Did You Know…

Hungarians have been awarded 20 Nobel Prizes for advancements in science and culture. The most recent ones belong to mRNA researcher Katalin Karikó, Professor at the University of Szeged, who is the first Hungarian woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine; and Ferenc Krausz, who conducted his molecular fingerprinting research in Szeged, and won a Nobel Prize in Physics. Both of them were awarded in 2023.

Hungarian-Americans are pioneers in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, the California Wine Industry and the NFL

Two Hungarians have been named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year; and a Hungarian woman made the 20 Most Influential Business Geniuses of the 20th Century List

Hungarian-Americans have 8 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

To this day, you will hear the music of Hungarian composers, Ferenc Liszt, and Bela Bartok at football games, recitals and videos.

Hungarian inventions

Hungarians are responsible for a number of inventions Americans use every day. In fact, we can thank Hungarian inventors every time we take a Vitamin C tablet, use a ballpoint pen, light a match, wear a seatbelt or create a Word document on a computer…and so much more.

Safety Match: 1836

János Irinyi, a Hungarian chemist, invented the safety match, which only ignites when struck against a specially-prepared striking surface. It cannot burn until they contact both friction and phosphorus.

Telephone Exchange: 1876

Hungarian engineer Tivadar Puskás proposed the idea of a telephone exchange as early as 1876, when he saw first-hand how a telephone worked in America. In the end, the patent for the telephone exchange was filed in the name of Charles Scribner, but famous American inventor Thomas Edison acknowledged that the invention’s mastermind was Tivadar Puskás.

The first telephone exchange in Hungary was put into service in Budapest on May 1, 1881.

Telephone Herald (Telefon Hírmondó): 1883

On February 15, 1893, Tivadar Puskás created “The Telephone Herald,” a predecessor to the radio. It made it possible for the first time to transmit news to different points across the city simultaneously.

Puskás started the first broadcast with the following quote: “Greetings to the inhabitants of Budapest. We greet you in a way that is exceptional in the world. Greetings to the first city from which the Telephone Herald will start its victorious journey to the rest of the world.”

Tungsten Filament Lamp: 1903

Thomas Alva Edison, an American inventor, created the lightbulb, but the concept was further developed by Hungarian chemical engineers Sándor Just, Ferenc Hanaman, and Hungarian physicist Imre Bródy, who patented the manufacturing right of the tungsten filaments in Budapest on December 13, 1904.

Fire Extinguisher: 1928

Fire Fighter Colonel Kornél Szilvay, a mechanical engineer, filed a patent for the Fire Extinguisher in 1928.

Helicopter: 1928

Although the motor-driven helicopter was invented by Jan Bahyl and the first piece manufactured in serial production was designed by Igor Sikorsky, it was the Hungarian aviation expert Oszkár Asbóth who first took off in an experimental helicopter on September 9, 1928. However, it is to be noted that his professional role is disputed by some sources.

Foods high in Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) with structural chemical formula of Vitamin C. Photo: Shutterstock
Foods high in Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) with structural chemical formula of Vitamin C. Photo: Shutterstock

Vitamin C: 1932

Albert Szent-Györgyi, Nobel Prize-winning Hungarian doctor and biochemist, discovered Vitamin C and immediately gained world-wide recognition. In 1937, he received the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology in biological combustion. He went on to establish the Marine Biology Laboratory for medical studies in Woods Hole, MA.

Nuclear reactor and atomic bomb: 1934, 1936

Leo Szilard, Hungarian-German-American physicist and inventor, was the man behind the concept of nuclear chain reaction. He filed two patents in 1934 and 1936: one for energy storage, and the other for the invention of the atomic bomb.

Eugene P. Wigner, one of the builders of the atomic bomb, received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963, for clarifying the principles, governing mechanics and interaction or protons and neutrons in the atomic nucleus.

Explosion of a nuclear bomb with a mushroom in the desert. Photo: Shutterstock
Explosion of a nuclear bomb with a mushroom in the desert. Photo: Shutterstock

Color Television: 1940

Peter Carl Goldmark, a Hungarian-American engineer and physicist was working at CBS, a television and radio network, and went on to perfect the development of color TV after World War II.

Old color TV Photo: Shutterstock
Old color TV Photo: Shutterstock
Ballpoint pens Photo: Shutterstock
Ballpoint pens Photo: Shutterstock

Ballpoint Pen: 1943

László József Bíró was a Hungarian journalist and painter. Though others also worked on the idea of the ballpoint pen, the model in use today is associated with Bíró. His approach was to use thicker ink applied by a small, spinning ball at the point of the pen, that avoids smearing ink on paper.

Holography: 1947

Dennis Gabor, a Hungarian-British electrical engineer and physicist, invented and developed Holography, an image-generating technique based on the wave nature of light that makes the creation of three-dimensional images. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1971.

Particle accelerator: 1951

The first Hungarian particle accelerator was built by physicist Károly Simonyi in 1951 in Sopron, Hungary.

Rubik’s Cube: 1974, Patented on December 31, 1977

Ernő Rubik, a Hungarian architect and sculptor, invented the Rubik’s Cube, originally referred to as the Magic Cube. To date, nearly 400 million cubes have been sold, making it the most popular selling toy of all time. With a billion different combinations, it has inspired worldwide Rubik’s Cube speed competitions and a generation of 3-D puzzle toys. The first World Rubik’s Cube Championship was held on June 5, 1982. The current world record for solving the puzzle is 3.13 seconds.

Rubik’s Cube invented by Hungarian architect Ernő Rubik in 1974. Photo: Shutterstock
Rubik’s Cube invented by Hungarian architect Ernő Rubik in 1974. Photo: Shutterstock


  • “Magyars in America” Booklet created by Lauer Learning - Andrea Lauer Rice, President, Hungarian American Coalition
Hungarian American Coalition
Bethlen Gábor Alap