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 355 Inventors, 2 of which were born in South Africa. This makes South Africa the birth place of the 24th most number of Inventors behind Brazil and Romania.

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 75.67, Elon Musk is the most famous South African Inventor.  His biography has been translated into 107 different languages on wikipedia.

Elon Reeve Musk ( EE-lon; born June 28, 1971) is a business magnate, industrial designer and engineer. He is the founder, CEO, CTO and chief designer of SpaceX; early investor, CEO and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; founder of The Boring Company; co-founder of Neuralink; and co-founder and initial co-chairman of OpenAI. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2018. Also that year, he was ranked 25th on the Forbes list of The World's Most Powerful People, and was ranked joint-first on the Forbes list of the Most Innovative Leaders of 2019. A centi-billionaire, Musk became the richest person in the world, for a week, in January 2021.Musk was born to a Canadian mother and South African father and raised in Pretoria, South Africa. He briefly attended the University of Pretoria before moving to Canada when he was 17 to attend Queen's University. He transferred to the University of Pennsylvania two years later, where he received dual bachelor's degrees in economics and physics. He moved to California in 1995 to begin a Ph.D. in applied physics and material sciences at Stanford University, but dropped out after two days to pursue a business career. He co-founded Zip2, a web software company, which was acquired by Compaq for $307 million in 1999. Musk then founded X.com, an online bank. It merged with Confinity in 2000, which had launched PayPal the previous year and was subsequently bought by eBay for $1.5 billion in October 2002. In May 2002, Musk founded SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company, of which he is CEO and lead designer. He joined Tesla Motors, Inc. (now Tesla, Inc.), an electric vehicle manufacturer, in 2004, the year after it was founded, becoming its product architect that year and its CEO in 2008. In 2006, he helped create SolarCity, a solar energy services company (now a subsidiary of Tesla). In 2015, he co-founded OpenAI, a nonprofit research company that aims to promote friendly artificial intelligence. In July 2016, he co-founded Neuralink, a neurotechnology company focused on developing brain–computer interfaces. In December 2016, Musk founded The Boring Company, an infrastructure and tunnel construction company focused on tunnels optimized for electric vehicles. In addition to his primary business pursuits, he envisioned an open-source high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop based on the concept of a vactrain. Musk has also been the subject of criticism due to unorthodox or unscientific stances and highly publicized controversies. Following the rejection of a prototype submarine from Tesla that Musk had offered to be used in the 2018 Tham Luang cave rescue, he insulted a diver who advised in the rescue and disparaged the prototype and in response the diver sued for defamation; a California jury ruled in favor of Musk. Also in 2018, he falsely tweeted that he had secured funding for a private takeover of Tesla at $420 a share. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued him for the comment. He settled with the SEC, temporarily stepping down from his chairmanship and accepting limitations on his Twitter usage. Musk has received substantial criticism for his views on artificial intelligence, public transportation, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo of Phil Ramone

2. Phil Ramone (1934 - 2013)

With an HPI of 59.55, Phil Ramone is the 2nd most famous South African Inventor.  His biography has been translated into 23 different languages.

Philip Ramone (né Rabinowitz, January 5, 1934 – March 30, 2013) 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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