10 famous inventions that created controversy
Most people credit Italian astronomer, physicist and mathematician Galileo Galilee for the invention of the telescope. Instead, we have Dutchman Hans Lippershey to thank (although you’ll never read about him in your childhood textbooks). In 1608, Lippershey created the first ever telescope, but was denied a patent. Galileo caught wind of this invention and quickly made his own version.
In 1860, an Italian named Antonio Meucci first demonstrated his working telephone, (though he called it the "teletrofono”). Eleven years later, (still five years before Bell's phone came out), he filed a temporary patent on his invention, but failed to send in the $10 necessary to renew his patent.
Two years after that, Alexander Graham Bell, the man most people credit for the invention of the telephone, registered his patent.
The light bulb
Thomas Edison did experiment with perfecting the light bulb, but the credit goes to Heinrich Göebel, a precision mechanic and inventor from Germany. Göebel had it working in 1854 and actually tried to sell it to Edison who dismissed it as an impractical triviality.
The modern mechanical cotton gin was invented in 1793 by Eli Whitney. He applied for a patent later that year, which was granted in early 1794, but not validated until 1807. There is some controversy over whether the idea is properly credited. In a 1870s article in The Library of Southern Literature, it’s claimed that Catherine Littlefield Greene may have been the person who suggested that Whitney use a brush-like tool to separate the seeds and cotton.
The trail of controversy surrounding the invention of the popular board game, Monopoly can be traced back to 1936. This was the year Parker brothers introduced Monopoly after purchasing the rights from Charles Darrow, an unemployed salesman and inventor living in Pennsylvania.
Read more about the history of the Monopoly board game.
Several inventors are credited with inventing the television, including Paul Nipkow, John Logie Baird, Vladimir Zworykin and Philo Farnsworth. Early devices were based on an 1884 invention called a “scanning disk,” but major progress wasn’t made until 1921, when 14-year old Philo Farnsworth realized an electron beam could scan a picture in horizontal lines, reproducing the image almost instantaneously.
The controversy surrounding the invention of the radio involves two men – Nikola Tesla and Guglielmo Marconi. Tesla is credit for the initial idea of using radio waves for practical uses, but didn’t follow through on the idea, so Marconi is purported to be the man responsible for the first radio. A fight ensued over who should be the ‘Father of Radio.”
Who takes the inventor credit when several men played a part in the creation of the final product’s components? Although Thomas Edison is credited for inventing moving pictures in the U.S. and William Friese takes credit for the camera in the U.K., a Frenchman, Louis Le Prince combined the ideas to become the father of the first movie camera.
When inventor Robert Kearns first introduced his design for windshield wipers to Ford, his idea was rejected. Years later, Ford debuted a similar type of wipers. Kearns spent 15 years and $10 million in legal fees to fight the case. He lost.
The controversy over who first invented calculus (often referred to with the German term Prioritätsstreit, meaning ‘priority dispute’) was an argument between 17th-century mathematician Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz. mathematicians Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz over who had first invented calculus. It started in 1699 and became a full-blown controversy over intellectual property by 1711.