With just 5 days to go until mental_floss's new book In the Beginning releases, we're handing you another fantastic origin story. Today's post goes out to all the shower stall singers and closet crooners out there. Enjoy!
Karaoke (b. 1970)
Given how many horrendous karaoke performances we've been subjected to, we weren't at all surprised to learn that the guy who invented the karaoke machine can't sing, can't read music, and plays the keyboards about as well as your average third-grader.
Songs in the Off-key of Life
Inoue quickly realized he was on to something. With some help from his buddies, he built 11 prototype machines, kitted them out with amplifiers and background music, and then leased them to bars in Kobe.
They were an immediate hit. But Inoue made one crucial mistake: He didn't patent his invention. Big companies quickly realized they could make a mint on machines and tapes and made their own. Inoue only went so far as to patent two things: a type of plastic-covered songbook for wannabe Frank Sinatras, and a concoction he claimed could ward off rats and cockroaches in more downscale karaoke joints. But hey, give the poor guy credit: He certainly did things His Way.
Can't wait to read more of In the Beginning? Order your copy at any of these fine stores today: Amazon, B&N, Borders, Books-A-Million. Oh, and if you e-mail us your proof of purchase at firstname.lastname@example.org, we'll send you an autographed sticker to place in the book!