From my Hungarian business partner. Authorship unknown. See my answer below her text.

Famous Hungarian [that we never knew about] Inventions

Daily objects that many of us take for granted were invented by Hungarians. That very necessary ingredient which causes the dough to rise? Yeast has Hungarian origins and so does the famous croissant, a puff pastry, which the French take so much pride in.

Do you have a blow-up toy for your children at home? They can thank Dr Luis Dorogi and Stephen Dorogi who developed many blow-up toys, such as dolls, balls, and swimming aids. If you shave daily, you are most likely using a Schick safety razor invented by Béla Schick. He also introduced the “Schick test” for determining the susceptibility to diphtheria. While reading, and ultimately grading this paper, you may be using a ballpoint pen developed by József László Bíró in 1938.

If you aren’t wearing your glasses, perhaps you may be wearing contacts. Joseph Dallos perfected the method of making molds from living eyes. This enabled the manufacture of lenses that conformed to the shape of the eye, and the first modern, molded contact lenses were made.

Driving to school today, you may also have unknowingly been using an automatic gearbox developed by him too. Bíró was a journalist, office clerk, sculptor and painter in Budapest and he bought a Bugatti car one day. He found the gear and clutch mechanism clumsy, so after a year of toil, he made and patented an “automatic gear box”. Bíró sold the patent because of a lack of capital. GM offered him a half a percent of each unit sold and a monthly USD 200 advance for five years. The license fee was eventually never paid and the American company for commercial reasons suppressed the patent by sinking it to the bottom of a filing cabinet.

Before cars, people rode horses. Horse stirrups, which made horseman so effective, were invented by the Huns at the time of the birth of Christ. They were introduced into Europe by mainly the Hungarians. They were generally made of iron or steel. Earlier famous horsemen like the Scythians had no stirrups. Similarly, the saddle was an innovation by the Hungarians, for it bridged the spine of the horse so that it was light and did not rub and chafe the back of the animal.

Other common daily objects are more along the lines of technology. The first electric motor was developed 18 years before Siemens in Györ, by John Jedlik. Apparently, he decided not to pursue uses of this electric motor, and the Germans ended up getting the credit for all the uses.

My Answer:

Very true and fascinating. Based, of course, on principles of Physics, Mathematics, and Medicine…..first discovered by Greeks…Hahahahahahaha!


The world famous “German Volkswagen” was primarily designed by a Hungarian, by the name of Béla Barényi. This information is according to the Mannheim national patent office. Again, the Volkswagen is considered a German vehicle, of German design, innovation and production.

Carburetors designed in 1892 by Donát Bánki and Janos Csonka may be used in these or other types of cars. Bánki had come upon this idea one evening when walking home from the Technical University and saw a flower girl sprinkling water on her flowers with a mouth blown spray. This sight led him to the idea of atomizing the fuel into small particles and mixed with air in the right proportion before feeding it into the combustion engine.

Edward Teller, who was born in 1908 in the capital city, Budapest, was physicist who was most famous for helping to develop the atomic bomb. Teller began his studies when he left the country in 1926, and went to Karlsruhe, Germany and studied chemical engineering. He then transferred to the University of Leipzig, where he continued his studies along the lines of his new interest, physics and the theory of quantum mechanics. Teller received his doctorate and published a paper on the structure of the hydrogen molecular ion—and this view of the molecule is still widely held today!

Teller’s contribution to the development of the H-bomb began with his friend Leo Szilárd, who enlisted Einstein to bring the danger of the H-bomb to then US president Franklin Roosevelt. FDR, in turn, appealed to the scientific community, which formed the Manhattan Project. Teller joined this top secret group in 1941. His crucial calculations helped to develop the H-bomb with the assurance of safety in the deadly race against the Germans.

Edward Teller’s friend, Leo Szilárd, realized the potential use of nuclear fission in the atomic bomb. Szilárd also was the person who proposed the Manhattan Project to Einstein, and FDR. After WWII, Szilárd became intent on reducing the US-USSR tensions. Since then he has devoted much of his life toward nuclear disarmament and preventing the harmful use of nuclear energy.

Another co-collaborator on the development of the atomic bomb on the Manhattan Project was John von Neumann [born János Lajos Margittai Neumann] in 1903. He was a childhood genius. When von Neumann was only six years old, he could divide eight digit numbers in his head. He learned calculus by age eight and then entered the Lutheran Gymnasium. In 1921, he entered the University of Budapest to study mathematics—but he did not attend lectures, because he was simultaneously enrolled at the University of Berlin to study chemistry. Despite not attending his lectures in Budapest, he still achieved outstanding results. Von Neumann received both his diploma in chemical engineering from the Technische Hochschule in Zürich and his doctorate in mathematics from the University of Budapest in 1926.

