The Five Best Inventions of the Founding Fathers

Over at my tech blog at Forbes, I’ve counted down the Five Best Inventions of the Founding Fathers in honor of Independence Day.

And yes, if you’re wondering, Franklin does make the list twice.

FILED UNDER: Science & Technology, US Politics
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.


  1. Jay Tea says:

    You coulda done twice as many, just on Franklin… the man was amazing.


  2. Moosebreath says:

    Could have done far more on Jefferson as well.

  3. JKB says:

    To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

    And the Found Fathers’ interest in the useful arts prompted them to enshrine The Most Powerful Idea in the World in the Constitution, i.e. the protection of the right to profit from your ideas (for a limited time). Thus ensuring we shared in the advances in the well-being of mankind brought forth by the industrial revolution.

  4. Alex Knapp says:

    Actually, the Founders were divided on Patents. Franklin and Paine, for example, both opposed them and refused to patent their inventions.

  5. kelly says:

    What do you expect from an athiest anti American pig fu*%r like Alicks.

  6. MarkedMan says:

    I’m having trouble with the Thomas Paine bit. Didn’t he die long before gasoline was used as a “motive force”?

  7. JKB says:

    While it speaks well of Franklin and Paine for not seeking Patent for their inventions, we are indeed fortunate that Patent was included in our Constitution as the right of a person to a profit from their idea is what makes progress. Many today might lament the idea of the industrial revolution that resulted from the innovation revolution but they do so only because those many were inspired to invent by the prospect of profit giving them the time to lament rather than scrambling to eek out a subsistence in a harsh and unforgiving world.

  8. Franklin says:

    Patents may be great for truly innovative ideas, but they just don’t work in the category of software where very few if any of the ideas are innovative in any way.