Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Everyday Inventions [I] has a great section on fun facts about inventions. I've copied some of the stories below:
A workman who left the soap mixing machine on too long was responsible for making Ivory Soap. He was so embarrassed by his mistake that he threw the mess in a stream. Imagine his dismay when the evidence of his error floated to the surface! Result: Ivory soap, the soap that floats.
Band-Aid? Bandage was invented by a Johnson & Johnson employee whose wife had cut herself. Earl Dickson's wife was rather accident prone, so he set out to develop a bandage that she could apply without help. He placed a small piece of gauze in the center of a small piece of surgical tape, and what we know today as the Band-Aid bandage was born!
The inventor of the World Wide Web, British-born Tim Berners-Lee, never made money on his invention, which revolutionized the computer world. In 1989 he envisioned a way to link documents on the Internet using "hypertext" so "surfers" could jump from one document to another through highlighted words. Berners-Lee decided not to patent his technology since he feared that, if he did patent it, use of the Web would be too expensive and would therefore not become used worldwide. He therefore passed up a fortune so the world could learn and communicate.
Robert Adler has the dubious distinction of being the Father of the Couch Potato. Back in 1955 Adler was employed by what was then Zenith Radio Corp., where he was charged to invent something that would allow viewers to turn down the TV volume without leaving their chairs. After a series of flops (such as a wired contraption that people tripped over), Adler hit on the idea of using sound waves. Thus the Remote Control was born . . . and some viewers haven't moved since!
In 1879 Auguste Bartholdi received a design patent for the Statue of Liberty.
Galileo invented the thermometer in 1593.
The first ballpoint pen was invented by Hungarian journalist Lasalo Biro and his chemist brother, Georg, in 1938.

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