10 Accidental Inventions That Changed The World!

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The child within us can never get enough of playing with bubble wrap or making imaginary creatures with play-doh. But did you know that both bubble wrap and play-doh were accidental inventions. They were invented for a very different purpose than what they are used for today! It is believed that necessity is the need for invention, but is not always the case for many discoveries. Do you want to know about some of the accidental inventions that changed the world? If yes, then read on! 

Coca Cola

Year:1886 
Inventor: Dr John Stith Pemberton

Back in the 1880s in Atlanta, Pemberton, a pharmacist, sold ‘Pemberton’s French Wine Coca’ that was a syrup made of wine and cocoa extract. This extract was used to cure headache and nervous illnesses. This syrup soon changed into a deletable soda with a ban on usage of alcohol and thus, the entire drink was prepared using caffeine that later got mixed with carbonated water. This accidental invention sure became the thirst buster in every party! 

Pacemaker

Year: 1950s
Inventor: Wilson Greatbatch 

Wilson Greatbatch was a profound medical researcher that created an oscillator which used to record heart sounds. While improvising the device, he installed the wrong resistor because of which the device began to give the rhythmic electrical pulse. His mistake led to one of the most significant accidental inventions in the medical field. Realising that his creation can be modified to regulate the human heart, he further worked upon it to refine the product. 

Did you know? The world’s first implantable pacemaker was the size of a television set!

Microwave Oven

Year: 1946 
Inventor: Percy Spencer 

Working on a radar-based project, Percy Spencer an engineer at Raytheon Corporation made an accidental invention which is extremely useful. He noticed that while testing a vacuum tube, a bar of chocolate in his pocket melted quite early than usual. Intrigued by this, he experimented more items in that tube such as popcorns and eggs. It was devised by him, later on, that the heat experienced by the food items was from the microwave energy.

Fun Fact – The first microwave weighed 750 pounds (340 Kg)!

Penicillin 

Year: 1928
Inventor: Sir Alexander Fleming 

Marked as a turning point of the medical industry, the discovery of Penicillin is counted amongst the major accidental inventions. Leaving his experiment in the middle, Alexander went on to vacation by putting a petri dish of Staphylococcus bacteria in his sink. Later when he arrived, he was intrigued by observing that bacterias were not growing around a mould. After examining it, it was concluded that the mould was a scene of Penicillium notatum that inhibits the growth of bacteria. 

Quick Fact -The discovery of Penicillin ignited the era of antibiotics!

Match Sticks 

Year: 1826
Inventor: John Walker 

A renowned chemist of the 19th Century, John Walker, was stirring a mixture with a stick and noticed that some part of the liquid got stuck on the end of the stick. When he was scrapping that off near his hearth, he was astonished to see that it immediately caught fire. This gesture led to the accidental invention of match sticks. The matchsticks were earlier made of cardboard but eventually, wood was used to make them. 

Did you know? Walker made his match stick and named them ‘Friction Lights’!

X Rays

Year: 1895
Inventor: Wilhelm Roentgen 

Experimenting with cathode-ray tubes, Roentgen discovered that, even if the rod was covered, the nearby screen would glow when the room was dark and the tube was on. As the rays were illuminating the screen hit right to block them through various objects. After failing in blocking the rays by multiple objects he placed his hand in front of the tube and noticed that he could see his bones on the screen. Out of all the accidental inventions,  this one is now prominently used in medical practices. 

Fun Fact – Roentgen used a photographic plate to capture the image of his x-ray!

Safety Glass

Year: 1903
Inventor: Edward Benedictus 

The sudden falling of a glass flask and not breaking into countless pieces, thrilled Benedictus while working in his lab. He was absolutely intrigued since the glass did not break and only had a crack with all its shape being intact. Not only did it lead him to this accidental invention, it intrigued him as well. He examined that flask and discovered, that it was the coating of cellulose nitrate, because of which the glass didn’t break into pieces. Ultimately, this became the root cause of the creation of safety glasses that are used widely across the globe.

Play Doh

Year: 1930s
Inventor: Noah McVicker

Making our favourite superhero with clay still is a pleasant memory for all of us! The clay that we used to play with, was invented in a factory as a wallpaper cleaner. Back in the 1930s, the walls of houses were covered with soot to keep them warm during winters. The soot was removed using invented clay. After the normalization of Vinyl wallpaper, clay lost its purpose. But the suggestion of nursery school teacher Kay Zufall that kids could make decoration pieces and toys from this clay, helped McVickers stay in the business. This suggestion gave birth to the accidental invention of play doh.  Later on, they added colour to the clay and it was widely used as a toy.

After this transformation, the ‘Kutols Rainbow Modelling Compound’ was renamed as Play-Doh!

Artificial Sweetener 

Year: 1878
Inventor: Constantin Fahlberg 

When the popular Russian chemist, Constantin Fahlberg, was working in the lab with his colleague,  he accidentally tasted some chemicals that were present in the lab and noticed that they were sweet in taste. He concluded that the sugariness was because of a reaction between o-sulfobenzoic acid with phosphorus (V) chloride along with ammonia that formulated Saccharin. This accidental tasting led to the rather amusing accidental invention of artificial sweetener!

The scientific name of Saccharin is Benzoic Sulfinide!

Bubble Wrap 

Year: 1960 
Inventor: Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes 

Bubble wrap was initially invented as wallpaper and not as a packaging material. However, after some time,  bubble wraps failed as a wallpaper. Then, the inventors decided to restructure their product and utilise it as greenhouse insulation. But later in the year 1960,  bubble wraps were commonly used as protective packaging materials. 

Must Read: Famous Inventions and Inventors

We hope that this blog helped you become aware of some unique accidental inventions which are now a crucial part of our lives. You can get in touch with our Leverage Edu experts to gain clear insights on how you can achieve your career goals. Sign up for a free session with us today! Stay tuned with us to know more about your dream career. 

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