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The Most Famous

INVENTORS from South Africa

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This page contains a list of the greatest South African Inventors. The pantheon dataset contains 354 Inventors, 2 of which were born in South Africa. This makes South Africa the birth place of the 23rd most number of Inventors behind Switzerland and Egypt.

Top 2

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the most legendary South African Inventors of all time. This list of famous South African Inventors is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity.

Photo of Elon Musk

1. Elon Musk (1971 - )

With an HPI of 80.35, Elon Musk is the most famous South African Inventor.  His biography has been translated into 122 different languages on wikipedia.

Elon Reeve Musk ( EE-lon; born June 28, 1971) is a business magnate and investor. He is the founder, CEO and chief engineer of SpaceX; angel investor, CEO and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; owner and CEO of Twitter, Inc.; founder of the Boring Company; co-founder of Neuralink and OpenAI; and president of the philanthropic Musk Foundation. Musk is the second-wealthiest person in the world, according to both the Bloomberg Billionaires Index and Forbes's Real Time Billionaires list as of May 2023 primarily from his ownership stakes in Tesla and SpaceX, with an estimated net worth of around $167 billion according to the Bloomberg and $176.2 billion according to Forbes.Musk was born in Pretoria, South Africa, and briefly attended the University of Pretoria before moving to Canada at age 18, acquiring citizenship through his Canadian-born mother. Two years later, he matriculated at Queen's University and transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, where he received bachelor's degrees in economics and physics. He moved to California in 1995 to attend Stanford University. After two days, he dropped out and, with his brother Kimbal, co-founded the online city guide software company Zip2. In 1999, Zip2 was acquired by Compaq for $307 million and Musk co-founded, a direct bank. merged with Confinity in 2000 to form PayPal, which eBay acquired for $1.5 billion in 2002. With $175.8 million, Musk founded SpaceX in 2002, a spaceflight services company. In 2004, he was an early investor in the electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Motors, Inc. (now Tesla, Inc.). He became its chairman and product architect, assuming the position of CEO in 2008. In 2006, he helped create SolarCity, a solar energy company that was later acquired by Tesla and became Tesla Energy. In 2015, he co-founded OpenAI, a nonprofit artificial intelligence research company. The following year, he co-founded Neuralink—a neurotechnology company developing brain–computer interfaces—and the Boring Company, a tunnel construction company. Musk has also proposed a hyperloop high-speed vactrain transportation system. In 2022, his acquisition of Twitter for $44 billion was completed. Musk has expressed views that have made him a polarizing figure. He has been criticized for making unscientific and misleading statements, including that of spreading COVID-19 misinformation. In 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued Musk for falsely tweeting that he had secured funding for a private takeover of Tesla. Musk stepped down as chairman of Tesla and paid a $20 million fine as part of a settlement agreement with the SEC.

Photo of Phil Ramone

2. Phil Ramone (1934 - 2013)

With an HPI of 46.35, Phil Ramone is the 2nd most famous South African Inventor.  His biography has been translated into 24 different languages.

Philip Rabinowitz (January 5, 1934 – March 30, 2013), better known as Philip Ramone, was a South African-born American recording engineer, record producer, violinist and composer, who in 1958 co-founded A & R Recording, Inc., a recording studio with business partner Jack Arnold at 112 West 48th Street, New York, upstairs from the famous musicians' watering hole, Jim & Andy's, and several doors east of Manny's Music. The success of the original A & R Recording allowed it to expand into several studios and a record production company. He was described by Billboard as "legendary", and the BBC as a "CD pioneer".

Pantheon has 2 people classified as inventors born between 1934 and 1971. Of these 2, 1 (50.00%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living inventors include Elon Musk. The most famous deceased inventors include Phil Ramone.

Living Inventors

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Deceased Inventors

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