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The Greatest Minds of All Time

Updated August 28, 2018 738.7k votes 64.4k voters 1.6m views1.4k items

List RulesVote up the individuals who you think had the most influential ideas throughout history.

List of the Greatest Minds of All Time, throughout history. This list represents the most influential thinkers across various disciplines, ranked in a way that represents the power of their ideas and their impact on the world. The wisest men and women include top philosophers, physicists, famous poets, thinkers, teachers, physiologists, artists, inventors, engineers, the most irreplaceable CEOs in the world, economists and politicians and those whose talents span across many fields of study.

This list takes a historic perspective, so the greatest thinkers who are included on this list come from many different eras. The greatest minds of the 21st century may be quite different from great geniuses from the distant past, but each person should be judged within the context of the time that they were living. For example, inventing a new type of telephone in 2013 would not qualify one as "the most brilliant mind of all time," but in 1876 when Alexander Graham Bell first patented the telephone, it was an act of genius not seen before.

See Also: The Most Influential People of All Time.
  • Leonardo da Vinci1

    Leonardo da Vinci

    Dec. at 67 (1452-1519)

    BirthplaceVinci, Italy

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  • Isaac Newton2

    Isaac Newton

    Dec. at 84 (1643-1727)

    BirthplaceWoolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, United Kingdom

    Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/27) was an English mathematician,...  more

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  • Galileo Galilei3

    Galileo Galilei

    Dec. at 78 (1564-1642)

    BirthplacePisa, Italy

    Galileo Galilei ( GAL-il-AY-oh, also US: -⁠EE-oh, Italian: [ɡaliˈlɛːo ɡaliˈlɛi]; 15 February...  more

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  • Albert Einstein4

    Albert Einstein

    Dec. at 76 (1879-1955)

    BirthplaceUlm, Germany

    Albert Einstein ( EYEN-styne; German: [ˈalbɛɐ̯t ˈʔaɪnʃtaɪn] (listen); 14 March 1879 – 18 April...  more

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  • Nikola Tesla5

    Nikola Tesla

    Dec. at 87 (1856-1943)

    BirthplaceSmiljan, Croatia

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  • Marie Curie6

    Marie Curie

    Dec. at 67 (1867-1934)

    BirthplaceWarsaw, Second Polish Republic

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  • Socrates7
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  • Archimedes8
    Archimedes of Syracuse (; Greek: Ἀρχιμήδης; c. 287 – c. 212 BC) was a Greek mathematician,...  more
  • Pythagoras9
    Pythagoras of Samos (c. 570 – c. 495 BC) was an ancient Ionian Greek philosopher and the...  more

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  • Aristotle10


    Dec. at 62 (383 BC-321 BC)

    BirthplaceStagira, Greece

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  • Plato11
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  • Johannes Kepler12

    Johannes Kepler

    Dec. at 59 (1571-1630)

    BirthplaceWeil der Stadt, Germany

    Johannes Kepler (; German: [joˈhanəs ˈkɛplɐ, -nɛs -]; December 27, 1571 – November 15, 1630)...  more
  • Alan Turing13

    Alan Turing

    Dec. at 42 (1912-1954)

    BirthplaceMaida Vale, London, United Kingdom

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  • Ludwig van Beethoven14

    Ludwig van Beethoven

    Dec. at 57 (1770-1827)

    BirthplaceBonn, Germany

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  • Nicolaus Copernicus15

    Nicolaus Copernicus

    Dec. at 70 (1473-1543)

    BirthplaceToruń, Poland

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  • Michelangelo16


    Dec. at 89 (1475-1564)

    BirthplaceCaprese Michelangelo, Italy

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  • Carl Friedrich Gauss17

    Carl Friedrich Gauss

    Dec. at 78 (1777-1855)

    BirthplaceBraunschweig, Germany

    Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss (; German: Gauß [ˈkaɐ̯l ˈfʁiːdʁɪç ˈɡaʊs] (listen); Latin: Carolus...  more
  • Wilhelm Röntgen18

    Wilhelm Röntgen

    Dec. at 78 (1845-1923)

    BirthplaceRemscheid, Germany

    Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (; German: [ˈvɪlhɛlm ˈʁœntɡən]; 27 March 1845 – 10 February 1923) was a...  more
  • Michael Faraday19

    Michael Faraday

    Dec. at 76 (1791-1867)

    BirthplaceNewington Butts, United Kingdom

    Michael Faraday FRS (; 22 September 1791 – 25 August 1867) was an English scientist who...  more
  • Johann Sebastian Bach20

    Johann Sebastian Bach

    Dec. at 65 (1685-1750)

    BirthplaceEisenach, Germany

    Johann Sebastian Bach (31 March [O.S. 21 March] 1685 – 28 July 1750) was a German composer and...  more

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  • Euclid21
    Euclid (; Ancient Greek: Εὐκλείδης – Eukleídēs, pronounced [eu̯.kleː.dɛːs]; fl. 300 BC),...  more
  • Max Planck22

    Max Planck

    Dec. at 89 (1858-1947)

    BirthplaceKiel, Germany

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  • Johannes Gutenberg23

    Johannes Gutenberg

    Dec. at 70 (1398-1468)

    BirthplaceMainz, Germany

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  • Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz24

    Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz

    Dec. at 70 (1646-1716)

    BirthplaceLeipzig, Germany

    Gottfried Wilhelm (von) Leibniz (sometimes spelled Leibnitz) (; German: [ˈɡɔtfʁiːt ˈvɪlhɛlm...  more
  • René Descartes25

    René Descartes

    Dec. at 54 (1596-1650)

    BirthplaceDescartes, Indre-et-Loire, France

    René Descartes ( day-KART, also UK: DAY-kart, French: [ʁəne dekaʁt] (listen); Latinized:...  more