Modern cruise control was developed by an engineer frustrated by his lawyer who kept speeding up and slowing down the car as he talked.
In 1969 Forrest Parry, an IBM engineer, had the idea to affix magnetic tape to a plastic card. Every adhesive failed. He went home frustrated. His wife was ironing when he walked in. She suggested he fuse the tape onto the card with the iron. It was a success, and the magstripe card was born.
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.