11 Interesting American Inventions That Changed the World

Some of these inventions are still shaping our daily lives.
Donovan Alexander

America has churned out an impressive host of inventions since its early days, and those inventions have shaped the world for the better, changing everything from space travel to your food choices for the day.

Even in this century alone, American inventors, scientists, thinkers, and researchers have created innovations that are sure to affect you in some way.

Thomas A. Edison once said, “Nearly every man who develops an idea works it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then he gets discouraged. That's not the place to become discouraged."

This idea to pursue a dream, an invention, even if the odds are impossible lays at the heart of the American spirit driving the entrepreneurial inventiveness that the U.S. has become known for across the globe. 


In honor of America’s 243rd birthday on July 4th on this year’s Independence Day, let's take a look at some of America’s most memorable contributions as well as some of the least obvious. 

The Lunar Module 

11 Interesting American Inventions That Changed the World
Source: NASA 

Let’s start with one of the more obvious American inventions, the Lunar Module. The moon landing of 1969 is one of the most important moments in human history here on earth and for the future of space travel. The Lunar Module is what ferried Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin onto the moon. 

Though it took 7000 engineers technicians, and mechanics to construct the Lunar Module, the New Yorker Thomas Kelley is credited to inventing the module. 

Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Fresh warm chocolate chip cookies just hit differently. The chocolate chip cookie is a classic and is well known and greatly appreciated all around the world. However, did you know the chocolate chip cookie was an American Invention? The mouthwatering dessert was created by Ruth Graves Wakefield in 1930. 

The cookie came into fruition when Graves needed a modified recipe after running out of the baker's chocolate she needed for her recipe, opting for semi-sweet chips for her soft doe.

The Transistor

11 Interesting American Inventions That Changed the World
Source: Lucent Technologies via Clinton White House Archives/Wikipedia

Created in 1947, the American Invention of the transistor has laid the framework for modern electronics. The first transistor was built in Bell Labs taking on the approximate size of the classic iPod. Without the invention of the transistor, every electronic would be impossible to create. You could argue that it is the father of all technology. 

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Traffic Lights 

You might not like them, but traffic lights are crucial components to the ecosystem of towns and cities.

This American invention was created in 1912, vastly improving pedestrian and driver safety in the United States and eventually around the world. 

Microwave Oven

Imagine where your late nightlife would be without the microwave oven. Ironically the microwave was not originally made for the kitchen.

The microwave was invented in 1945 by Percy Spencer, an engineer from Maine who was working on the magnetron for radar sets at Raytheon.

He discovered the device's “microwave” potential when it unintentionally microwaved the chocolate bar in his pocket. 


Imagine how much less awesome concerts would be without the use of lasers. Yet, aside from aesthetics, lasers have a host of applications in a range of industries.

The first laser was built by Theodore H. Maiman at Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, California in 1960. Today, lasers play an important role in areas like medicine, astronomy, and engineering.

The Personal Computer

11 Interesting American Inventions That Changed the World
Source: Katherine Greenhill/Wikipedia 

You are surely well aware of companies like IBM and Apple. Names like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates probably come to mind when thinking about the evolution of the personal computer over the decades.

Yet, you should definitely have John Blankenbaker on your radar. Blankenbaker is credited with inventing the first personal computer, building the Kenback-1 Digital Computer in his garage in California.


Though it might go a little underappreciated, the email laid the framework for a lot of messaging tools that we use today.

This American invention came into fruition in 1971, when U.S. Department of Defense programmer Ray Tomlinson invented a way to send text-based messages from person to person via electronic mail.

3D Printing

You cannot go a few days without hearing about the exciting and endless possibilities of additive manufacturing or as it is also known 3D printing.

3D printing was invented by Chuck Hull, founder of 3D Systems.

3D printing itself has the potential to change the way we eat, deal with medical injuries, create parts, colonize space, and even create weapons. 


Imagine where you would literally be without the use of a Global Positioning System or GPS. Literally.

Created by the U.S. Department of Defense in 1973 and made fully operational in 1993, GPS has become an essential tool for national defense strategy, scientific research, and homeland security. Even more so, it keeps you from getting lost. 

The Waffle Sole Running Shoe

11 Interesting American Inventions That Changed the World
Source: Nike News

In a means to create a cleatless shoe that had a good grip on a variety of surfaces, Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman stumbled upon the waffle sole running shoes.

By pouring a rubberized liquid into his wife's waffle maker Bowerman created the American Invention. These Nike shoes were a huge success, so much so that these shoes are still being sold today. 

Enjoy your July 4th barbeques!

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