American 'DNA': Who were the innovators President Obama named in his address?

Sally Ride, America's first woman astronaut, dies Monday, July 23, after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 61.  Here Ride is seen talking with ground control during her six-day space mission on board the Callenger in 1983.

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  • Obama highlighted the accomplishments of a few lesser-known American innovators

(CNN)President Obama on Tuesday night made the case for a renewed partnership between private business and public enterprise by calling out the names of a handful of celebrated American innovators.

The "spirit of discovery is in our DNA," Obama said, naming seven men and women, some more familiar than others. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, stood out among her exalted peers.
Thomas Edison examining motion picture film threaded through one of his film projectors.
There was Thomas Edison, the dynamic inventor of, among other things, the long-lasting electric lightbulb. Then the Wright Brothers, those Indiana and Ohio-born aviation innovators who made their mark in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
George Washington Carver
Obama named George Washington Carver, born into slavery in the years before the Civil War, but known today as a world-famous botanist and cultural giant who changed the face of American agriculture. A champion of new, sustainable crops, he discovered hundreds of peanut-powered derivatives, according to the National Peanut Board, "including chili sauce, shampoo, shaving cream and glue."
Grace Murray Hopper
The president also singled out the late Grace Hopper, better known as "Amazing Grace," a leading computer scientist who specialized in programming before joining the Navy Reserve during World War II, and going on to achieve the rank of Rear Admiral before retiring in 1986.
And then there was Katherine Johnson. The recipient of the 2015 National Medal of Freedom, Johnson, an African-American woman who grew up in West Virginia, entered high school at age 10 and became a distinguished mathematician. She would go on to join NASA, helping make delicate calculations ahead of the first moon landing before retiring in 1986.
"We're every immigrant and entrepreneur from Boston to Austin to Silicon Valley racing to shape a better world," Obama said after running through the names. "And over the past seven years, we've nurtured that spirit."