1. The Microwave – Percy L. Spencer
After a brief stint in the Navy, this brilliant electronic engineer working for Raytheon was the inventor of Microwave oven. In 1945, when he was working with the microwave emitting magnetron (a core component of a radar array), he realized the potential in this frequency of radiation. He felt a strange sensation in his pants following which he found that the chocolate in his pocket had melted. Quickly realizing the potential, he set out to bring forth an invention whose usefulness can’t be thanked enough.
2. Teflon – Roy Plunkett
Think about the situation in the kitchen, had the Teflon not been invented. Your pancakes, omelet, and every what not sticky foods that you would never enjoy in one piece? You must thank its inventor chemist Roy Plunkett, who was working in the laboratory to create a new variant of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC). While he returned to check on his experiment, the canister full of CFC gas had vanished leaving behind the residue of white flakes. The mystery substance was subjected to further tests. The revelations showed that it had a high melting point which made Teflon favorable in military applications initially, but now it has better purpose in your kitchen as non-stick cookware.
3. Play-Doh – Kutol Products
Sometimes best things come from oddest of things. One such an example is the Play-Doh. Originally manufactured as a cleaning product – wallpaper remover to be precise the company was already on the verge of bankruptcy and shut down just until another potential was discovered as kids began crafting Christmas ornaments and crafts. Soon recognizing the potential, the cleaning agent in the product was removed and replaced with color and fragrance. Kutol had spawned one of the iconic toys from an entirely different venture. The company that once almost collapsed is now making a fortune.
4. Slinky – Richard James
Slinky is no ordinary toy. In the year 1943, another brilliant mind from the Navy was working on the spring prototypes to prevent the sensitive instruments from being destroyed due to vibration onboard the ship. When he accidentally tipped over one of the prototypes, instead of tumbling on the floor, it sprang gracefully and corrected itself landing back on the initial posture. 300 million Slinkies have been sold globally as goofy childhood toys.
5. Bakelite – Leo Baekeland
Before the modern electronics were insulated using the finest Bakelite plastic, shellac was used as an insulating component in electronics. Since shellac were made from the poop of Asian Beetles, it wasn’t a feasible solution to insulate the innards of telephones and radio. In 1907, the Belgian chemist Leo Baekeland invented the first synthetic plastic (polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride) that was robust against wear and heat. It was moldable into any forms or colors. Today it is a star product used to manufacture jewelry and in industrial designs.
6. X-Rays – Wilhelm Roentgen
In 1895 physicist, Wilhelm Roentgen of Germany had made a remarkable discovery that went on to become the potential diagnosis tool in modern medicine and other industrial purposes. During one of his routine experiments with cathode rays, he noticed a fluorescent cardboard glowing across the room. He then placed a thick screen between the cardboard and cathode emitter. He was amazed how light passed through solid objects and voila! X-rays were invented. His Wife’s hand was one of the first x-ray scans documented.
7. Velcro – George de Mestral
Some inventions are triggered by animals. One such case led to the invention of the much-beloved Velcro. On a hunting trip with his pet, the Swiss engineer George de Mestral found that burrs stuck to his socks and the fur of his pet dog. Out of curiosity he studied the burrs under a microscope; he found several small hooks that caused it to latch onto fabric and fur. After several experimentations, he found a newly fabricated nylon that that was perfect for the invention. The invention wasn’t popularized until the next two decades till NASA adopted the Velcro for several purposes.