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Top 10 Innovators Who Changed The World

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nick Roffey
Written by Nick Roffey Known for their inventions, ideas, and creative work, these talented people changed the way we live our lives! WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Innovators Who Changed the World. But who will take the top spot on our list? Will it be Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, or Nikola Tesla? Watch to find out! Watch on WatchMojo: If you an idea for what video we should do next? Submit your suggestion here on our suggest page: https://www.WatchMojo.commy/suggest.php

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The world would look pretty different without the breakthroughs of these great innovators. Welcome to, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Innovators who Changed the World.

For this list, we're looking at inventors, entrepreneurs, and visionaries whose groundbreaking ideas altered the course of history, ranked according to creativity, ingenuity, and influence.

#10: Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Without him, you wouldn’t be surfing the internet. Tim Berners-Lee is the English computer scientist who in 1989 invented the World Wide Web - the system of interlinked hypertext documents that allows us to browse the internet. At the time, Berners-Lee worked for CERN, and wanted a way for scientists to keep track of and share research information. But the World Wide Web soon became one of the most important communications medium of all time - connecting people all over the world. Since then, Berners-Lee hasn’t rested on his laurels; he holds positions at MIT and Oxford, is director of the World Wide Web Consortium, and a leading advocate of net neutrality.

#9: Galileo Galilei

Disgraced in his time, but celebrated today, Italian polymath and intellectual rebel Galileo Galilei is sometimes called “the father of the scientific method”. He’s best known for arguing that the Earth orbits the Sun, a proposal that aroused fierce scientific and religious opposition. Nicolaus Copernicus had proposed a heliocentric model in the sixteenth century, but Galileo had hard evidence, having made his own telescope and observed moons orbiting Jupiter rather than Earth. The Roman Inquisition found his theory foolish, absurd, and heretical, and condemned Galileo to house arrest for the rest of his life. But his ideas lived on, and we know now he was right all along.

#8: The Wright Brothers

Man has dreamed of flying for millenia. But it was American brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright who made it possible for us to soar like the birds. Until the Wrights built and flew the world’s first successful airplane in 1903, human flight was restricted to kites, gliders, hot air balloons, and hydrogen dirigibles. Their designs revolutionized aviation, in particular their invention of three-axis control - giving pilots direct control over the pitch, yaw, and roll of the plane. Through dogged persistence, they achieved the world’s first powered flights, making modern aviation possible. Not bad for men who built and tested their ideas in a bicycle shop.

#7: Marie Curie

Marie Curie was not only the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize, she was also the first person to receive it twice - in both physics and chemistry. Born in Poland, Curie studied and worked in Paris, where she pioneered research into radioactivity, and with her husband Pierre discovered the elements polonium and radium. At a time where all the odds were stacked against female scientists, Curie blazed new trails. Although radiation probably caused her early death at 66, her research paved the way for radiation therapy and atomic energy, earning her the moniker the “Mother of Modern Physics”.

#6: Steve Jobs

For some, Apple has become something of a religion. But whether you’re an acolyte, or an Android user, it’s difficult to deny the impact Apple’s founder Steve Jobs has had on the modern world. A central figure in the home computer revolution, Jobs was pushed out of Apple in 1985, but returned in triumphant fashion a little over a decade later to oversee the rollout of the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad. As a person, Jobs has often been described in less than flattering terms - but without doubt, his uncompromising vision and flair for design have radically changed the way we use technology.

#5: Henry Ford

The first automobiles remained the extravagant playthings of the upper class - until American industrialist Henry Ford revolutionized production. In 1903, at age 39, Ford founded the Ford Motor Company, and in 1908 introduced the iconic Model T, priced at just $825. By creating the world’s first moving assembly lines, Ford was able to minimize costs, maximize production, and at the same time pay his workers decent wages. Within a few years, the price of the Model T dropped to $360 and, for better or worse, automobiles took over the roads. Ford’s anti-semitism would leave a permanent stain on his reputation. But his method of mass production formed one of the cornerstones of modern economic systems.

#4: Charles Babbage

Charles Babbage was an English polymath with fingers in pretty much every intellectual pie imaginable. A professor who preferred learning over lecturing, he busied himself with breakthroughs in mathematics, astronomy, and cryptography, but it was his design in 1837 of the first general-purpose mechanical computer that earned him lasting fame. Although it relied on gears and punch cards, Babbage’s Analytical Engine had the same logical structure as a modern digital computer, and he’s remembered today as a prophetic visionary ahead of his time - inventing the computer almost one hundred years before Alan Turing conceived of the Turing Machine.

#3: Thomas Edison

What do the light bulb, the motion picture camera, and the phonograph have in common? We owe modern designs to American inventor and entrepreneur Thomas Edison, whose innovations were so miraculous he was dubbed “The Wizard of Menlo Park”. An astute businessman as well as a hands-on tinkerer, he held a staggering 1093 patents, and had a special talent for marketing his contraptions and developing existing ideas into practical realities. While his vicious feud with rival Nikola Tesla isn’t winning him many fans these days, Edison’s combination of ingenuity and business acumen fundamentally shaped the modern world.

#2: Nikola Tesla

Brilliant, eccentric, and prolific, Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla’s technologies power our homes and contributed to wireless communication. Born in the Austrian Empire, Tesla arrived in the US with little to his name, but soon quit a position at Thomas Edison’s Machine Works to strike out on his own. His alternating current induction motor emerged the eventual victor in the War of the Currents between himself and Edison. Tesla dreamt big, but sometimes struggled to finance his schemes, a fact embodied in his most ambitious experiment - Wardenclyffe Tower, meant to transmit power around the world, but demolished for scrap when funding collapsed. Still, it’s thanks to Tesla we can safely transmit electricity over long distances today.

Before we reveal the identity of our top pick, here are some honorable mentions:

Benjamin Franklin

Alexander Graham Bell

Bill Gates

#1: Leonardo da Vinci

A painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, and inventor, Italian artist and scientist Leonardo Da Vinci mastered more skills in his lifetime than many of us put together. In art, his attention to tone gradation, experiments with light and shade, and innovations in perspective and composition changed painting forever. He used meticulous anatomical studies to capture gestures and emotional expressions in rich, lifelike detail. In his spare time, he sketched inventions both practical and impossible - ranging from a parachute, tank, and helicopter, to a batlike flying machine and shoes for walking on water. Today, his iconic “Mona Lisa” attracts millions of visitors a year, and he remains an enduring symbol of universal genius and the Renaissance.

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