Some Things Invented by Latter-day Saints (Mormons)

  • television - Philo Farnsworth
  • electric traffic light - Lester Wire
  • odometer - William Clayton
  • headphones - Nathaniel Baldwin
  • hearing aid - Harvey Fletcher
  • audiometer - Harvey Fletcher
  • stereo sound - Harvey Fletcher
  • video games - Nolan Bushnell
  • transistor radio - Marvin Harris
  • modern word processor - Alan Ashton (WordPerfect) [Read the history online]
  • CD/DVD technology - Robert B. Ingebretsen (plus other physicists, engineers and computer scientists at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah)
  • electric guitar - Alvino Rey
  • department store - ZCMI, world's first dept. store, started by Brigham Young
  • fry sauce - Don Carlos Edwards
  • scrapbooking - [Source: CNN]
  • Zip drive - Iomega
  • repeating rifle ("Browning rifle") - Jonathan Browning
  • automatic shotgun (and many more firearms) - John Moses Browning
  • NetWare (Network Operating System) - Drew Major
  • condominums - Keith Romney
  • women's buttonless one-piece bathing suit - Rose Marie Reid (patent #2,535,018)
  • photopermeable swimsuit - Rose Marie Reid (for full-body tanning)
  • flatbed scanner
  • DOOM, Quake, Civilization, Age of Empires, etc. - Sandy Petersen
  • artificial heart - Robert K. Jarvik (inventor/doctor) & Barney Clark (first recipient)
  • heart bypass machine used in open heart surgery - Homer R. Warner
  • numerous patents for beam-surface processes (in free-electron lasers) - Norman Tolk
  • Slurry (aqueous) explosives - Melvin Cook (Nobel Prize winner)
  • tetrahedron press - William Hall
  • synthetic diamonds - William Hall
  • Sorenson video codec - James L. Sorenson
  • various bionic body parts - "Utahns blaze path in bionic body parts" (23 November 2003, Deseret News)

Some Things Discovered by Latter-day Saints (Mormons)

  • Absolute Rate Theory of chemical reactions - Henry Eyring
  • mechanism of ATP synthesis - Paul Boyer
  • soil physics - Wilford Gardner

Kentucky Fried Chicken

Many of America's most successful companies and brand names were started by Latter-day Saints. This page doesn't list this kind of information, but it's as good a place as any to clear up one occasionally confusing topic.

Visitors to Salt Lake City are aware the world's first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant is there. Was Kentucky Fried Chicken started by Mormons (i.e., members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)? Well, yes and no.

The famous chicken recipe itself, with its secret blend of eleven herbs and spices, really was created by "Colonel" Harland D. Sanders. Colonel Sanders was not just a corporate symbol or the creation of an advertising man. He was the actual creator of the world's most famous fast-food chicken recipe.

Colonel Sanders was not from Utah, and he was not a Mormon. He wasn't even from Kentucky, in fact. He was born in Henryville, Indiana on September 9, 1890.

In 1939 Colonel Sanders perfected his chicken recipe in his restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky. (So, if you're keeping score, Kentucky Fried Chicken -- the recipe -- really was created in Kentucky.)

Colonel Sanders realized he had a potentially popular product on his hands and took it on the road. In 1952 Pete Harman, a Latter-day Saint and a native of Utah, made a deal with Colonel Sanders to create a restaurant franchise based around the Sanders' recipe. Harman and Colonel Sanders developed the franchise concept. Harman became the first franchisee (opening the aforementioned world's first KFC in SLC, which has also borne the sign "Harman's Cafe").

(Eventually Kentucky Fried Chicken changed its name to simply "KFC," which, officially, doesn't stand for anything now. KFC says this is to reflect a more health-conscious image and emphasize the diversity of their menu. There are those that say the state of Kentucky asked for an exorbitant licensing fee for use of the word "Kentucky," and that this is the real reason why Kentucky Fried Chicken became "KFC." But according to Barbara Mikkelson, this notion is simply an urban legend that started out as a joke. (Source: Barbara Mikkelson, "False Authority" page on the "Urban Legends Reference Pages" website, last updated 28 February 2001; URL:

Harman's single restaurant eventually grew to 245 locations owned by his own company, and the KFC restaurant franchise became one of the world's most recognizable brands. There are nearly 11,000 KFC locations in the world, with annual sales of 8.9 billion (year 2000).

