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Emile Berliner. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-110946).

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Berliner, Emile (20 May 1851–03 August 1929), inventor, was born Emil Berliner in the city of Hannover in the kingdom of Hannover (later a Prussian province), the son of Samuel Berliner, a merchant, and Sarah Fridman. His formal education ended in 1865 with four years at Samsonschule boarding school in Wolfenüttel, where he excelled in penmanship and drawing and evinced an early passion for classical music, a love that remained with him throughout his life. After graduation, his parents being hard pressed to provide for their large family, Berliner took employment in a print shop and then as clerk in a dry goods store. There, watching the handling of bolts of colored fabric, he took an interest in the weaving process and designed a weaving machine—the earliest evidence of his genius for invention....

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Goldmark, Peter Carl (02 December 1906–07 December 1977), inventor, was born in Budapest, Hungary, the son of Alexander Goldmark, a hatmaker, and Emmy (maiden name unknown). In 1919 Goldmark’s family fled to Vienna, Austria, to escape the Communist revolution in Hungary. Goldmark studied for a year at the Berlin Technische Hochschule in Charlottenburg, Germany, and then transferred to the Physical Institute of Vienna, where he received his B.Sc. in 1930 and his Ph.D. in physics in 1931....

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Hammerstein, Oscar (08 May 1848–01 August 1919), inventor, operatic impresario, and theatrical manager, was born in Berlin, Germany (although his family lived in Stettin, Prussia), the son of Abraham Hammerstein, a well-to-do, German-Jewish merchant, and Bertha Valentine, from a musically oriented French Huguenot family. Hammerstein was educated by private tutors, but at age sixteen, after a severe and unwarranted punishment from his father, he ran away from home. He fled to England and then boarded a ship bound for America, paying for his passage by selling his violin. Arriving at New York, Hammerstein found employment filling rush orders for the U.S. Army at a Pearl Street cigar factory. Within two years he had mastered the process well enough to invent a machine that greatly improved cigar production. Patented in July 1865, the invention revolutionized cigar making but brought only about $6,000 to the young inventor. However, subsequent similar labor-saving inventions reportedly brought him more than $1 million. In 1884 he invested his first royalties in the ...

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Johnson, Eldridge Reeves (06 February 1867–14 November 1945), inventor and business leader, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the son of Asa S. Johnson, a carpenter, and Caroline Reeves. Johnson spent the first three years of his life in Dover, Delaware. After the death of his mother in 1870, his father sent him to live on a relative’s farm in Collins Landing, Delaware. He returned to Dover at the age of ten, when his father married Frances Smith....