20 Romanian inventors and their great inventions

We present you a list of 20 great Romanian inventors and their most important inventions and achievements. Many of the Romanian inventions from this list are still used in everyday life.

You probably have heard of some of the Romanian inventors from this list, while others are less famous.

With this list of Romanian inventors, we hope that you will gain some useful knowledge while also answering some important questions like: what did Romania invent? who invented the pen? who invented the first airplane? who invented the jet plane? who invented the cure for cholera? who invented insulin?

20 Great Romanian Inventors and their inventions:

1. Aurel Persu

Aurel Persu on a Romanian stamp
Aurel Persu on a Romanian stamp

We have to thank Aurel Persu for the modern aerodynamic shape of today’s cars. He had the idea of ​​integrating the car’s wheels inside the body to limit their exposure to air resistance.

Aurel Persu built the first aerodynamic car in the world and we have the privilege to admire it today at the “Dimitrie Leonida” National Technical Museum in Bucharest, Romania. The patent for his invention was registered on November 14, 1922, and validated with no. 402683 of September 19, 1923, in Germany and then on November 8, 1927, in the USA.

Studying nature and experimenting with mechanics, he concluded that the perfect shape for a vehicle would be that of a drop of water. He thus built, with his own finances, the dream car in the period 1922-1924.

It reached aerodynamic coefficients of 0.22, a score envied by contemporary car designers.

The car was assembled and ran at a top speed of 80 km/h. The body had an aluminum sheet to have a lower weight and lower consumption (5 l / 100km). The car had a narrow rear axle gauge just to get its special shape. Persu brought the car to Romania, covering a total of 120,000 km with it. In 1969, Persu donated his invention to the “Dimitrie Leonida” Technical Museum. Although it is no longer in operation, Persu’s car can still be admired in the museum.

Major car manufacturers like Ford and General Motors quickly became interested in Persu’s innovative design, but negotiations for his patent have not been completed.

Persu died on May 5, 1977, and information about the existence of this inventor and his achievements were unfortunately overshadowed by the Communist regime of the time.

2. Theodor Ionescu – 3D movies

3D cinema, Romanian invention

3D movies are now shown in most cinemas and have become a revolution in recent years.

 The creation of 3D movies is not a recent invention, it has a deep history, a long way back.

It has its roots in Theodor Ionescu’s patent for 3D imaging in film and television in 1936.

While 3D images were invented earlier by Sir Charles Wheatstone, it was Theodor Ionescu who adapted them for movies and television.

3. Nicolae Paulescu – the discovery of insulin

Nicolae Paulescu, Romanian scientist
Nicolae Paulescu, Romanian scientist

Since the end of the 19th century, more and more scientists around the world have been researching a cure for diabetes.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, medical efforts intensified and, one by one, more or less satisfactory results began to appear.

 One of the scholars who devoted almost three decades to his study in this field was the Romanian Nicolae Paulescu (1869-1931). On April 19, 1922, he obtained the patent for his discovery “Pancreina and its manufacturing process” from the Romanian Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

The patent was for the anti-diabetic hormone released by the pancreas, later called insulin, as well as the rights to make the drug.

In 1916, Nicolae Paulescu isolated the substance he called Pancreina (now considered to be insulin), then injected its extract into diabetic dogs and noticed that their high levels of sugar had quickly dropped and returned to normal.

In the summer of 1922, a Canadian orthopedist, assisted by a medical student, published the discovery of an active substance in the regulation of blood glucose, which they named insulin.

 Fred Grant Banting and Charles Herbert Best, from Toronto (Canada), presented practically the same substance that Nicolae Paulescu had patented in Romania more than a year earlier.

Nicolae Paulescu died of cancer in 1931 and never reconciled with the unjust loss of the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

4. Petrache Poenaru – the first fountain pen

Petrache Poenaru
Petrache Poenaru

Born in 1799, Poenaru was an engineer and mathematician who made an important contribution to the organization of the Romanian education system, but he is better known worldwide for his most important invention, which is still used today by millions of people, the first fountain pen.

The official name of the device was “plume portable sans fin, qui s’alimente elle-même avec de l’encre”, which in Romanian would be translated as “endless portable pen fed with ink ”.

His invention received an official patent from the French Government.

5. Traian Vuia – first self-propelling heavier-than-air aircraft

Traian Vuia and his airplane
Traian Vuia and his airplane

Born in 1872, the modern-day, Banat region in Romania, Traian Vuia, is a symbol of world aviation, after making the first self-propelled flight in Paris on March 18, 1906, with an aircraft heavier than the air.

 With revolutionary plans and ideas, Traian Vuia was constantly faced with a lack of funds to help him bring his visionary projects to life. That’s how he got to Paris, where his dream came true.

