<strong>Editor's Note: </strong>

<p> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"></p> <p>With the recession seemingly on the wane, it is time to tap into that spirit of innovation that has always succeeded in moving America forward, <a href="http://www.livescience.com/technology/090801-obama-innovation.html">President Obama said</a> Aug. 1.</p> <p>Pull up your bootstraps and invent stuff, in other words.</p> <p>Historically, Americans have had no trouble leading the way in scientific and technological advancement, especially in the 20th century, and it's that leadership that has pulled the country out of tough economic times. Foster the innate potential with policies and education and this recession can be a thing of the past too, according to Obama.</p> <p>Are Americans natural innovators? Take a look at our brief and admittedly incomplete list of ideas and inventions and decide for yourself.</p> <p><em>-- Heather Whipps</em></p> <p><em>This article is part of a series this week about the history and future of <a href="http://www.livescience.com/topic/innovation">innovation in science</a> and technology that makes life better and more productive.</em></p> <p><em></em></p>

<strong>The Light Bulb</strong>

<p style="text-align: center;"><em></em></p> <p></p> <p><a href="http://www.livescience.com/bestimg/?cat=genius">Thomas Edison</a> didn't conjure up the idea for a light bulb from thin air, but he did perfect its design, giving birth to the country's electric industry in the process. Edison's bulb lit up the world, one block at a time, beginning with his laboratory's street in New Jersey in 1879. It has taken well more than a century, and the intense demand for more energy efficient lighting, to begin to displace the incandescent bulb as the standard.</p> <p></p>

<strong>The Assembly Line</strong>

<p style="text-align: center;"></p> <p></p> <p>The consummate American innovator, Henry Ford, changed the way industry operates when his automotive assembly line rolled into use in 1908. While <a href="http://www.livescience.com/history/090225-obama-car-gaffe.html">America didn't invent the car</a>, with mass production made more efficient by Ford, many manufactured goods instantly became affordable to a wider swath of Americans.</p> <p></p>

<strong>Transistors</strong>

<p style="text-align: center;"></p> <p></p> <p>The electronic age would be nothing without the transistor, a semiconductor used in everything from televisions to computers. Three-terminaled transistors were developed by a three-man American team, who built upon each other's ideas and each won the Nobel Prize in 1956 for their <a href="http://www.livescience.com/php/trivia/?quiz=inventions">groundbreaking work</a>.</p> <p></p>

<strong>Communications Satellites</strong>

<p style="text-align: center;"></p> <p></p> <p>The world's first communications satellite was developed by the U.S. Army and launched into space in 1958, beaming a message back to Earth from President Eisenhower: "Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite traveling in outer space." Though the Apollo missions were flashier, scientifically, it was the development of the <a href="http://www.livescience.com/php/video/player.php?video_id=02_nxtp_publicsat">communications orbiters</a> that would become the real money-makers.</p> <p></p>

<strong>Magnetic Resonance Imaging</strong>

<p style="text-align: center;"></p> <p></p> <p>Countless lives have been saved thanks to the advent of the MRI, a painless, non-invasive way of seeing straight into <a href="http://www.livescience.com/php/trivia/?quiz=bodyquiz1">the human body</a> with amazing detail. It was Raymond Damadian, an American scientist familiar with the principles of nuclear magnetic imaging, who first proposed that the technology could be used to safely scan for disease. The first MRI machine went into use in 1977.</p> <p></p>

<strong>The Internet</strong>

<p style="text-align: center;"></p> <p></p> <p>Many people (except Al Gore) could take partial credit for the invention of <a href="http://www.livescience.com/php/video/player.php?video_id=ethernetcable">the Internet</a>, but the technology indisputably had its first unceremonious moments in the late 1960s in the bowels of America's institutes for higher learning. Developed for military research, the "ARPAnet" connected four computers at UCLA, Stanford, UC Santa Barbara and the University of Utah. Scientists typing there sent the first email, too, in 1971.</p> <p></p>

<strong>Laser Technology</strong>

<p style="text-align: center;"></p> <p></p> <p>With so many applications and a commercial value in the many billions of dollars, the laser ranks as one of America's most practical inventions of the 20th century. Though <a href="http://www.livescience.com/culture/081205-science-genius-einstein.html">Albert Einstein</a> described the first described the properties of a laser in 1917, it wasn't until 1960 that scientists at the Hughes Research Laboratories in California first demonstrated the phenomenon. Today, we use lasers anytime we put on a CD or DVD, perform eye surgery, scan a barcode, put on a rock concert and, of course, shine one of those annoying red lights in someone's eye.</p> <p></p>

<strong>Putting a Man on the Moon</strong>

<p style="text-align: center;"></p> <p></p> <p>The USSR may have been the first to reach space, but it was NASA's Apollo program - conceived in 1960 during the Eisenhower administration - that truly captured the world's imagination, putting a <a href="http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/apollo-11-then-now-next.html">man on the moon</a> in 1969. The speed at which scientists went from concept to realization of the space program, helped in no small part by competition with their Communist rivals, was nothing short of miraculous compared to the lumbering pace of many innovations today.</p> <p></p>

<strong>The Atomic Bomb</strong>

<p style="text-align: center;"></p> <p></p> <p>Perhaps not as whimsical as landing on the moon, few would deny the <a href="http://www.livescience.com/history/090517-Greatest-Exposions.html">explosive impact</a> of the invention of the atomic bomb, first tested in New Mexico in 1945. Besides its effect on the way the world wages war, the Manhattan Project was also a reflection of America's melting pot, employing a number of newly immigrated scientists, including some who had escaped persecution under Germany's Third Reich.</p> <p></p>

<strong>Flight</strong>

<p style="text-align: center;"></p> <p></p> <p>Is there anything more American than a pair of otherwise unassuming brothers from Ohio revolutionizing the way the world is connected? When <a href="http://www.livescience.com/history/080811-hs-wright-brothers.html">Orville and Wilbur Wright succeeded</a> in their first manned, powered, heavier-than-air and (to some degree) controlled-flight aircraft in 1903, soaring for 12 seconds over the ruddy fields of North Carolina, science entered the aerial age and has never looked back.</p> <p></p>

Slide 12

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Top 10 American Innovations