being implanted every year. Before Greatbatch, pacemakers were bulky external units. He managed to miniaturize the package and device for human implantation.
Norman Woodland was a member of the Army Air Corp who worked as a technical assistant for the Manhattan Project. However, what he is most known for is being the inventor of the optical scanning barcode.
It all started in 1948 when Woodland and his classmates overheard a conversation between Supermarket executives and professors at his college talking about how to process information automatically in their stores. The school wasn’t interested in helping, but Woodland was. A few years later, he had the idea and initial plans ready for the barcode system, but it wouldn’t be until 1974 that the first barcode was scanned in a grocery store.
A U.S. Army Sergeant, Gary Walters is responsible for creating the prosthesis cooling system.
After losing his leg from an exploded IED, Walters discovered that the limb-to-socked interface for his prosthetic limb was hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable. So, as a veteran inventor, he decided to do something about it. Walters, alongside a team of eight others, created Leto Solutions to discover a remedy: the Alquiloix Prosthesis Cooling System, which helps to cool and dry the interface so it stays comfortable
(source: Heinz History Center)
If you know inventors, you’ve probably heard of George Westinghouse and the Westinghouse Electric Company. But did you know that before becoming an inventor, Westinghouse enlisted in the Union Army at 17 and served from 1862-1863 before joining the Union Navy as an engineer and being discharged in 1865?
After the military, Westinghouse was responsible for many incredible inventions including the adoption of alternating current for electric power transmission. Other patents held by Westinghouse included:
(source: Hammon Organ)
A World War 1 veteran inventor, Laurens Hammond is responsible for the creation and manufacturing of the first electric organ in 1935.
This device was an alternative to expensive, wind-driven pipe organs, and it came to fame when Jimmy Smith, a legendary jazz musician, used the Hammond organ as his iconic instrument.
However, that was only the start for Hammond. During his lifetime, he went on to hold 110 patents.
This article offers just a sampling of the incredible veteran inventors that have changed our world. The truth is that no matter your background, the potential to develop and patent incredible products and ideas is always there. Do you have a favorite military inventor? Let us know in the comments!
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