On March 18, 1906, at Montesson, near Paris, Traian Vuia became the first person to fly with a heavier-than-air aircraft, equipped with its own take-off, propulsion, and landing systems.

Vuia’s first flight was not very impressive, its airplane only flew for a distance of 12 meters long and 1 meter above the ground. Let’s not forget that it was the first time an airplane manage to take off without the use of a catapult or any other external means.

Although it seems a modest achievement today, Vuia’s flight had a very strong impact. After just one year, more and more modern airplanes have appeared with even higher performance than Vuia’s first plane.

Vuia’s achievement also served as an inspiration for many other inventors and aviation pioneers of the time.

Over time, Traian Vuia would patent several inventions, including a steam generator still used in thermal power plants or two helicopter models.

6. Henri Coanda – first jet aircraft

Coandă 1910 by Henri Coandă
Coandă 1910 by Henri Coandă

Henri Coanda is known mainly for the jet plane invented in 1910 and which, in the same year, was presented at the International Aeronautics Exhibition in Paris. Red, without a propeller, with a plaque that read “Coanda-1910,” with two double wings and a single-seat, the plane aroused the interest of all visitors, especially since it was different from what they called “airplane” until then. During the exhibition, the first flight took place with an airplane equipped with a jet engine due to the accidental demonstration of Henri Coanda. While he was checking the plane’s engine, it took flight and was forced to land because Henri lost control.

Coandă will continue to design and build more aircraft models and technologies in the coming years and during the 1930s he discovered what we know today as the “Coanda effect” – the diversion of fluid jets near curved surfaces.

Settled abroad for several decades, Henri Coandă returned to Romania in 1969. He died three years later, in November 1972, at the age of 86.

7. Anastase Dragomir – first ejection seat

Anastase Dragomir on a Romanian stamp
Anastase Dragomir on a Romanian stamp

Anastase Dragomir, born in 1896, was a Romanian inventor, he is known for one of the most important inventions in the field of aviation.

After graduating from school, he went to Paris where he worked at several aircraft factories.

During this time he designed the first system for rescuing pilots and passengers from an airplane in the event of an accident.

The invention consists of a so-called parachute cell, a vertical detachable and ejectable seat (fitted with two parachutes) of an aircraft or any type of vehicle, designed to be used only in emergencies, and which represents an early version, but sophisticated enough of the current ejectable seats.

The ejection seat created by Anastasie Dragomir and Tanase Dobrescu was first tested successfully on August 25, 1929, at the Paris-Orly airport and a year later at the Baneasa Airport, near Bucharest.

The ejection seat was made of a detachable seat with two parachutes, which could be catapulted vertically from an aircraft or any other dip of the vehicle in case of emergency.

8. Ana Aslan – first anti-aging cream

Ana Aslan romanian scientist
Ana Aslan

Ana Aslan (January 1, 1897 – May 20, 1988) is famous for the anti-aging creams currently known under the name Gerovital (vitamin H3). She has been a gerontologist and academician (since 1974).

Her work involved researching the importance of procaine in ameliorating age-related dystrophic disorders. She applied the results widely in the geriatric clinic, under the name Gerovital.

Ana Aslan invented Gerovital in 1952, a miracle product designed to slow the aging process. The invention has become famous all over the world.

Also in 1952, Ana Aslan had set up an institute dedicated to the problems of the elderly. It was the first institution in the world dedicated to geriatric research.

In 1952, Ana Aslan received the International Award and the “Leon Bernard” Prize, a distinction awarded by the World Health Organization for her contribution to the development of gerontology and geriatrics.

In 1974, Ana Aslan’s institute expanded with a new clinical department. In 1980, Ana Aslan, together with pharmacist Elena Polovrăgeanu, invented the geriatric product Aslavital. The product was patented in 1980.

The effects of Aslan’s work on aging have been excellent from the beginning and he has brought famous names as clients: Tito, Charles de Gaulle, Pinochet, Charlie Chaplin, and John Kennedy. In the meantime, the treatment has become available to everyone.

9. Justin Capra – first jetpack

Justin Capra, Romanian inventor - first jetpack
First jetpack prototype

Justin Capra has designed and manufactured 7 aircraft, 15 mopeds, and over 70 cars that were fueled with unconventional propulsion, receiving patents for almost 40 inventions and innovations.

He collaborated with another famous Romanian inventor, Henri Coandă for projects on the study of antigravity, but also for his most important invention. the first flying backpack, which came to be used even for the travel of astronauts in outer space over short distances.

The controversial invention, the jetpack had two versions, one built-in 1956 and another (built at the suggestion of Coanda) with perhydrol as a fuel engine.

