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Dean Kamen (b. 1951) demonstrating his iBOT invention to President Bill Clinton in the Oval Office.

A timeline of United States inventions (after 1991) encompasses the ingenuity and innovative advancements of the United States within a historical context, dating from the Contemporary era to the present day, which have been achieved by inventors who are either native-born or naturalized citizens of the United States. Patent protection secures a person's right to his or her first-to-invent claim of the original invention in question, highlighted in Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution which gives the following enumerated power to the United States Congress:

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.

In 1641, the first patent in North America was issued to Samuel Winslow by the General Court of Massachusetts for a new method of making salt.[1][2][3] On April 10, 1790, President George Washington signed the Patent Act of 1790 (1 Stat. 109) into law which proclaimed that patents were to be authorized for "any useful art, manufacture, engine, machine, or device, or any improvement therein not before known or used."[4] On July 31, 1790, Samuel Hopkins of Pittsford, Vermont became the first person in the United States to file and to be granted a patent for an improved method of "Making Pot and Pearl Ashes."[5] The Patent Act of 1836 (Ch. 357, 5 Stat. 117) further clarified United States patent law to the extent of establishing a patent office where patent applications are filed, processed, and granted, contingent upon the language and scope of the claimant's invention, for a patent term of 14 years with an extension of up to an additional 7 years.[4] However, the Uruguay Round Agreements Act of 1994 (URAA) changed the patent term in the United States to a total of 20 years, effective for patent applications filed on or after June 8, 1995, thus bringing United States patent law further into conformity with international patent law.[6] The modern-day provisions of the law applied to inventions are laid out in Title 35 of the United States Code (Ch. 950, sec. 1, 66 Stat. 792).

From 1836 to 2011, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has granted a total of 7,861,317 patents[7] relating to several well-known inventions appearing throughout the timeline below.

Post–Cold War and the mid-to-late 1990s (1992–1999)

1992 Spinner (wheel)

1994 CMOS image sensor

Early prototype of a CMOS image sensor

A CMOS image sensor (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) is an image sensor consisting of an integrated circuit containing an array of pixel sensors, each pixel containing a photodetector and an active amplifier. Starting at the same point, they have to convert light into electrons by using the CMOS process. CMOS image sensors can be found in digital SLR cameras, embedded web-cams, video cameras, automotive safety systems, swallowable-pill cameras, toys and video games, and wireless video-security networks. Sunetra Mendis, Eric Fossum, and Sabrina E Kemeny invented the CMOS image sensor while working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.[9][need quotation to verify] On January 28, 1994, JPL-NASA filed U.S. patent #5,471,515, which was issued on November 28, 1995.[10]

1994 DNA computing

DNA computing uses DNA, biochemistry and molecular biology, instead of the traditional silicon-based computer technologies. DNA computing, or, more generally, molecular computing, is a fast-developing interdisciplinary area.[citation needed] Research and development in this area concerns theory, experiments and applications of DNA computing. DNA computing is fundamentally similar to parallel computing in that it takes advantage of the many different molecules of DNA to try many different possibilities at once. Leonard Adleman of the University of Southern California initially pioneered this field in 1994. Adleman demonstrated a proof-of-concept use of DNA as a form of computation which solved the seven-point Hamiltonian path problem.[11]

1994 Segway PT The Segway PT is a two-wheeled, self-balancing, zero-emission, electric vehicle used for "personal transport". Segways have had success in niche markets such as transportation for police departments, military bases, warehouses, corporate campuses or industrial sites, as well as in tourism. The earliest patent resembling the modern Segway PT, U.S. patent #6,357,544, was filed on May 27, 1994 and issued to Dean Kamen on December 30, 1997.[12] Kamen introduced his invention to the public in 2001.[13]

1994 Quantum cascade laser

A quantum cascade laser is a sliver of semiconductor material about the size of a tick. Inside, electrons are constrained within layers of gallium and aluminum compounds, called quantum wells are[clarification needed] nanometers thick, much smaller than the thickness of a hair. Electrons jump from one energy level to another, rather than moving smoothly between levels and tunnel from one layer to the next going "through" rather than "over" energy barriers separating the wells. When the electrons jump, they emit photons of light. The quantum cascade laser was co-invented by Alfred Y. Cho, Claire F. Gmachl, Federico Capasso, Deborah Sivco, Albert Hutchinson, and Alessandro Tredicucci at Bell Laboratories in 1994.[14] On April 4, 1994, the Bell Labs team filed U.S. patent #5,457,709 that was issued on October 10, 1995.[15]

1995 Bose–Einstein condensate

1995 Screenless hammer mill

1995 Scroll wheel

1995 JavaScript

1996 Adobe Flash

1996 Bait car

1997 Virtual reality therapy

1998 HVLS fan

1999 Torino scale

1999 Phase-change incubator

1999 iBOT

1999 Camera phone

2000s decade

2001 iPod

2002 SERF

2003 Fermionic condensate

2005 YouTube

2006 Blu-ray Disc

2007 Nanowire battery

2007 iPhone

2007 Amazon Kindle

2008 Bionic contact lens

2009 3-D camera

2010s decade

2010 iPad

The January 27, 2010, launch of the iPad by Apple, Inc. marked the first large-scale commercial release of a tablet computer.

2012 3D bioprinting

Three dimensional (3D) bioprinting is the utilization of 3D printing–like techniques to combine cells, growth factors, and/or biomaterials to fabricate biomedical parts, often with the aim of imitating natural tissue characteristics. In 2012, otolaryngologist Glenn Green led a team that bioengineered one of the first synthetic tracheas to stabilize the breathing of a struggling baby.

