The beauty of some inventions that changed the world and made our life easier is that they came to existence by accident. Most of the inventors stumbled up on them with no intention of finding that particular product. Today inventions are a result of planed effort but back in the day, many a times, inventions were a result of a simple mistake and the eye for detail and the curiosity of the inventors. These are accidental inventions that changed the world.
1. Potato Chips
In 1853, George Crum a chef in a New York City restaurant stumbled on Potato chips when a fussy customer kept sending back his plate of French fries calling them too soggy. Crum, ticked off with the unsatisfied customer, sliced potato in thin slices, dipped them in a bowl of salt and deep fried them. To his surprise the customer loved it and thus Potato chips.
Civil war veteran and Pharmacist John Pemberton, eventually was trying to discover a medicine when he fell up on Coke that changed the world in cool drinks. That is why Coca Cola originally contained Cocaine, although later it was omitted. Those were the days when coke was bought from medical stores before it became a commercial drink.
In 1905, when soda pop had just come out and was a crave among children. 11 year old Frank Epperson tried recreating the drink at home. He used a mixture and water and getting side tracked that day he left it whole night on his front porch. The next day as temperatures had dropped the previous night he realized in the morning that his drink had frozen with the stirring stick stuck in the middle. He flipped it out of the glass and it is now called a Popsicle.
4. Ice Cream Cones
Although ice cream had been sold on dishes then, the concept of ice cream in cones wasn’t prevalent. In a World fair in 1904, one ice cream stall was doing amazingly whereas a waffle store next to it was not getting any sales. The Ice cream store owner soon ran out of plates and both the store owners and decided to roll the waffles up and top it with ice cream, hence the ice cream cone.
Roy Plunkett, a chemist then in the early 20th century was working for DuPont was experimenting on refrigerants when he stumbled on a non -sticky, non- reactive surface now known as Teflon. He quickly patented it knowing what he had just discovered.
Chemist Leo Hendrik Baekeland in the 1900’s was looking for an alternative for insulation material when his experiment went wrong and he made a moldable material that can withstand high temperatures, Plastic.
In 1896, physicist Henri Becquerel was trying to produce X- rays through fluorescent material on exposure to the sun. The experiment failed as clouds covered the sky. Enraged, he threw the equipment in the drawer. A week later he realized that a uranium rock that he had kept in the drawer made an imprint on a photographic plate without any exposure to the sun. Thus radioactivity was discovered.
8. Synthetic Dye
18 year old chemist William Perkin was looking for cure for malaria and on goofing up the experiment he observed that the result of his disaster was a shiny radiating color from his petri dish. This disaster revolutionized the fashion industry.
Wilson Greatbatch was trying to invent a device that could record heart beats. He inserted the wrong resistor which mimicked the action of the heart leading to the first pacemaker.
Percy spencer in 1945 was fiddling with microwave emitters when he realized that the chocolate in his pocket started to melt. Let’s all thank him for making our lives thus more convenient.
11. Super Glue
Harry Coover, a researcher at the Kodak Labs was developing plastic lenses for a gun sights when he stumbled up on an extremely sticky substance made from cyanoacrylate. He discarded what he saw but in years to come this would be what we call super glue.
Swiss engineer George de Mestral realized on a camping trip how burr would stick to his pant. He replicated the same idea but it was known to all until NASA used this technique and popularized it worldwide.
In 1895 Wilhelm Roentgen, was experimenting with cathode rays when he realized that a fluorescent material was glowing in spite of it being behind a thick block. He realized it was travelling through and came up with the idea of X-Rays.
14. Safety Glass
Édouard Bénédictus, by mistake knocked off a glass flask off his table and to his surprise the glass only cracked and did not break. On closer inspection he realized that the glass contained plastic cellulose nitrate which was in the glass previously and formed an inner coating that prevented it from shattering.
15. Corn Flakes
Keith Kellogg was helping his brother make meals for patients in the sanitarium when he realized that the bread dough which he had left out had become flaky. On seeing the flaky dough, he decided to bake it anyway and the rest is history.
Gunpowder and nitroglycerine were around for ages but Alfred Noble, the man who started the Noble peace prize, accidently found a way to contain the powder without exploding and this helped it making dynamite.
Crawford Long, William Morton, and Charles Jackson were the first to notice the effects of anesthesia through nitrous oxide and laughing gas. They used the main component for anesthesia.
18. Stainless Steel
Harry Brearly, an English metallurgist, was trying to make a non -rustic gun barrel. He tried it on various corrosives to see if it does not rust one of them being lemonade and quickly realized that what he discovered could be used for cutlery.
Alexander Fleming, while studying staphylococcus added bacteria to it and left for a vacation. When he returned he was surprised to see that a mold grew instead of the bacteria. On investigating it he realized the byproduct of the mold inhibited the bacteria from growing thus leading to the invention of penicillin.
Willie Kizart the rhythm guitarist of ‘The kings of Rhythm’ arrived one day at the studio and realized that his amplifier was damaged, it had fallen out of the car. On plugging it made a distorted sound when played on an intended clean tone, both the band and the producer Sam Phillips loved the layering it gave to the song and decided to use the distorted sound on the their record. This was the first recorded instance of musicians using distortion, an effect that revolutionized the sound of music and popularized by the likes of Jimi Hendricks, Black Sabbath and so on.