- Karl Benz - German automotive pioneer
- May 20: Henri Rousseau, French naive painter
- October 15 - Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher
- May 23 - `Abdu'l-Bahá, Persian religious leader
- July 3 - The last pair of Great Auks is killed.
- May 23 - Persian Prophet The Báb announces His revelation, founding Bábism
- May 23 - Samuel Morse sends the first telegram with his electric telegraph.
- Swedish chemistry professor Gustaf Erik Pasch invents the safety match