The Slinky was invented by accident, when a Mechanical Engineer was working to devise springs that could keep sensitive ship equipment steady at sea. After accidentally knocking some samples off a shelf, he watched in amazement as they gracefully “walked” down instead of falling.
Visual Arts student Berk Ilhan has created a mirror that will only work if you smile. His idea was that this would help cheer up cancer patients by forcing them to smile. He’s hoping to sell these for between $2000 and $3000 each. So far, the reaction to his invention has been, shall we say, not positive.
Samuel Morse invented the telegraph after he received a letter of his wife’s failing health… after she’d died.
One of Thomas Edison’s oddest inventions was a voice-driven sewing machine operated by blowing into a mouthpiece. It never caught on.
The sandwich was supposedly invented by the Earl of Sandwich, who was so addicted to gambling that he refused to leave the table for meals, and demanded something he could eat with one hand. It caught on amongst other players, who ordered “the same as sandwich” – thus, “the sandwich”.
The chicken nugget was invented by a Cornell University food science professor, who published the results academically instead of patenting them.
The rotary phone was invented by an undertaker. The operator in his hometown was married to his competition, so the rotary dial was a way to bypass the human operator.
Northern Paper Company offered the first splinter-free toilet paper in the early 1930s.
Starting in 1910, a series of books were published featuring a fictional boy-inventor by the name of Tom Swift. One of these books was titled “Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle.” Many years later, this led to the naming of the TASER that police now carry: “Tom A. Swift Electric Rifle”.