Both versions were tested by the parachutist Vasile Sebe, but unfortunately, Justin Capra’s invention was never mass-produced.

However, it will be patented in the USA, 7 years later, by Cecil Martin, Robert Cumings, and Wendell Moore.

10. Ion Cantacuzino – anti-cholera vaccine scheme

Ioan Cantacuzino in laboratory
Ioan Cantacuzino in laboratory

The physician and microbiologist Ion Cantacuzino was born on November 25, 1863, in Bucharest, and is the founder of the Romanian school of immunology and experimental pathology.

A university professor and member of the Romanian Academy, Cantacuzino studied in Paris, attending the courses of three Universities: natural sciences, philosophy, and medicine.

Ion Cantacuzino returned to the country in 1907 and laid the foundations of a public health system, following the model of Western systems.

Although he is well known for his contributions in several medical fields for the discovery of vaccines and treatments for many diseases such as dysentery or typhoid fever, the discovery for which the Romanian scientist remains in history is a cholera vaccination scheme called the Cantacuzino Method, which is still used today.

In 1921, Ion Cantacuzino founded the Institute of Serums and Vaccines, which today bears his name. Through this action, the manufacture in Romania of preparations with the role of prevention against diseases with a major impact on health began. In 1933, Cantacuzino was nominated for the Nobel Prize.

11. Eugen Pavel – Hyer CD-Rom

Hyper CD-Rom

Although we now have USB sticks, Google Drive, and other data storage methods, some of us have started using the CD-ROM. The little device was used to store information on our computers. Eugen Pavel is the Romanian scientist who invented Hyper CD-ROM. It is an optical data storage medium. The device has a storage capacity of 1,000,000 GB, equal to 10,000 classic CDs. In November 1999, the invention was presented at the 48th World Exhibition of Innovation and New Technology in Brussels and gained recognition in several countries such as the USA, Canada, Japan, and Israel.

12. Grigore Antipa – biological dioramas

Grigore Antipa and diorama invention

The world of museums was revolutionized in the early 1900s by the invention of the Romanian scientist Grigore Antipa. For the first time in the organization and arrangement of a natural history museum, in 1907 biological dioramas appear.

During the reorganization of the museum, biological dioramas appeared in 1907, for the first time in the world, which represented a new stage in the evolution and organization of natural history museums.

13. George Constantinescu – synchronization gear

George Constantinescu's invention

One of the most brilliant minds, a man whose ideas far outstripped the time of his physical existence, surprising by vision, inventiveness, and applicability, was the Romanian George Constantinescu.

George Constantinescu’s most important contribution is represented by an ingenious synchronization gear that allowed the Allied fighter planes to gain air superiority in WWI.

It was George Constantinescu’s creation that allowed the pilot to shoot with their machine guns between the propellers of their airplanes.

George Constantinescu is the founder of the theory of sonics, a branch of the mechanics of continuous media that aims to research the transmission of mechanical energy through vibration. He also wrote a book called A Treatise on the Transmission of Power by Vibration.

Last but not least, Constantinescu also built one of the first automatic gearboxes. It was presented at the Paris Motor Show in 1924.

14. Carol Davila – anti-cholera drug and founder of the Romanian health system

Carol Davila - Romanian inventors
Carol Davila

Known as the “Father of higher medical education” in Romania and the reformer of the Romanian health system, Carol Davila created in 1849 a very effective medicine in combating cholera.

The drug has been used successfully by tens of thousands of people, with Carol Davila being awarded for its achievement by both the Ottoman Empire and the French state.

He founded the School of Minor Surgery on the model of the school in Angers, where he began his medical studies.

A year later, in 1856, he created the Pharmacy department in this school, the first one established in Romania.

Three years after its establishment, Davila manages to transform the School of Minor Surgery into the National School of Medicine and Pharmacy. A year later, in addition to this unit, Davila created a new department: Veterinary Medicine. At her school, Davila taught chemistry in 1856. He was also the initiator of public conferences on chemistry.

15. Nicolae Vasilescu-Karpen –Karpen battery

Karpen Battery cell
Karpen Battery cell

In 1950, a Romanian tried to solve the energy thirst of civilization, building a device that he claimed, half a century ago, would work forever. This is how Nicolae Vasilescu-Karpen becomes known for the “Karpen Battery” or “Thermoelectric Battery with Uniform Temperature”, a Perpetuum mobile that generates energy indefinitely without receiving any outside intervention. 72 years after its appearance, the file was still working and is placed in a safe at the “Dimitrie Leonida” National Technical Museum in Bucharest.

