28 Interesting Facts About Inventors
By Editorial Staff
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Hi. I'm John Green. This is my salon. Welcome to mental_floss video.
1. Did you know that Alfred Nobel was inspired to start the Nobel Prize when he read his own obituary in a newspaper that ran it by mistake? Nobel didn't like the headline, "The Merchant of Death is Dead," a reference to the fact that he invented dynamite, so he found a new legacy for himself. The internet may tell you this is a myth, but it's not. See the video description below for proof. Anyway, that's the first of many interesting facts about inventors I'm going to share with you today, brought to you by our friends at Geico.
2. Inventor of vaccines and pasteurization, Louis Pasteur was the head of the science program at a French school during the mid 1800's. He once told students that anyone caught smoking would be expelled. Seventy-three of the school's 80 students resigned.
3. Steve Jobs has claimed that taking calligraphy courses in college is one of the reasons that the earliest Macintosh computers were successful. They were the first ones with beautiful typography. Take that opponents of cursive! Just kidding. I'm also an opponent of cursive.
4. John Harvey Kellogg and W.K. Kellogg, who invented Corn Flakes, ran a medical facility called the Battle Creek Sanitarium in the late 1800's. Some of their patients included Amelia Earhart, Mary Todd Lincoln, and Henry Ford.
5. Speaking of Henry Ford, when President Woodrow Wilson asked him to run for a seat on the Senate, Ford responded with a letter that read, "If they want to elect me let them do so, but I won't make a penny's investment." He lost the election.
6. Another inventor turned politician was Samuel Morse, who created the telegraph and Morse code and he was also kind of the worst. For instance, he ran for mayor of New York with the slogan "No Immigrants, No Catholics."
7. Alexey Pajitnov invented Tetris in 1984, but because he lived in the Soviet Union at the time he had to cede its rights to the government. He did eventually received royalties in the '90s, but the Tetris theme song is still in the public domain, which is why you are hearing it right now. By the way, I'm sorry we didn't pay your royalties, Tetris guy, but we didn't pay the Duck Hunt guy either.
8. A man named Yoshira Nakamatsu has 3377 patents, which is about three times what Thomas Edison accumulated. Some of his patented inventions include a toilet seat-lifter, a self-defense wig, and a musical golf putter. Also, he claims to have invented the basic technology for the floppy disk, which is all fine and good, but where would we be without musical golf putters?
9. In 1893, a woman named Margaret A. Wilcox invented an early car heater. She also had a patent for a washing machine that would wash both clothes and dishes. Why didn't that happen?
10. The inventor of the bread clip, Floyd Paxton, thought of the idea when he was on an airplane and needed to reseal a bag of snacks. So he created one on a whim, out of a piece of plastic. Needless to say, this was before planes had Wi-Fi.
11. Among his many eccentricities, Nikola Tesla hated pearls. He wouldn't speak to a woman who was wearing them, and if his secretary came to work wearing pearls, she was sent home for the day. He also once fell in love with a pigeon, presumably because they never wore pearls, but let's move on.
12. Benjamin Franklin had many hobbies including taking popular tunes and rewriting their lyrics to turn them into drinking songs.
13. In 2012, fifth-grader Clara Lazen created a model for an undiscovered molecule, tetranitratoxycarbon. Her teacher sent a picture of it to a chemist and now it has been published in scientific journals.
14. Garrett Morgan who lived from 1877 to 1963, invented many things with only an elementary school education. He created some of the earliest gas masks and hair straightening creams. He also improved pre-existing sewing machines and traffic signals. We have a sewing machine on our wall. We love it so much it's guarded by a lion.
15. The lint roller was created by Nicholas McKay after he struggled to clean his suit before chaperoning a high school dance.
16. A man named Paul Brown invented the upside-down squeeze bottle in 1991. He sold his product to everyone from shampoo companies to ketchup companies to NASA, and then four years later he sold his company for $13 million.
17. A similar inventor, Robert Taylor, came up with the idea of soap in a pump bottle, and to make sure no one stole his idea, he bought about 100 million of those pump bottles. After cornering the market for pump bottles, after about six months he made about $25 million.
18. Alfred Fielding and Marc Shuvon were trying to develop a 3D plastic wall paper when they accidentally invented something else—bubble wrap.
19. Douglas Fuller designed the computer mouse, but the invention never made anybody rich because its patent expired before it became a commonly-used technology. Some advice for inventors out there—be ahead of your time, but not too far ahead of your time.
20. Paul Winchell invented the first mechanical, artificial heart. He was also the original voice of Tigger from Winnie the Pooh and Gargamel from the Smurfs.
21, 22, and 23. Alright, let's speed up. The snowmobile was invented by Joseph Armand Bombardier who started working on it when he was just 19 years old. Margaret E. Knight was only 12 when she invented a device for textile mills that would stop them if they got stuck. Leo Fender, who invented the first mass-produced electric guitar, never learned to play the guitar.
24-27. John Landis Mason invented Mason jars. He also invented screw-top salt shakers. Before that, you just poured salt onto your food willy nilly. The guy who invented the saxophone was named Adolph Sax. A man named Heinrich Dreiser invented both heroin and aspirin. The inventor of the smiley face symbol, Harvey Ball, was paid just $45 for the design.
28. And finally, I return to my salon to tell you that I don't know who invented the fire hydrant, because it's believed that the patent for the fire hydrant burned in a fire.
Thanks for watching mental_floss video, which is made with the help of all of these nice people. And thanks again to Geico, who made this video possible. Hopefully, we've inspired you to invent a convenient ketchup holder and become a millionaire and, as we say in my hometown, "Don't forget to be awesome."