12 People Who Innovated in Old Age

There’s an old saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But throughout history, there have been plenty of people who have proven this saying wrong. Late in life, they came up with groundbreaking new ideas that changed the world. 

Marie Curie

Marie Curie was a Polish-born scientist who did much of her groundbreaking work in France. She is best known for her research on radioactivity. In 1895, Curie and her husband, Pierre, discovered the element radium. This discovery led to further research on radioactivity, which eventually led to the development of the X-ray.

Curie continued to work on radioactivity until her death in 1934. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and is the only person to have won two Nobel Prizes in different fields (physics and chemistry).

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci is best known as an artist, but he was also a scientist, inventor, and architect. He is considered to be one of the greatest minds of the Renaissance.

In his 50s, da Vinci began working on a book called Codex Leicester, which contained his observations on a variety of subjects, including astronomy, anatomy, and engineering. He also designed a flying machine and a tank. Neither of these inventions was built during his lifetime, but they were both ahead of their time.

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was an American statesman, diplomat, and inventor. He is best known for his role in the American Revolution and his work on electricity.

In his 50s, Franklin began to study electricity. He discovered that lightning is a form of electricity and developed a way to harness it. He also invented the lightning rod, which is still used today.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was an American poet, author, and civil rights activist. She is best known for her memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

In her 50s, Angelou began working on her memoir. The book was published in 1969 and was an instant success. It brought attention to the experience of African Americans, particularly women.

Alan Turing

Alan Turing was a British mathematician, computer scientist, and cryptographer. He is best known for his work on code-breaking during World War II.

In his 50s, Turing developed a machine that could break the German Enigma code. This machine helped the Allies to win the war. Turing was also instrumental in the development of early computers.

Julia Child

Julia Child was an American chef, author, and television personality. She is best known for her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Child didn’t begin her culinary career until she was in her 50s. In 1961, she and her husband, Paul, moved to France. There, she took cooking classes and eventually wrote her cookbook. The book was published in 1961 and became a bestseller. Child went on to host several cooking shows on television.

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman was an American abolitionist and civil rights activist. She is best known for her work on the Underground Railroad.

In her 50s, Tubman began working on the Underground Railroad. This was a network of safe houses that helped slaves escape to freedom. Tubman made 19 trips back and forth between the United States and Canada, helping more than 300 slaves to escape.

George Lucas

George Lucas is an American filmmaker, best known for his work on the Star Wars franchise.

In his 50s, Lucas wrote and directed the first Star Wars movie. The movie was a massive success and spawned five sequels. Lucas also created the Indiana Jones franchise.

Colonel Harland Sanders

Colonel Harland Sanders was an American businessman, best known for his work with Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Sanders began working on his chicken recipe in the 1950s. He perfected a method of frying chicken that made it extra crispy. In 1952, he opened his first restaurant. The restaurant was a success and led to the development of the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise. With Sanders’ old age comes wisdom and knowledge to plan ahead to sustain the business.

John Glenn

John Glenn was an American astronaut, best known for being the first American to orbit the Earth.

In his 50s, Glenn became a test pilot for NASA. He was then selected as one of the original seven astronauts. In 1962, he made history by becoming the first American to orbit the Earth. Glenn went on to have a successful career in politics.

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso was a Spanish painter, best known for his work in the Cubist style.

In his 50s, Picasso began to experiment with Cubism. This was a new style of painting that broke down objects into their component parts. Picasso’s Cubist paintings are some of the most famous and influential works of art in history.

George Washington

George Washington was the first President of the United States. He is best known for his leadership during the American Revolution and his work on the Constitution.

In his 50s, Washington became the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. He led the army to victory in the Revolutionary War. After the war, he helped to draft the Constitution. He was then elected as the first President of the United States.

These examples show that it is never too late to be innovative. Even in retirement, people can continue to make important contributions to their field. So if you’re ever feeling stuck in a rut, remember that it’s never too late to try something new.