Who are some Famous Teenage Inventors

Throughout American history, teenage inventors have challenged the notion that only adults can have good ideas.

-Thomas Alva Edison, inventor of the light bulb and the phonograph, worked for Western Union Telegraph Company when he was a teen. Edison filled gaps in his schedule by working on inventions like the telephone and the microphone.

-18-year-old Rachel Segal of Ashland, Oregon, invented the Doodle Bra, a plain white bra that wearers can decorate with special colored markers that wash clean in the laundry. Segal picked up early on the customization craze that drives consumer product design today.

-Mary Rodas, a New York teen, invented the Balzac Balloon Ball, a product that brought more than $100 million of revenue to a toy company.

-In April 2009, Johnny Cohen, a 14 year old from Highland Park, Illinois, won $25,000 for designing a shield that makes buses more energy efficient.

The most innovative adults in the computer industry got their start as inquisitive, entrepreneurial teenagers.

Bill Gates, billionaire founder of Microsoft, wrote software code as a teen. Steve Jobs, inventor of the personal computer, got a summer job at Hewlett Packard while he was in high school. After graduation, Jobs designed video games for Atari.

What sets teen inventors apart from other teenagers? They are naturally curious risk takers who strive to improve everyday items in their lives. Other teens often view them as geeky and nerdy; indeed, many famous teen inventors are known as “late bloomers” who lost track of homework and hygiene when inspiration struck.

In Thomas Edison’s spare time, he helped a friend invent the typewriter. Bill Gates told his parents he would rather own a computer than a house.

Johnny Cohen’s sister Azza says he was “born with a stroke of genius.” Azza Cohen had to join the Green School Initiative Sciernce Club on Johnny’s behalf because, as a middle schooler, he was too young to join on his own.

Teenage inventors aren’t afraid to blur ethical lines to prove a point. Mark Zuckerberg, credited with inventing Facebook as a college student, hacked into government and corporate computer networks when he was a teen. He wanted to demonstrate that these systems’ vulnerabilities posed a risk to society.

To this day, Facebook conducts regular “hackathons” where participants bring a product from concept to commercialization in one evening. “The idea,” says Zuckerberg, “is that you can build something really good in a night.”

There is no doubt that today’s teen inventors would agree.