National Inventors Hall of Fame


The National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) is an American not-for-profit organization, founded in 1973, which recognizes individual engineers and inventors who hold a U.S. patent of significant technology. Besides the Hall of Fame, it also operates a museum in Alexandria, Virginia, sponsors educational programs, and a collegiate competition.[1]

National Inventors Hall of Fame
Legal statusOrganization
Purpose"Honor[ing] the women and men responsible for the great technological advances that make human, social and economic progress possible."
Headquarters3701 Highland Park N.W.
North Canton, Ohio 44720
Region served
United States
603 inventors
Official language
AffiliationsInvent Now America

As of 2020, 603 inventors have been inducted, mostly constituting historic persons from the past three centuries, but including about 100 living inductees.[2] Nominees must hold a U.S. patent of significant contribution to the U.S. welfare, and which advances science and useful arts.[3] The 2020 class included 22 inventors.



The National Inventors Hall of Fame was founded in 1973 on the initiative of H. Hume Mathews, then the chairman of the National Council of Patent Law Associations (now the National Council of Intellectual Property Law Associations).[4] It was launched by Ed Sobey, who was also the first director.[5][6] In 1974, it gained a major sponsor in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from Washington, D.C.[7]

At first, the Hall was housed in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, D.C., near the Washington National Airport but it soon needed more room at a more prominent location. A committee was formed in 1986 to find a new home for it. For a time, the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was the frontrunner. But in 1987, a patent attorney from Akron, Edwin "Ned" Oldham, the representative from the National Council of Patent Law Associations, led the drive to move the Hall to Akron. According to Maurice H. Klitzman, one of the founding members of the Board of Directors, because of the guaranteed financial support by the city of Akron that greatly exceeded any other community's proposal, the Board selected Akron as the new home. The construction of the new building was finished in 1995 and the Hall opened to the public with the name of the Inventure Place.[8]

From the beginning, the Inventure Place was intended to be more than a science and technology museum and library. It was designed to double as an inventor's workshop and a national resource center for creativity. Designed by an architect from New York City, James Stewart Polshek, it was a stainless-steel building, shaped like a curving row of white sails, with five tiers of exhibits. One of the exhibits allowed the visitors to use computer programs for making animations and mechanisms for running laser-light shows.[9]

But attendance did not meet the expectations and the museum never made a profit, although its related ventures and programs, such as Invent Now and Camp Invention, proved to be more successful. In 2002, its name was changed to the National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum. Six years later the Hall moved to Alexandria. Its former facility was converted to a specialty school for students in grades between 5th and 8th. It is now the National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM Middle School, a middle school for the Akron Public Schools.[10][11][12][13]


U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Madison Building in Alexandria, home to the National Inventors Hall of Fame museum

In Alexandria, the National Inventors Hall of Fame operates a museum in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office building at 600 Dulany Street, with a gallery of digital portraits of the honorees, interactive kiosks and a theater.[14] Admission is free.

In addition to the exhibits of the artifacts and documents from the collections of the Patent and Trademark Office, it also sponsors Camp Invention, Club Invention, and the Collegiate Inventors Competition.

Camp Invention, founded in 1990, is a daytime summer camp for children, with program sites in 49 states.[15] Camp Invention is the only nationally recognized summer program focused on creativity, innovation, real-world problem solving and the spirit of the invention.

The Collegiate Inventors Competition was created in 1990 to encourage college and university students to be creative and innovative with science, engineering, and technology for dealing with the problems of the world. Since then, with the help from the sponsors, it has awarded more than $1 million to the winning students in two categories, undergraduate and graduate. In 2012, the first places were won with a delivery therapy for treating cancer and a way to facilitate suturing in abdominal surgery. Other finalists included the use of CT scanning and 3-D printing technology to replicate an amputee's lost hand, a low-profile shoulder brace that can be applied by the athletes themselves, and an electric motorcycle that runs on spheres instead of wheels.[16]



See also



  • Akron Life and Leisure magazine, Baker Publishing, J. McGarrity, June 2003
  1. ^ “National Inventors Hall of Fame”, Ohio History Central. Retrieved February 17, 2013.
  2. ^ "National Inventors Hall of Fame".
  3. ^ National Inventors Hall of Fame. "Nominate". Retrieved March 9, 2017.
  4. ^ “Origin and Presidents of the National Inventors Hall of Fame”, The National Inventors Hall of Fame,, archived February 4, 2002. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
  5. ^ "President Ed Sobey Northwest Invention Center". Semester at Sea. Archived from the original on February 12, 2021. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  6. ^ Mayfield, John E. (2013). The Engine of Complexity: Evolution as Computation. New York City: Columbia University Press. p. 249. ISBN 978-0231535281.
  7. ^ “National Inventors Hall of Fame”, The Inventors' Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1 (November 9, 1974), p. 2, col. 1. (PDF)
  8. ^ Gamerman, Amy (August 1995). "A cooperstown for gadgeteers and tinkerers", The Wall Street Journal. p. A9, Subscription required.
  9. ^ “Inventors Hall of Fame opens in Akron, Ohio”, The New York Times, July 30, 1995, section 5, p. 3.
  10. ^ Biliczky, Carol (May 17, 2008) Officials OK plans for ailing museum: National Inventors Hall of Fame will remain in operation, but will be resource for new school, undergo other changes Akron Beacon Journal, accessed April 17, 2020, Subscription required.
  11. ^ Biliczky, Carol (June 17, 2008). Akron reinventing hall of fame's role Akron Beacon Journal, Subscription required.
  12. ^ “Inventors Hall of Fame No Perpetual Motion Machine”, June 22, 2008, RoadsideAmerica: Trunkations.
  13. ^ “National Inventors Hall of Fame® School ... Center for STEM Learning” Archived November 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Akron Public Schools.
  14. ^ "Our Museum is a National Monument to Innovation". National Inventors Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  15. ^ Ali, Aman (June 15, 2006). Camp demands creativity: Youngsters enjoy hands-on learning in one of many National Inventors Hall of Fame programs Akron Beacon Journal Accessed April 17, 2020, Subscription required.
  16. ^ "Collegiate Inventors Honored for Innovative Science and Technology Advances" (Press release). National Inventors Hall of Fame. November 13, 2012. Retrieved April 17, 2020 – via PR Newswire.
  • Official website

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