May Calendar

Celebrate the May Calendar of Famous Inventions and Birthdays

Nikola Tesla In His Laboratory
Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

May is National Inventors Month,  a month-long event celebrating invention and creativity. Discover which clever creations came into being or received patents or trademarks during the May calendar, and find out which famous inventor shares your May birthday.  

May Inventions and Birthdays

May 1

  • 1888 - Patent #382,280 was granted to Nikola Tesla for the "electrical transmission of power."

May 3

  • 1831 - Jim Manning patented a mowing machine. However, the very first patent for a machine for mowing lawns was granted to Edwin Beard Budding.

    May 4

    • 1943 - A patent for helicopter controls was obtained by Igor Sikorsky. Sikorsky invented fixed-winged and multi-engined aircraft, transoceanic flying boats and helicopters.

    May 5

    • 1809 - Mary Kies was the first women to receive a patent. It was for a process for "weaving straw with silk or thread."

    May 6

    May 7

    May 9

    • 1958 - Mattel's Barbie doll was registered. The Barbie doll was invented in 1959 by Ruth Handler (co-founder of Mattel), whose own daughter was called Barbara.

    May 10

    • 1752 - Benjamin Franklin first tested his lightning rod. Franklin invented the lightening rod, iron furnace stove, bifocal glasses and odometer.

    May 12

    May 14

      May 15

      • 1718 - James Puckle, a London lawyer, patented the world's first machine gun.

      May 17

      May 18

      • 1827 - Artist Rembrandt Peale registered a lithographic portrait of President George Washington based on his famous oil painting.
      • 1830 - Edwin Beard Budding of England signed a licensing agreement for the manufacture of his invention, the lawn mower.

        May 19

        • 1896 - Edward Acheson was issued a patent for an electrical furnace used to produce one of the hardest industrial substances: carborundum.

        May 20

        • 1830 - D. Hyde patented the fountain pen.
        • 1958 - Robert Baumann obtained a patent for a satellite structure.

        May 22

        • 1819 - The first bicycles, called swift walkers, were introduced to the United States in New York City.
        • 1906 - Orville and Wilbur Wright received a patent for a "Flying Machine" with a motor.

        May 23

        • 1930 - The Patent Act of 1930 permitted patenting of certain plants.

        May 24

        • 1982 - Increased penalties for trafficking in counterfeit labels for certain works and criminal infringement of these works were added to the Copyright Act in 1982.

        May 25

        • 1948 - Andrew Moyer was granted a patent for a method of mass production of penicillin.

        May 26

        • 1857 - Robert Mushet received a patent for methods of manufacturing steel.

        May 27

        • 1796 - James McLean was issued a patent for a piano.

        May 28

        • 1742 - The first indoor swimming pool opened in Goodman's Fields, London. 
        • 1996 - Theo and Wayne Hart received a patent for a ponytail hair clasp.

        May 30

        • 1790 - The first Federal Copyright bill was enacted in 1790.
        • 1821 - James Boyd patented the rubber fire hose.

        May Birthdays

        May 2

        • 1844 - Elijah McCoy, the highly prolific African-American inventor, was born.

        May 12

        • 1910 - Dorothy Hodgkin won the 1964 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her determinations by X-ray techniques of the structures of important biochemical substances.

        May 13

        • 1857 - English pathologist Ronald Ross won the Nobel Prize in 1902.

        May 14

        May 15

        • 1859 - French physicist Pierre Curie shared the Nobel Prize in 1903 with his wife, Marie Curie.
        • 1863 - English toy inventor Frank Hornby founded the legendary Meccano Toy Company.

        May 16

        • 1763 - French chemist Louis-Nicolas Vauquelin discovered chromium and beryllium.
        • 1831 - David Edward Hughes invented the carbon microphone and a teleprinter.
        • 1914 - American scientist Edward T. Hall pioneered the study of nonverbal communication and interactions between members of different ethnic groups.
        • 1950 - German superconductivity physicist Johannes Bednorz won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1987.

        May 17

        • 1940 - American computer scientist Alan Kay was one of the true luminaries of personal computing. 

        May 18

        • 1872 - English mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950.
        • 1901 - American biochemist Vincent du Vigneaud won he 1955 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in important sulphur compounds.
        • 1907 - Nuclear physicist Robley D. Evans helped to persuade the US government to allow the use of radioactive isotopes in medical research.
        • 1928 - Nuclear scientist G.R. Hall was renown for his work in nuclear technology.

        May 20

        • 1851 - Emile Berliner of Germany was the inventor of the gramaphone.

        May 22

        • 1828 - Albrecht Grafe was a pioneer eye surgeon who founded modern ophthalmology.
        • 1911 - Russian mathematician and biologist Anatol Rapoport invented game theory.
        • 1927 - American scientist George Andrew Olah was a chemist and Nobel laureate.

        May 29

        • 1826 - Fashion business executive Ebenezer Butterick invented the first graded sewing pattern.