I know that we will never be the final arbiters of this contest—only time will tell if we are right—but our vote for one of the top 10 greatest inventors of all time—and local boy done good—goes to Elon Musk.
We think Elon belongs along side Leonardo da Vinci (glider, submarine, anatomy),
Benjamin Franklin (lightning rod, stove, eyeglass bifocals, US mail system, US Declaration of Independence and Constitution) and
Thomas Edison (electric light, sound recording.)
Others in the top ten might include Archimedes, Hero of Alexandria and Musk's car company namesake, Nikola Tesla. Squabble amongst yourselves over the rest.
Elon Musk first came to attention when he co-founded Paypal—a system to instantly transact business between any 2 people in any part of the world. Next his SpaceX became the first commercial venture to do what only government superpowers had managed before—in its October 2012 flight, SpaceX's Dragon 9 delivered supplies to the International Space Station then returned cargo safely to Earth. Musk and SpaceX have their sights set on manned flights and trips to Mars.
Tesla Motors that we think will provide the most profound changes to the world. Tesla's Model S looks, accelerates and handles as well or better than any car in its class. Motor Trend named it "2013 Car of the Year." But it is the fact that it is all that AND produces negligible pollution, is an order of magnitude more efficient than virtually all other cars on the road and, according Motor Trend and Consumer Reports, can travel at 55mph (89 kph) for 285 miles (458 km) without "refueling" and then refuel in 20 to 30 minutes that makes it a game changer in terms of global warming, energy prices and standards of living. The technology in this car will make the world a better place and will take us there in greater speed, style and comfort than anything that came before it. . . queue the EXPLOSIONS!
Elon is producing his history-making machine in Fremont, California about 4 miles away from us in what had been a shuttered GM/Toyota plant. Tesla employees are regular customers and we've started seeing Tesla Model S's driving around Fremont and the San Francisco Bay Area. We plan to replace our Maserati Quattroporte with one!