The National Inventors Hall of Fame: Aspiring Inventors Abound in America, According to New Poll

Sep 11, 2001, 01:00 ET from National Inventors Hall of Fame

    AKRON, Ohio, Sept. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- This country is home to thousands
 upon thousands of aspiring Thomas Edisons, Henry Fords and Steve Wozniaks,
 judging from the results of a new national survey.
     A significant percentage of Americans -- 33 percent -- have aspired to be
 inventors or thought they had an idea that would make a good invention,
 according to the poll, sponsored by the National Inventors Hall of Fame
 (NIHF), based in Akron, Ohio.
     "This remarkable number, one-third of the U.S. population, reveals there
 definitely is a spirit of inventiveness in many of us," said David Fink, NIHF
 president and chief executive. "It reflects the enterprising and industrious
 attitude Americans are known for around the world."
     Interestingly, men (44 percent) are twice as more likely to have
 aspirations as inventors than women (22 percent).
     Another intriguing finding: Creativity and determination, not necessarily
 intelligence or education, are the most important qualities for an inventor,
 according to Americans.
     When asked to select the top three qualities most important to be a
 successful inventor, the majority of respondents named creativity (cited by 59
 percent) and determination (51 percent).
     Cited by less than half of the respondents were common sense (45 percent),
 intelligence (44 percent), education or training (39 percent), patience (35
 percent) and luck (18 percent).
     "These results reinforce our belief that people from all walks of life
 possess the imagination and skills to create or discover the next scientific,
 healthcare or lifestyle breakthrough," said Fink. "The 10 newest members of
 the National Inventors Hall of Fame, to be inducted September 15, represent
 such a cross-section, as do the other 158 Hall members."
     Unlike these enshrined notables, what prevented inventor "wannabes" from
 fulfilling their dream?
     Some 21 percent stated lack of funding, 14 percent said they did not know
 where to go or what to do next with their idea, 11 percent cited lack of time
 and another 11 percent reported they lost interest. "For those that need
 guidance, the U.S. Patent Office can assist them," Fink said.
     The survey also asked Americans to select from a list the top three
 professions that have the greatest positive impact on the quality of life in
 the United States. Educators and teachers ranked first, cited by 73 percent.
     Ranked second were scientists and inventors, named by 55 percent of those
 surveyed. Next were doctors (46 percent), public safety leaders, such as
 police and fire officials (36 percent) and government leaders (23 percent).
 Ranked at 15 percent or below were journalists, entertainers, athletes and
     The poll, timed to help kick off the NIHF 2001 induction ceremony, was
 conducted by an independent research firm.  It surveyed by telephone a
 national probability sample of 1,028 adults living in private households in
 the continental United States. Interviewing occurred August 24-27.
     The NIHF was founded in 1973 by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and the
 National Council of Intellectual Property Law Associations to recognize the
 role of inventors and invention in our daily lives. The current museum
 facility opened in 1995 and has hosted more than 700,000 visitors.
     Inventors inducted into the Hall can be nominated by anyone.  They must
 hold a U.S. patent and their invention must have contributed to the welfare of
 mankind and promoted the progress of science and the useful arts.
     On September 15, the NIHF will induct its 29th class of inventors. They
 include Robert L. Banks and John Paul Hogan (who invented crystalline
 polypropylene and the first low-pressure process for high density
 polyethylene-HDPE); Herbert Wayne Boyer and Stanley Norman Cohen (for genetic
 engineering); Oliver Evans (high-pressure steam engine); Thomas J. Fogarty
 (balloon embolectomy catheter); Elijah J. McCoy (automatic lubricator for
 machinery); Christopher Latham Sholes (the typewriter and QWERTY keyboard);
 and Patsy O'Connell Sherman and Samuel Smith (Scotchgard).
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SOURCE National Inventors Hall of Fame