Necessity might be the mother of invention. But there are many examples of inventions which came about by complete accident. Let’s count down 10 well known inventions, which only exist as a result of someone’s careless mistake.
10. Stick-it Notes
They were supposed to be stickier, according to Spencer Silver (inventor of the Stick-it Notes). In 1970 he was working for 3M and working on developing a strong adhesive. His efforts resulted in weak glue that was easily removed. So the product was ignored. Later on, a co-worker was frustrated with how bookmarks easily fell out of his Bible. On a whim he tried one of Spencer’s products as a makeshift bookmark. It worked so well, that to this day stick-it notes are widely used to mark pages in book.
9. Artificial Sweetener
This was accidentally discovered by Constantin Fahlberg in 1879. After a hard days work, looking for uses of coal tar, he forgot to wash his hands. He sat down for dinner and ate a roll with his unwashed hands. He noticed a sweet flavor that wasn’t from the rolls. This led to the discovery of the properties of saccharine and the invention of artificial sweeteners.
8. The Popsicle
In 1905, eleven year old Frank Epperson attempted to make his own soda. He left the stirring stick in the cup and overnight the cold air froze the soda. In the morning he saw the results. Eighteen years later he patented his accidental invention, and the Popsicle was born.
Medieval wine merchants made transporting wine by sea easier by boiling the water out of it beforehand. This highly concentrated liquid somehow found its way out of the barrels.
6. Potato Chips
These popular snacks came about in the most unlikely way. In 1853 a restaurant patron was being difficult about the food. He complained about the potatoes, which were too thick and soggy for his taste. He sent them back several times until the chef had enough and sliced them paper-thin and soaked them in grease. Chef George Crum invented the potato chips out of sheer frustration.
In 1938 Roy Plunket was experimenting with a type of CFC refrigerant. He mixed it with hydrochloric acid and left in canisters on dry ice. One of the canisters wouldn’t open, so had to be sawed open. This resulted in white flakes which turned out to be highly anti-adhesive and heat resistant. This new material (Teflon) happened to be perfect for frying pans.
This substance was intended as a clear plastic for scopes in WWII. But the material became very sticky when it came into contact with any moisture. The project was abandoned. But a few years later it came in handy as a strong adhesive which didn’t need heat or pressure.
3. The Microwave
The year was 1945, and a Navy engineer called Percy Spencer was working with a magnetron which emits microwaves. As he was standing next to it, he noticed a chocolate bar in his pocket had melted. This was his eureka moment and led to the invention of the first microwave oven.
2. The Pacemaker
The very first in-check pacemaker was accidentally created by Wilson Greatbatch. The deice he was actually trying to invent was a heart monitor for detecting irregular heart beats. He mistakenly used the wrong resistor. The resulting device would pulse at regular intervals just like a normal heart. This could then be implanted to regulate a patient’s heart beats.
This essential anti-biotic was famously discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928. He forgot to clean his lab before going on vacation. When he got back he found some fungus had grown that was bacteria resistant.