Harman was not only a successful businessman; he was also a community leader and generous philanthropist. The Harman Building on the BYU campus bears his name, as he was its principle benefactor.

Additional Notes

Willem Kolff, who invented the artificial kidney and pioneered dialysis, was Dutch, but relocated to Utah. He helped develop the University of Utah's prestigous bioengineering center. He was not a Latter-day Saint.

Some of this information comes from:

Also: This page was mentioned in the weekly roundup of Internet news by Mormon News, 23 May 2001.


U.S. Census Bureau Daily Feature For May 13

U.S. Newswire

12 May 12:00
U.S. Census Bureau Daily Feature For May 13

To: National and Features desks

Contact: Rick Reed or Tom Edwards, 301-457-2812,

both of the U.S. Census Bureau

WASHINGTON, May 12 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Following is the daily

"Profile America" feature for May 13 from the U.S. Census



Profile America for Monday, May 13. It seems like a simple
device, really that row of numbers on your car's speedometer that
measures how far your car has traveled since it was new, or how
many miles you've covered on your trip. Called an odometer, it was
invented, this week in 1847, by a Mormon pioneer named William
Clayton, who was crossing the plains in a covered wagon. Up until
his invention, elapsed miles were calculated by tediously counting
the revolutions of a rag tied to a wagon wheel spoke. Today, most
of us regularly travel a lot of miles. The average car in the
United States covers nearly 12 thousand miles a year, about the
same as for vans, pickups and SUVs. Trucks travel about 26 thousand
miles annually and buses nearly 11 thousand miles. Profile America
is a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau, celebrating a
century of providing the facts America needs.


/U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

05/12 12:00

Copyright 2002, U.S. Newswire

BYU, U. in patent top 10
Y. heads the list in inventions reported, and Utah is 8th

By: Jeffrey P. Haney
Date: 24 July 2002
Source: Deseret News

PROVO -- Brigham Young University and the University of Utah both rank among the top 10 colleges nationwide at turning ideas into cash.

An analysis of patent and licensing efforts indicates the two rivals on the football field also jostle for attention from investors seeking to make quick bucks on newfangled gadgets.

The study, published Friday in The Chronicle of Higher Education, is based on data voluntarily submitted each year to the Association of University Technology Managers.

Reports from 1996 to 2000 were scrutinized by researchers to determine if the country's public and private universities handle intellectual property of professors with care.

The study ranks schools for their ability to successfully take research into the marketplace. It also shows which colleges are seeing huge returns on small investments in research and pinpoints a number of colleges with big research budgets but small invention-royalty returns.

"This work can be very rewarding for the inventor," says Jayne F. Carney, director of the U.'s technology transfer office.

"Most people are at the university to push back the boundaries of knowledge," she said. "It becomes more exciting when that knowledge can help the public, too."

Only complete data from 118 schools was evaluated.

In the study, BYU ranks No. 1 in the number of inventions reported per $1 million spent in research.

BYU boasts the highest number of start-up companies per $10 million spent on research and ranks third best in the amount of money earned from licenses in comparison to money spent.

Lynn Astle, director of BYU's technology transfer office, says the school shone on the Chronicle's scorecard largely because BYU patents have yielded solid returns in comparison with the school's $15 million to $20 million yearly research budget.

From 1996 to 2000, BYU saw a return of 23 cents for every dollar spent on research, according to the Chronicle's study.

"BYU's prime object is to teach students," Astle said. "And we do research to teach them."

Astle said the LDS Church-owned school has three "moneymakers" that bring in nearly half of the $3 million to $5 million in royalties earned yearly by the school.

