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 1. Lewis Latimer Louis Latimer received a patent for an improved process for manufacturing the carbon filaments in light bulbs. These improvements allowed for a reduction in time to produce and an increase in quality. During his life time he had worked with and for Alexander Bell, Hiram Maxim and Thomas Edison. Latimer was the only black member of an exclusive social group, the Edison Pioneers.
 2. George W. Carver One of the 20th century's greatest scientists, George Washington Carver's influence is still being felt today. Rising from slavery to become one of the world's most respected and honored men, he devoted his life to understanding nature and the many uses for the simplest of plant life. He is best known for developing crop-rotation methods for conserving nutrients in soil and discovering hundreds of new uses for crops such as the peanut.
 3. James Watt James Watt's improvements in 1769 and 1784 to the steam engine converted a machine of limited use, to one of efficiency and many applications. It was the foremost energy source in the emerging Industrial Revolution, and greatly multiplied its productive capacity. Watt was a creative genius who radically transformed the world from an agricultural society into an industrial one. Through Watt’s invention of the first practical steam engine, our modern world eventually moved from a 90% rural basis to a 90% urban basis
 4. Henry Ford Henry Ford realized he'd need a more efficient way to mass produce cars in order to lower the price. He looked at other industries and found four principles that would further their goal: interchangeable parts, continuous flow, division of labor, and reducing wasted effort. Ford put these principles into play gradually over five years, fine-tuning and testing as he went along. In 1913, they came together in the first moving assembly line ever used for large-scale manufacturing. Ford produced cars at a record-breaking rate.
 5. Alessandro Volta Alessandro Volta, Italian physicist, known for his pioneering work in electricity. Volta was born in Como and educated in the public schools there. By 1800 he had developed the so-called voltaic pile, a forerunner of the electric battery, which produced a steady stream of electricity. In honor of his work in the field of electricity, the electrical unit known as the volt was named in his honor.
 6. Johannes Gutenberg In 1440, German inventor Johannes Gutenberg invented a printing press process that, with refinements and increased mechanization, remained the principal means of printing until the late 20th century. The inventor's method of printing from movable type, including the use of metal molds and alloys, a special press, and oil-based inks, allowed for the first time the mass production of printed books. 
  7. Charles Drew The American Red Cross blood program of today is a direct result of the work of medical pioneer Dr. Charles Drew, beginning in 1940 and throughout World War II. Dr. Drew was instrumental in developing blood plasma processing, storage and transfusion therapy. His groundbreaking work in the large-scale production of human plasma was eventually used by the U.S. Army and the American Red Cross as the basis for blood banks..
 8. Thomas Alva Edison The modern world is an electrified world. The light bulb, in particular, profoundly changed human existence by illuminating the night and making it hospitable to a wide range of human activity. The electric light, one of the everyday conveniences that most affects our lives, was invented in 1879 by Thomas Alva Edison. He put together what he knew about electricity with what he knew about gas lights and invented a whole of electrical system.
  9. Ruth Handler Ruth Handler invented an anatomically improbable molded plastic statuette named Barbie. Since its debut in 1959,  the Barbie doll has become an American icon that functions as both a steady outlet for girls' dreams and an ever changing reflection of American society. This can be seen in the history of Barbie's clothes, and even her various "face lifts" to suit the times; in her professional, political and charitable endeavors; and more recently in the multi-culturalizing of her product line.
10. Leonardo da Vinci Fascinating facts about Leonardo da Vinci, whose innovations in the field scientific studies—particularly in the fields of anatomy, optics, and hydraulics—anticipated many of the developments of modern science.
* Based on page views at The Great Idea Finder during 2006.
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