Who Invented Drones and When?

The first drone was invented by Abraham Karem, a Jewish aeronautics engineer who was born in Baghdad and raised in Israel. Working in his garage in 1973, Karem is credited with developing the first modern drone.

As a drone owner and long-time enthusiast, I, like many of you, have been fascinated with drones and drone technology. I have spent the better part of the last decade learning to pilot drones and conducting research on them.

In this article, we are going to cover the origin of the first modern drone and talk about its inventor, Abraham Karem. If you want to learn more about the first drone or about Karem, you’ll find this information useful and entertaining!

The Story of Abraham Karem’s First Drone

In 1973, while working for the Technion Corporation, Karem developed a drone for the Israeli Air Force. After migrating to the United States in 1977, Karem further developed his technology to create Albatross, the predecessor to the Predator drone.

In a 2012 interview for The Economist, Karem stated “I wanted to prove that performance is largely a result of inspired design and highly optimized and integrated subsystems, not the application of the most advanced technology…

Karem’s Albatross drone became one of the leading defense assets of the U.S. military and opened the door to the wide use of unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs).

What Was the First Drone Used for?

The first drone was used by the Israeli Air Force largely for reconnaissance purposes. To be an answer to Russian air assault operations, Karem’s first drone was used to combat Russian technology.

Where Was the First Drone Invented?

Karem, after much experimentation, created the first drone in his garage. The development led to technological advances in the aeronautics field.

Major Milestones in the History of Drones

Drones have steadily evolved since their genesis in 1973. The continued advancement of technology has caused drones to morph into mainstream use.

In the 1980s, drone usage increased dramatically. The U.S. military began using drones and the scale of drone development multiplied. Following the attack of 9/11 on American soil, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) began using drones in the fight against the Taliban.

By the early 2000s, drones were regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for use by civilians. The general population fell in love with the aircraft and sales skyrocketed. The first consumer drone was developed in 2010 by Parrot, a French manufacturer. 

In 2013, the massive online retailer, Amazon, began toying with the idea of using drones for delivery services. While the concept seemed like science fiction, Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos countered that drone technology for delivery services was very possible.

A few years later, in 2015, the drone industry suffered its first major setback with what is now known as the Lily Disaster. The company filed for bankruptcy leaving a bad taste in the mouths of many drone enthusiasts.

Most recently, the drone industry has been set ablaze by the DJI manufacturing company. DJI unveiled the Phantom consumer series of drones in 2016, laying the foundation upon which the drone industry has returned to consumer favor.

How Have Drones Evolved Since the First One?

Since the first modern drone in 1973, drones have continually evolved from primarily military use to consumer-driven products. Technology increases have also given drone photography and videography uses that are appealing to enthusiasts and professionals alike.

What is Karem Doing Today?

Abraham Karem, now the founder and owner of Karem Aircraft, continues his work in aeronautics. 

After founding Frontier Systems in 2004 and continuing funded research from DARPA, Karem turned his focus to vertical takeoff and landing technology, which he still conducts research on today.


Below are a few of the frequently asked questions about the first modern drone and my brief answers.

How many drones did Abraham Karem invent?

The exact number of drones invented by Karen is unknown, however, it is estimated that he has created “hundreds of drones”.

What year was the first drone invented?

The first modern drone was invented in 1973. There are earlier documented inventions of drones dating back to the late 1800s.

How far could the first drone fly?

Karem’s first drone in 1973 was said to have flown for 56 hours. The distance of the flight was not recorded but we can deductively reason that it would have been for many miles.

What did Karem do with the first drone?

Karem’s first drone was sold to the Israeli Air Force for combat against Russian Air Defense.

Final Thoughts

Abraham Karem is known as the Drone Daddy. He is credited with developing the first modern drone in 1973 and his inventions have been used by both the Israeli and United States military. Since his invention, drones have evolved into a consumer product and are widely used by civilians today.

Like most of you, I absolutely love drones! I find everything about them fascinating. Drones have captivated people since the first modern invention and I’m certain they will be around for a long time to come.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this article or if you have comments or questions, please feel free to leave me a message and I will reply as soon as possible. Until then…happy flying!

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