Quartz: “Why is there no Nobel Prize in technology?”

Angus Hervey has a great post on Quartz on why there should be a Nobel Prize for tech. I could not agree more. Some highlights:


Technology is at the source of all these changes, yet there’s still no prize for technologists. No prizes for the automobile, lightbulb, plane, mobile phone, or the internet. None for the inventor of the modern combine harvester or the team that sequenced the first human genome. Despite being responsible for inventions that have fundamentally altered the course of human history, no recognition for the genius of Nikola Tesla or Thomas Edison.

One way of looking at it is that when he was designing his categories, he wanted the prizes to only reflect advances in fundamental science. In this view, “lesser” sciences such as biology, geology, or computer science—or technology-driven fields such as engineering or robotics—don’t qualify. As genome-sequencing pioneer Eric Lander once said, “You don’t get a Nobel Prize for turning a crank.” But what then of literature and peace, or the newer prize for economics (an applied science at best, and a pseudoscience at worst)?

So in honor of those who won’t be acknowledged, here’s a list of 25 technologists and inventors who didn’t get a Nobel, but fit the criteria for inventions that have conferred the greatest benefit to humanity.

Name Year Invention
Wills Carrier 1902 Air conditioning
Orville Wright and Neville Wright 1903 Airplane
Alva J Fisher 1908 Electric washing machine
Henry Ford 1909 Assembly line
Thomas E. Murray 1910 Modern electrical grid
Fred Wolf 1913 Home refrigerator
John Logie Baird 1928 Home television
Thomas Carroll 1937 Self-propelled combine harvester
Katherine Blodgett 1938 Non-reflective glass
Grace Hopper 1950 COBOL programming language
Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller, and Gerald Pearson 1954 Modern solar photovoltaic panel
Frank Rosenblatt 1958 Artificial neural networks
Robert H. Goddard 1961 Modern rocketry
Malcom McLean 1964 Shipping-container system
Stephanie Kwolek 1965 Kevlar
Ray Tomlinson 1972 Email
Marty Cooper 1973 Cellular phone
Roger Easton, Ivan Getting and Bradford Parkinson 1974 Global Positioning System (GPS)
Raymond Vahan Damadian 1977 Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Stanley Whittingham and John Goodenough 1980 Lithium-ion battery
Tim Berners Lee 1991 World wide web
Steve Jobs 2007 iPhone
Anonymous (Satoshi Nakamoto) 2008 Bitcoin
Tsutomu Miyasaka, Nam-Gyu Park and Henry Snaith 2009 Perovskite solar cells
Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier 2012 CRISPR-Cas9

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