Jewish Inventors

By Martin Gilliard

We can thank Jewish inventors for such inventions as the Barbie doll, the bendy or flexi-straw, the corvette, blue jeans and even the remote control.

Gertrude Belle Elion was an American biochemist and pharmacologist who used innovative research methods to develop a multitude of live saving / life improving drugs. In 1988 she was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

Inventor Invention
Gertrude Elion Anti-leukemia, gout, malaria, meningitis and herpes drugs
Ruth Handler Barbie Dolls
Levi Strauss Blue Jeans
Zora Arkus-Duntov Corvette (codesigner)
Joseph Friedman Flexi-straw
Emile Berliner Gramophone
Theodore Maiman Laser (co-inventor)
Samuel E. Blum LASIK eye surgery (co-inventor)
Carl Djerassi Oral Contraceptive (co-inventor), Antihistamines
Edwin Land Polaroid Camera
Robert Adler Remote Control
Sylvan Goldman Shopping Cart
Peter Carl Goldmark Vinyl Long Playing Record

The Barbie doll which was invented by Ruth Handler and was first presented to the public in 1959. It was one of the first dolls to have breasts – the idea being was that it would help young girls better imagine their future as adult women.

barbie doll

I would guess most people have heard of Levi Strauss – Levi began manufacturing his famous brand of jeans in 1873. He used copper rivets to strengthen the pockets of his denim work pants.

Zora Arkus-Duntov was an American engineer, born in Belgium who’s work on the Chevrolet Corvette led to him being nicknamed the “Father of the Corvette.”


Joseph Friedman invented the flexi-straw after seeing his daughter struggle to drink using a straight straw. He created the original corrugations by inserting a screw into a straight straw and then wrapping dental floss around the screw. His patent for the new flexi-straw was issued on September 18, 1937.


Emile Berliner was issued a patent for the “gramophone” in 1887.

Theodore Maiman created a laser from a synthetically grown ruby crystal, it was first operated on May 16, 1960.

Samuel E. Blom was awarded a patent for an ultraviolet excimer laser in December 1982. This laser was used in surgical and dental procedures and ultimately contributed to the development of LASIK eye surgery.

Carl Djerassi participated in the invention of the oral contraceptive in 1961

Edwin Land invented the Polaroid camera which enabled a picture to be taken and developed in sixty seconds or less. The first Polaroid instant cameras went on sale in 1948.

polaroid camera

Out of all the Jewish inventors my favorite is the following... How would we cope without the invention of the television remote control! Robert Adler didn’t actually invent the first remote control he did however implement the underlying technology that enabled TV remotes to be effective and therefore become common place in the household.

TV Remote Control

Sylvan Goldman invented the shopping cart back in 1937. The original carts were large wire baskets that were connected by metal arms. They had four wheels so that they could be pushed around the shop. Goldman’s shopping cart was awarded a patent on April 9, 1940.

Shopping Cart

Peter Carl Goldmark was instrumental in developing the LP which was first introduced in 1948.

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