Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist, inventor, philanthropist, and businessman. He was extremely successful as an inventor, holding 355 patents throughout his lifetime. One of his most famous inventions was dynamite, which was used worldwide for mining and infrastructure development after it was patented in 1867.
In 1888, a French newspaper mistakenly published an obituary for Alfred Nobel. The obituary was extremely negative and condemned Nobel for the invention of dynamite. Afraid that he would be remembered so negatively after his death, Nobel secretly altered the statement in his will. With this new statement, Nobel set aside the majority of his fortune to establish the Nobel Prize after his death. The award was to be given only to those who “have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind during the preceding year.”
After Nobel’s death on November 27, 1895, the contents of his will caused international controversy, and the first Nobel Prize was not awarded until five years later, in 1901. Since then, it has been awarded annually in the fields of Chemistry, Physics, Physiology, Literature, Medicine, and Peace. Over 900 people have been awarded a Nobel Prize, including Albert Einstein, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and President Barack Obama.