Top 25 Inventors Found in Libraries

Can you name their most famous inventions?

#wtworldcat #inventors

May is National Inventors' Month, and that got us thinking about who are the most popular inventors found in libraries. So we went to WorldCat and we built a list of the top 25 inventors found in books and movies.

The top of the list is not surprising; Franklin, Edison and Bell. These are men who’d we all probably think of first when ask about great inventors. But as you go down the list, its becomes interesting and the names less famous. So we played a game; Can you name what these inventors are most famous for?*

  1. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
  2. Thomas A. (Thomas Alva) Edison (1847-1931)
  3. Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922)
  4. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
  5. Nikola Tesla (1856-1943)
  6. The Wright Brothers 
    Orville Wright (1871-1948)
    Wilbur Wright (1867-1912)
  7. Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937)
  8. Robert Fulton (1765-1815)
  9. Samuel Finley Breese Morse (1791-1872)
  10. Eli Whitney (1765-1825)
  11. Philo Taylor Farnsworth (1906-1971)
  12. R. Buckminster (Richard Buckminster) Fuller (1895-1983)
  13. Margaret E. Knight (1838-1914)
  14. Steve Jobs (1955-2011)
  15. Elijah McCoy (1844-1929)
  16. William Kamkwamba (1987-)
  17. Henry Ford(1863-1947)
  18. Howard Hughes (1905-1976)
  19. John Harrison (1693-1776)
  20. James Watt (1736-1819)
  21. Steve Wozniak (1950-)
  22. Lewis Howard Latimer (1848-1928)
  23. George Washington Carver (1864-1943)
  24. Clarence Birdseye (1886-1956)
  25. Jan Ernst Matzeliger (1852-1889)

*We're not going to give you the answer. That would be too easy. We suggest you research them at your local library!

But what about library inventors? Well, at OCLC, we of course, are rather taken with Melvil Dewey and his Dewey Decimal System. So we’ll give him honorable mention here.

How the list was compiled

This list was generated from WorldCat using a subset of records with the FAST heading, "Inventors."  Personal names as subjects were then extracted from the records and ranked by holdings. The list order is based on the number of OCLC member libraries that hold a given title. WorldCat is the world's largest and most comprehensive catalog of library resources from around the world, with more than 314 million bibliographic records that represent more than 2 billion items held by participating libraries, including books, movies, music, e-books, licensed databases, online periodicals, digital collections and more. Because of its scale, WorldCat can be used to represent a large part of the scholarly and cultural record.

At OCLC Research, we're exploring records and mining WorldCat data to highlight interesting and different views of the world's library collections each month. Be sure to check out our "What in the WorldCat?" page often to see what we come up with next.