In 1931, von Neumann became a full fledged professor at Princeton, and along with Einstein was one of the original six mathematics professors who founded the Institute for Advanced Studies, IAS [which is still world famous today]. While consulting for a company, he devised a computer architecture which remains with us even today. A computer’s program and the data that it processes, don’t have to be fed into the computer, but can be stored in the computer instead. Time Magazine wrote, “”virtually all computers today, from $10 million supercomputers to the tiny chips that power cell phones and Furbies, have one thing in common: they are all ‘Von Neumann machines’…” He was also being constantly asked to advise many committees and groups. Von Neumann was a key policy maker in the fields of nuclear power, nuclear weapons, and intercontinental ballistic weaponry.

While von Neumann was a leading person in the world of nuclear power and weapons, Tódor von Kármán was an aviation genius. The first helicopter that was tethered to the ground and capable of maintaining hovering height was developed by Tódor von Kármán. He also designed the first rocket to reach interstellar space. Von Kármán was born in 1881 in Budapest and attended the Trefort Street Grammar school there. He won many mathematics competitions there and his father became worried that he would become a mathematical “freak”, so instead he pushed him towards engineering. In 1902 he received an engineering degree from the Royal Hungarian Technical University. In turn, he received his PhD. During WWI, at the Military Aircraft Factory at Fischamend in Austria, where he had the first helicopter tethered to the ground.

After WWI, von Kármán came back to Budapest and substantially reformed the university education. The most notable difference was a doubling in the number of mathematics courses required. Von Kármán, after a short stay in Aachen, Germany, finally came to the US, and to California. He built the first wind tunnel reaching supersonic speed in 1939. He also had a leading role in the development of the B-36, B-47, and B-52 bombers, as well as the Atlas, Titan, and Minutemen rockets. In 1942, he established the Aero-Jet Engineering Corporation, and in 1943 was commissioned to develop long range rockets. The first rocket, in 1944 reached a height of 17.5 km, the next in 1945 reached a height of 71 km and in 1949, a rocket reached the height of 393 km. This was the first rocket to reach interstellar space. Because of his pioneering role in aviation science, he is considered the “father of supersonic flight”. A stamp was issued in his honor by the US in 1992 and he is also memorialized by Crater Karman on the Moon and on Mars!

John Kemény may not be memorialized to the extent of Kármán, but his contributions are no less. He, along with Thomas Kurtz developed the Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code (BASIC) in 1964. BASIC is often considered the beginner’s bible in computing. In 1980, they developed True BASIC. Kemény had come to the US in 1939 and been called up to serve at 17. He was sent to be a mathematician on the Manhattan Project, and afterwards became a research assistant to Einstein. Later on, he became the president of Dartmouth, dying in 1992 of a heart attack.

Just as basic as computer languages are in our daily lives, so too, are matches. János Irinyi invented safety matches. He first studied law in Debrecen, and later acquired his chemical knowledge at the Vienna Polytechnikum. During one the lectures he attended, he solved the problem of silent matches: in 1836 he mixed phosphor with lead dioxide instead of calcium chlorate. Irinyi sold his invention to a manufacturer, and later founded the first factories for matches in Pest. He also played a part in the revolution of 1848-9. Irinyi assisted his brother in drawing up the 12 points, and Kossuth asked him to direct the manufacture of guns and gunpowder. After the unfortunate failed revolution, he was put into jail. After being released from jail, Irinyi continued his scientific work exclusively.

While not having to sit in jail like Irinyi, Semmelweis came to his own unfortunate end. Ignác Fülöp Semmelweis, a physician, was to many a “Mothers’ Savior”. He discovered the cause of puerperal fever, which was killing thousands of mothers. Semmelweis insisted that doctors disinfect their hands before childbirth. Austrian doctors were offended by his suggestions (and the fact that he was a Hungarian in Vienna during the anti-Hapsburg revolution) and sent him back to Budapest. Ironically, he too fell to puerperal fever due to an accidental infection.

Going down the list of inventions, many of them are quite important to us today. The inventor’s names may not be familiar, nor may we have realized that they are Hungarian, but that doesn’t make them any less important, or pivotal in history. What is the pity and shame, though, is that few of these inventors were recognized properly and lauded for their efforts. Many of them were key in the Manhattan Project which was a huge part of winning WWII. To us, these inventions and contributions are no longer important. We take many of them for granted and only tune in when something funny like a blow-up doll is shown to be invented by a Hungarian. Do we remember who invented the toy? No—we instead remember the toy itself. This, it seems is the fate of Hungarians in general; the world takes what they will, and then passes them by. But even if do the same thing, let us remember one small observation: for such a small country, they certainly turned out quite a few important people and inventions.