10 Gadgets Invented By Mistake

mistake

Photo: Intuit

There’s a certain serendipitous element to creating things.A mistake might lead to a breakthrough, which is why we have the term “happy accident.”

In fact, it was happy accidents that led to the creation of the following 10 gadgets, some of which you probably use every day.

The Slinky

Inventor: Richard Jones, a naval engineer

What he was trying to make: A meter designed to monitor power on naval battleships

How it was created: Jones was working with tension springs when one of them fell to the ground, bouncing from place to place, and the slinky was born.

The Pacemaker

Inventor: John Hopps, an electrical engineer

What he was trying to make: Hopps was conducting research on hypothermia and was trying to use radio frequency heating to restore body temperature.

How it was created: During his experiment he noticed if a heart stopped beating due to cooling, it could be started again by artificial stimulation.

Silly Putty

Inventor: James Wright, an engineer at General Electric

What he was trying to make: During World War II, The United States Government needed rubber aeroplane tires, boots for soldiers, etc. Wright was trying to make a rubber substitute out of silicon, since it was a widely available material.

How it was created: During a test on silicon oil, Wright added boric acid to the substance. The result was a gooey mess that bounced. Although no one could find any real use for it, it became a fun toy!

Microwave ovens

Inventor: Percy Spencer, an engineer with the Raytheon Corporation

What he was trying to make: He was conducting a radar-related research project with a new vacuum tube.

How it was created: Spencer realised that the candy bar in his pocket began to melt during his experiments. He then put popcorn into the machine, and when it started to pop, he knew he had a revolutionary device on his hands.

Ink-jet printers

Inventor: A Canon engineer

How it was created: After resting a hot iron on his pen by accident, ink was ejected from the pen's point, a principle that led to the creation of the inkjet printer.

Post-It Notes

Inventor: Spencer Silver, a researcher in 3M Laboratories

What he was trying to make: A strong adhesive

How it was created: Silver created an adhesive that was actually weaker than what already existed. It stuck to objects but could be pulled off easily without leaving a mark. Years later a colleague spread the substance on little pieces of paper to mark his place in his choir hymn book, and the idea was born.

X-Rays

Inventor: Wilhem Roentgen, an eccentric physicist

What he was trying to make: He was interested in investigating the properties of cathodic ray tubes.

How it was created: When shining light through the tubes in 1895, he realised fluorescent papers in his lab were completely visible even though his machine had an opaque cover.

Frisbee

Inventor: Walter Frederick Morrison

How it was created: He and his girlfriend Lu (whom he later married) were throwing a cake pan back and forth on the beach when someone offered him $0.25 for it. When he realised that you could simply buy a cake pan for $0.05, a business was born.

Velcro

Inventor: George de Mestral, a Swiss engineer

How it was created: de Mestral was walking through a field and was particularly fascinated with the cockleburs that stuck to his clothes. It wasn't until he studied them under a microscope that he was inspired to replicate their mechanics as a new type of fastener.

Outboard motor

Inventor: Ole Evinrude

How it was created: He wanted a way to get ice cream to his island vacation spot before it melted. He attached a propeller to a motorcycle engine and draped it off the back of his rowboat -- it was the first outboard motor.

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