Miles Sullivan ’41—Father of Inventions

bird-3A Rover explores Mars and a toy bird fascinates millions.

All thanks to Miles Sullivan ’41.

The Wabash chemistry major turned inventor at the prolifically creative Bell Laboratories of the 1950s and 60s died at age 99 in February of this year. Yet his genius lives on in the electrical contacts used on the Mars Rovers and in the entertaining heat engine in the shape of a glass and plastic bird that bobs up and down and plunges its beak into a glass of water.

That’s right—a Wabash man patented the drinking bird!

“Facts tumbled out of my father’s brain like salt from a loosely capped shaker,” his daughter, Anne Sullivan, writes in “The Father of Inventions.” “He must have been born with an extra curiosity gene, because his fascination with life permeated everything he touched.”

Read her remembrance here, or watch the 30-year-old broadcast above and be introduced to the man who invented the bird and learn the secret of how it works.