Two of the main inventions -- one is a new kind of hearing aid and the other is a computer program that models groundwater systems -- were made available through spin-off companies.

The most lucrative license, he said, is a leukemia-treating drug licensed to a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.

"We have really good, entrepreneurial faculty," said Astle. "We couldn't do anything if we didn't have good ideas to sell."

The U., which earns an average of $44,720 per license on university patents, ranked No. 8 in the number of inventions disclosed per $1 million spending on research.

The state's flagship school, which also has the only higher-education medical center, excels at helping inventions reach the public while also stimulating economic growth.

Biopharmaceutical company Myriad Genetics and Evans & Sutherland Computer Corp. are two examples of start-up companies based on U. research.

In a four-year period, U. research spurred the opening of 35 spin-off firms. That places the U. as the sixth most-effective institution for putting university research in the hands of investors who then start new companies to make the product.

The U., which started an office to oversee patent development 35 years ago, also is the fifth most effective college in helping create start-up companies per $10 million spent on research, according to the analysis. "It's reflective of the culture in Utah," says Carney, whose office files disclosures for nearly 200 inventions each year. "It's a very entrepreneurial state."

Inventor, Scientist Ingebretsen Dies of Heart Failure at 54

By: Brandon Griggs
Date: 7 March 2003
Source: Salt Lake Tribune

As a precocious teenager in the 1960s, Robert B. Ingebretsen built robots and primitive computers that could talk.

As a University of Utah graduate student, Ingebretsen restored scratchy old recordings by opera great Enrico Caruso by transferring musical sounds into computer codes and back again.

But it was his pioneering work in digital sound for which Ingebretsen, who was 54 when he died of heart failure Sunday at his Salt Lake City home, received an Academy Award in 1999. Ingebretsen and his mentor, former University of Utah professor Thomas Stockham, invented technology that translated analog sound into a digital format -- a discovery that eventually led to the development of compact discs.

"He was a genius in every sense of the word," said younger brother Richard Ingebretsen. "When I was a kid we were always going to award ceremonies for my brother."

A graduate computer science student at the U. in the early 1970s, Ingebretsen studied under Stockham, an expert in sound enhancement hired in 1973 to scrutinize President Nixon's secret White House tapes. He, Stockham and their fellow scholars -- including Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar, maker of the "Toy Story" films -- led a 1970s Utah renaissance in computer science.

After graduation in 1975, Ingebretsen joined Stockham at Soundstream Inc., a Utah company where Ingebretsen wrote the software for the first practical digital audio editing system. Soundstream later branched into film and briefly operated an editing studio at a Paramount Pictures studio lot in Los Angeles, directly upstairs from the "Mork and Mindy" set.

Ingebretsen commuted from Utah to Los Angeles, where he supervised the new digital recording for the 1982 re-release of Disney's "Fantasia." He and Stockham also made what is believed to be the first digital film, a 20-second portrait of a human hand.

But Soundstream lost out to consumer electronics giants Sony and Philips in the race to produce CDs and players. Ingebretsen, Stockham and hardware engineer Bruce Rothaar never patented the digital audio editing technology they created, costing them untold millions.

Ingebretsen "had the patent papers on his desk but never filed them," his brother said.

Ingebretsen spent the next 15 years in near anonymity in Salt Lake City, founding a series of small high-tech companies. Then in 1998, he received a letter from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences informing him that he and Stockham had won Scientific and Engineering awards for their work. The next year Ingebretsen, in a rented tux, accepted the gold-plated award -- a cousin of the better-known Oscar statuette -- during a ceremony at a Beverly Hills, Calif., hotel.

Ingebretsen also helped pioneer satellite communications technology. In recent years, he worked for a Centerville-based startup that develops software for hand-held computers. But the mild-mannered father of five will always be best known for his achievements almost 30 years ago.

Services will be today at 2 p.m. at the LDS Ensign Fourth Ward, Ninth Avenue and K Street in Salt Lake City.


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Webpage created circa March 2001. Last modified 24 August 2005.
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