2013 Smart doorbell

Jamie Siminoff introduced the Ring video doorbell in 2013, providing an internet-connected doorbell that notifies the homeowner on his or her device when a visitor arrives at the door.[35] These devices also combined motion-sensing video monitoring with door alert capabilities for the first time.[35] The global smart doorbell market was valued at $2.667 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach $14.441 billion by 2031.[36]

A reusable Falcon 9 rocket lifts off.

2015 Reusable launch vehicle

2020s decade

2020 COVID-19 Vaccines

See also


  1. ^ "History of Patent Law". IP Legal Services. August 29, 2021.
  2. ^ James W. Cortada, "Rise of the knowledge worker, Volume 8 of Resources for the knowledge-based economy", Knowledge Reader Series, Butterworth-Heinemann, 1998, p. 141, ISBN 0-7506-7058-4, ISBN 978-0-7506-7058-6.
  3. ^ "Manufactures of the United States in 1860; compiled from the original returns of the eighth census, under the direction of the Secretary of the interior", Publisher: Government Printing Office, Washington, 1865, p. cxcix: "Salt-making was commenced at Salein in 1636, and in 1641 Samuel Winslow was allowed, for 10 years, the exclusive right of making salt in Massachusetts by a new method."
  4. ^ a b "Chapter 4: An Overview of Patents". Digital Law Online.
  5. ^ "First U.S. Patent Issued Today in 1790". United States Patent and Trademark Office. May 2024.
  6. ^ "2701 Patent Term [R-2]". United States Patent and Trademark Office.
  7. ^ "Table of Issue Years and Patent Numbers, for Selected Document Types Issued Since 1836". United States Patent and Trademark Office.
  8. ^ "Automotive wheel enhancers". United States Patent and Trademark Office.
  9. ^ "Active Pixel Sensor with Intra-Pixel Charge Transfer". National Inventors Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on August 4, 2011.
  10. ^ "Active pixel sensor with intra-pixel charge transfer". United States Patent and Trademark Office.
  11. ^ "Molecular Computation Of Solutions To Combinatorial Problems" (PDF). Science Journal. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 6, 2005.
  12. ^ Human Transporter, United States Patent and Trademark Office
  13. ^ "About Segway – Who We Are". Segway. Archived from the original on September 1, 2011.
  14. ^ "The Team". Bell Laboratories. Archived from the original on December 13, 2011.
  15. ^ "Unipolar semiconductor laser". United States Patent and Trademark Office.
  16. ^ "Bose-Einstein Condensation, A New Form of Matter". University of Washington.
  17. ^ "Screenless hammermill". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Archived from the original on May 3, 2003.
  18. ^ "Computing History Displays: Fifth Floor – The Computer Mouse". University of Auckland.
  19. ^ "System and method of adjusting display characteristics of a displayable data". United States Patent and Trademark Office.
  20. ^ "The History of JavaScript". The New York Times Company. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012.
  21. ^ "The History of Flash". Adobe. Archived from the original on August 21, 2014.
  22. ^ "Virtual Reality Battles PTSD 9 2011". CNN. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021.
  23. ^ "HVLS History". MacroAir Technologies, Inc. Archived from the original on September 2, 2011.
  24. ^ "About the Torino Scale". GNO, Inc.
  25. ^ "Student's low-cost solution aids high-tech problem in Africa". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. November 24, 1999.
  26. ^ Life on wheels: the A to Z guide to living fully with mobility issues. Demos Medical Publishing. August 27, 2008. ISBN 9781935281108.
  27. ^ "System and method for stair climbing in a cluster-wheel vehicle". United States Patent and Trademark Office.
  28. ^ Allred, J.; Lyman, R.; Kornack, T.; Romalis, M. (2002). "High-Sensitivity Atomic Magnetometer Unaffected by Spin-Exchange Relaxation". Physical Review Letters. 89 (13): 130801. Bibcode:2002PhRvL..89m0801A. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.89.130801. PMID 12225013.
  29. ^ "NIST/University of Colorado Scientists Create New Form of Matter: A Fermionic Condensate". University of Colorado. Archived from the original on December 7, 2006.
  30. ^ "Sulfur in hollow nanofibers overcomes challenges of lithium-ion battery design". Stanford University. October 4, 2011.
  31. ^ "Silicon nanowire battery holds 10 times the charge of existing ones". Digital Journal.
  32. ^ "Vision of the Future Seen in Bionic Contact Lens". NBC News. January 21, 2008.
  33. ^ "Babak Parviz: An Engineer With a Bionic Eye". United States Department of State. Archived from the original on August 29, 2010.
  34. ^ "Time's Best Inventions of 2008". Time Inc. October 29, 2008. Archived from the original on November 2, 2008.
  35. ^ a b "19 Inventions That Have Changed the World in the Last Decade". Reader's Digest. April 5, 2023.
  36. ^ "Smart Doorbell Market Research, 2031". Allied Market Research. 2022.
  37. ^ "The First Reusable Rocket Is Here". The Atlantic. November 24, 2015.
  38. ^ "SpaceX on Twitter". Twitter. Archived from the original on September 20, 2020. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  39. ^ April 2019, Mike Wall 12 (April 12, 2019). "SpaceX Recovered Falcon Heavy Nose Cone, Plans to Re-fly it This Year (Photos)". Archived from the original on February 9, 2021. Retrieved April 29, 2019.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)

Further reading