May is National Inventors Month. This annual celebration was created to promote the positive image of inventors and the real contributions they give to this world. In celebration of National Inventors Month, get to know these inventors who have shaped our society and improved our lives.


In the early 1950s, Stewart Adams, a pharmacologist at Boots Pure Drug Co. in England, was tasked with finding new treatments for rheumatoid arthritis. Adams was joined in 1956 by chemist John Nicholson, and the two collaborated over the next decade to develop ibuprofen. Today, ibuprofen is one of the safest, most effective and most widely used treatments for reducing the pain, fever and inflammation caused by conditions such as arthritis, headaches and the common cold.


Dr. Patricia Bath invented laserphaco, a new device and technique to remove cataracts. It performed all steps of cataract removal: making the incision, destroying the lens and vacuuming out the fractured pieces. Bath is recognized as the first Black woman physician to receive a medical patent.



Chieko Asakawa invented the Home Page Reader (HPR), the first practical voice browser to provide effective Internet access for blind and visually impaired computer users. Designed to enable users to surf the Internet and navigate Web pages through a computer’s numeric keypad instead of a mouse, HPR debuted in 1997; by 2003, it was widely used around the world.


Steve Jobs was just 21 in 1976 when he co-founded Apple Computer with his friend, NIHF Inductee Steve Wozniak. During his lifetime, he was a major influence on a number of industries, including personal computing, animated movies, music, smart phones, tablet computing, retailing, and digital publishing.

With Jobs as Apple CEO, the first Mac computer was launched in 1984. In 1985, Jobs left Apple and founded NeXT, Inc., a company which sold a desktop computer with advanced software. NeXT was eventually purchased by Apple in 1996. In 1986, Jobs acquired Pixar Animation Studios which went on to create computer-animated film hits, including Toy Story and Finding Nemo. Disney acquired Pixar in 2006. After Jobs returned to Apple as CEO in 1997, a number of popular Apple products were introduced, including the iMac®, the iPod®, the iPhone®, and the iPad® tablet computer. Jobs made critical contributions to the operating systems for the devices, the design of user interfaces, and the touch screen technology incorporated into them.


Nils Bohlin, while with Volvo, invented the three-point safety belt, a standard in the modern automobile. Early tests showed that the belt was effective in restraining the body in high-speed crashes and in preventing ejection. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in the U.S., the seat belt saves over four thousand lives and prevents over 100,000 injuries a year.

Bohlin was recruited in 1958 by Volvo to become its first safety engineer. Coming from the aerospace industry, Bohlin had seen stresses that the human body undergoes in high-speed crash situations, and he understood the limitations of restraint devices, particularly those that were uncomfortable and difficult to use. Following a year of extensive testing and engineering, Bohlin realized that straps across the chest and across the hips restrained people efficiently. His simple solution allowed a person to buckle up with just one hand. The seat belt proved so effective that Volvo sent Bohlin to America to promote his seat belt to the Consumer Products Safety Commission.





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