news | World

10 Things Invented By Accident That Went On To Change The World

Mark Twain once wrote in his notebook that the greatest inventor of all time was named "accidents," and there are lots of examples that prove him right.

A Slinky proves that a change of perspective can make you an instant success.Caravan to Midnight

It seems that while working on one problem inventors manage to solve another, or something in their daily lives inspires them to create something the world has never seen before.

Popsicles seem like an inspired idea, but they were created by mistake.The First Year Blog

See how many of these 10 inspired accidents you still use on a daily basis:

1. Popsicles

In 1905, an 11-year-old boy from Oakland, California named Frank Epperson left a glass of sugar water on his porch overnight. The next morning, his stirring stick let him lick the frozen treat while keeping his hands clean.

Epperson managed to patent his invention as "frozen ice on a stick," and originally called it an Epsicle (thank goodness that name didn't stick).

2. Microwave ovens

Spencer and an early microwave oven.Janet Higgs

An engineer named Percy Spencer was designing radar systems for Raytheon when he discovered that his radar system would melt the candy bar in his pocket while he stood in front of it.

The original Radarange microwave.Best Microwaves & Guides

He did further tests - including making the world's first serving of microwaved popcorn - before helping Raytheon introduce the first microwave oven. That first oven, called the Radarange, weighed 750lbs and was over 5 feet tall, so it's not surprising that microwaves only became popular after shrinking to fit on a kitchen counter.

3. The pacemaker

Inventor Wilson Greatbatch poses with his design.AP

While pacemakers have been around since the 1920s, early models were the size of a TV set and weren't very easy to get around with. A scientist named Wilson Greatbatch changed everything by designing a pacemaker that fit inside the human body.

Greatbatch introduced the modern design and also the long-lasting batteries that power a pacemaker.News OK

He was really trying to build a machine to listen to the heart, but when he put the wrong part inside his device sent an electric shock at the same rhythm as a heart. It was a "eureka" moment that has saved millions of lives ever since.

What else was invented by accident? You'd be surprised.

4. Super Glue

If it wasn't for Super Glue, our world would fall apart!How to Clean Stuff

When Harry Coover stumbled upon this wickedly sticky adhesive while making plastic gun sights, he had no idea what he had stumbled upon. He actually rejected using it as a glue, since it was too sticky.

Coover also helped pioneer the idea of a "research and development" department while working for Kodak.Mandel Ngan / AFP

Years later he realized the error of his ways, selling every handyman's favorite glue and earning the National Medal of Technology and Innovation for his work.

5. The Slinky

Everyone loves a slinky, but who comes up with such a deceptively simple toy? Richard James, a U.S. Navy engineer. James was working on a power meter for a battleship when he dropped a tension spring.

James poses with his creation.PDX Retro

The way the spring bounced caught his eye, and all it took was some clever marketing to turn Slinky into the hit toy of the 1940s.

6. Nike shoes

Track coach Bill Bowerman and his former student Phil Knight were still calling their company "Blue Ribbon Shoes" when Bowerman accidentally created the innovation that would make their company a global success.

Bowerman building a new shoe.The Famous people

Bowerman was obsessed with using household objects to help design his shoes, and one strange experiment with his wife's waffle maker started a shoe revolution. Urethane cleats made in the waffle mold worked well on all kinds of surface, and felt comfortable even after long runs.

The original waffle maker was thrown in the trash, since Bowerman forgot to use non-stick spray in his first batch, but it was eventually recovered and is now proudly displayed at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.

7. Penicillin

Sir Alexander in his laboratory.Wikimedia

Odds are you've probably taken this life-saving antibiotic at least once, but if it wasn't for a freak accident it would have never been discovered. Its creator, Sir Alexander Fleming, was trying to make a "wonder drug" that could cure any disease.

4 out of 5 Americans are prescribed Antibiotics each year.Healthline

After throwing out all his failed experiments, Fleming noticed that one dish in the junk pile was covered in mold that would eat bacteria. A few experiments later, he had invented penicillin.

How are Silly Putty and World War 2 connected? You may be surprised...

8. Silly Putty

Rubber was rationed during World War 2, so lots of inventors worked to create substitutes that could make essential goods like airplane tires. While a pair of inventors feud over who invented Silly Putty first, they both claim to have stumbled onto it while combining acid and silicone.

Today, more than 6 million eggs filled with this magically stretchy material sell around the world each year.

9. Post-It Notes

Spencer Silver, a chemist for the company 3M, was sitting on a million-dollar idea without realizing it. Silver came up with what he called a "low-tack" adhesive, which would stick to paper and but not tear when you pulled it off.

Today, Post-It Notes are a global success.Scott Berkun

The problem was nobody had any idea how to market his invention, until a coworker named Art Fry suggested using it as a bookmark. Now we recognize the millions of everyday uses these sticky notes are perfect for.

Art Fry poses with the invention he helped to popularize.Wikimedia

10. X-Rays

William Röntgen was experimenting with radio tubes when he discovered that even after covering the tube with cardboard it would project a faint green light that passed through books and papers on his desk.

Rontgen's first X-Ray of his wife (the bulge is her wedding ring).Wikimedia

After some more experiments, Röntgen tested his invention on his wife's hand, taking the first medical X-ray (or Röntgen ray, as they're sometimes called). When she saw the X-ray of her hand, Röntgen's wife said "I have seen my death!"

Share this list if you learned something new!