Charles Redheffer was an American inventor who claimed to have invented a perpetual motion machine, He was later exposed when an engineer found a hidden cord that led to an upper floor. Upstairs he found an old man who was turning a hand-crank with one hand and eating bread with the other.
A Canadian inventor tried to create a “supergun” which could fire satellites into orbit from a 512 foot-long barrel embedded inside a hill. When Western funding failed, he turned to military application of his ideas for Saddam Hussein, but then he was assassinated in Brussels.
In 1898 Nikola Tesla once tricked an entire crowd into believing they could control a toy boat by shouting commands – he had in fact invented Radio Control and was piloting the boat himself.
The inventor of Vaseline was such a firm believer in its medicinal properties that he claimed to have eaten a spoonful of it a day; During a bout of pleurisy in his 50s, he ordered his nurse to cover him from head to toe in the substance, and soon recovered. He lived to be 94.
The inventor of the windshield wiper Mary Anderson was granted a patent for it in 1903, she tried to sell the rights in 1905 and was told that it held no commercial value and was unable to sell it. 19 years later, they became standard equipment on every vehicle.
A Brazilian invented caller ID technology more than 25 years ago. Today he is in 40 lawsuits claiming for his royalties that, in total, are more than 25 billion dollars.
The person who invented the stop sign, the pedestrian crosswalk, the traffic circle, the one-way street, the taxi stand, and pedestrian safety islands, William Phelps Eno, never learned how to drive.
Bette Nesmith was a typist in the 1950s. She invented white-out because she was fed up with having to scrap a whole page due to a typo. Later she sold her company for over 40 millions.
Louis Le Prince, who filmed the first ever motion pictures, disappeared without a trace in 1890. Thomas Edison soon took credit as the first and sole inventor of cinema, and even took Le Prince’s son to court to dispute it. Few years later, the son also died under mysterious circumstances.
James Buchanan Duke is credited as the inventor of the cigarette, made billions, and Duke University is named in his honor.