Although the unique “battery” created 72  years ago still generates electricity with a constant voltage of 1 volt, some specialists who have analyzed the invention over time have stated that the battery “cannot exist” because it calls into question the second principle of thermodynamics.

There have been many controversies about the invention. For example, some scientists have concluded that the Karpen cell works using only the thermal energy of the environment, while others have said that it is a paradox that could be based on a trick.

16. Lazar Edeleanu – Edeleanu Process and amphetamine

Lazar Edeleanu is the chemist who marked the world with his achievements. His scientific research led to the discovery of amphetamine, 212 inventions, and the oil refining process, known as the “Edeleanu process“.

After long research, in 1887, Lazar Edeleanu discovered amphetamine, a compound used in the pharmacological industry. (The psychostimulatory effects of the substance will be discovered later in the 1920s).

Concerned with obtaining a quality lampante gas, in 1908 he managed to separate the crude oil from the component hydrocarbons. The liquid sulfur dioxide refining process, which revolutionized the oil world, is called the “Edeleanu process“.

In his years of activity and scientific research, Edeleanu obtained 212 patents for inventions in Romania, and abroad.

Its refining process will be taken over by major oil companies in America, Iran, Germany, France, and Japan.

17. Teodor Dragu – first petrol fueled locomotive in Romania

Steam locomotive

One of the great Romanian inventors, less known to the general public, is Teodor Dragu. Born in 1848, he is considered the founder of mechanical engineering in Romania.

Under his coordination, several steam locomotives were built and he introduced a steam heating system for trains in 1887, the first in the world.

However, the imagination and ambition of the Romanian inventor do not stop here, he also introduces the first automatic compressed air braking system, a discovery that gives Theodor Dragu international prestige.

Dragu is also credited with the first use of liquid fuel for locomotives and a fuel oil injector that greatly increased the steam production and traction of the locomotive.

Replacing coal with fuel oil proved to be extremely efficient, greatly reducing costs.

18. Aurel Babes – first cervical cancer screening test

Aurel Babes
Aurel Babes

He discovered the first screening test to diagnose cervical cancer. Enthusiastic about the results of his work, Aurel A Babeș, together with his colleague and mentor, Professor Constantin Daniel presented at the session of the Gynecological Society of Bucharest on January 23, 1927, the communication entitled “Possibility of diagnosing uterine cancer with smears.”

The paper was then published under the title “Diagnosis of cervical cancer by smears” in the journal of the Gynecological Society of Bucharest on April 5, 1927.

The full text of the paper and the author’s illustrations of malignant epithelial cells Médicaleˮ, which was published in the April 11, 1928 issue of the Journal of Cervical Cancer. Unfortunately, the incredible discovery was presented in Romanian and published in French, none of which were easily accessible to the English-speaking scientific community.

19. Aurel Vlaicu – aviation pioneer

Aure Vlaicu in his airplane
Aure Vlaicu in his airplane

Aurel Vlaicu was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in Hunedoara, in 1882. After studying in Orastie and Sibiu, he went to Germany to study engineering at the Technische Hoschschule München. He then went abroad to work for the Opel factories in Rüsselsheim.

He returned home in 1908 with plans for a glider, which he built himself and with which he made several flights in 1909. In the autumn of the same year, he moved to the Kingdom of Bucharest, where he received the support of the authorities and began working on his first plane, Vlaicu I, which he successfully tested in June 1910.

It was the flight of the first plane designed, built, and piloted in Romania. It happened on June 17, 1910, on Dealul Cotrocenilor. Vlaicu I flew only 50 meters, at a height of 3-4 meters, but it was enough for its creator

20. Hermann Oberth – Father of Astronautics

Hermann Oberth - Romanian inventors
Hermann Oberth

Rightly considered the Father of Astronautics and the inventor of rocket technology worldwide, Hermann Oberth was born into a Transylvanian Saxon family on June 25, 1894, in Sibiu. By 1917 he had already designed the model of a rocket-powered with ethanol and oxygen.

Studying medicine first, he began his studies in physics in 1919 at the Technical University of Cluj.

Hermann Oberth’s research formed the basis of investigations by several German missile and astronautics specialists, including the well-known Wernher von Braun, with whom Oberth collaborated in 1929. Between 1941 and 1943, Oberth worked at the German Army missile test station at Peenemünde, where the V2 missile was developed but was not directly involved in the design of the missile.

Conclusion:

A small country like Romania gave to the world many important inventions due to the hard work and ingeniosity of its brilliant inventors.

The great scientific contribution of the Romanian inventors helped speed up the progress in many scientific fields and definitely made our lives today easier.

Who knows, maybe the time will come again, and new Romanian inventors will surprise the world again with many other great inventions/ achievements.

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