Benjamin franklin-benjamin franklin (january 17, 1706 [o.s. january 6, 1705] april 17, 1790) was one of the founding fathers of the united states. a noted polymath, franklin was a leading author and printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. as a scientist, he was a major figure in the american enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. he invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and the glass armonica. he formed both the first public lending library in america and the first fire department in pennsylvania.