For such a small country, Slovakia boasts a number of great inventors who played an important role in making our world a better place to live in. Here is a look at five Slovak inventors and some of the inventions that made them famous.
Jozef Murgas – inventor of the radio
Of course, history records Marconi as the inventor of the radio. However, the truth is that while Marconi was able to finance the necessary patents, the actual person behind the invention was a priest, born in Tajov, in Slovakia, called Jozef Murgas.
Murgas emigrated from Slovakia to Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, where he soon devised a system that greatly improved Morse code. His “Rotary-spark-system” allowed for faster communication, through the use of musical tones.
The new invention was patented as the “Wireless Telegraphy Apparatus”. He also patented 16 more inventions in this field, which would go on to lay the foundations for the invention of the radio.
Unfortunately, a lack of money as well as a number of financial setbacks, eventually led Murgas to give the younger, more prosperous Marconi, the rights to all of his patents.
Stefan Banic – inventor of the parachute
Born in Nestic, in Slovakia, Banic emigrated to America when he was 37 and found work as a coal miner in Pennsylvania. There he witnessed a tragic accident in 1912, which led Banic to build a prototype of a parachute and register it with the U.S. Patent Office.
On the 3rd June 1914, Banic demonstrated how his parachute worked, by jumping from a building in Washington. He then kindly gave away his patent rights to the U.S. Army and although his invention proved extremely important during WWI, he received little fame or fortune.
Wolfgang von Kempelen – inventor of the typewriter for the blind
Born in Bratislava, Kempelen worked in the service of Maria Theresia, the then ruler of the Habsburg Empire. A recognised genius, Kemplen’s many achievements include the invention of a speaking machine, in 1791, and a special typewriter for the blind.
However, the most famous invention he is credited with, an automated chess player known as The Turk, later proved to be a hoax.
Jozef Maximilian Petzval – inventor of the opera glass
Petzval is considered by many people to be the founder of modern photography. An excellent mathematician, he was given the chair of Mathematics at the University of Vienna, in 1837.
He is mostly renowned for his work on optical lenses in the 1840’s, which proved instrumental in the construction of the modern camera. Petzval is also remembered for greatly improving the telescope, as well as inventing the opera glass.
Jan Bahyl – inventor of the petrol motor-driven helicopter
Born in Zvolenska Slatina in 1845, Bahyl is perhaps the greatest of all Slovak inventors. During a career in the army, Bahyl was able to work on a number of inventions, many of which involved hydraulics. Bahyl’s first notable invention, which he financed with his own money, was the Steam Tank. The Russian army bought the invention, which enabled Bahyl to dedicate his life to inventing.
Among his many inventions were the tank pump, an air balloon combined with an air turbine, the first petrol engine car in Slovakia and a lift up to Bratislava castle. However, he is probably best remembered for the construction of a petrol motor-driven helicopter, which he flew himself, in 1905.