A list of the top accidental inventions discovered that changed the world. These amazing products were accidents by medical scientists such as the slinky, LSD, viagra, fireworks, matches, Teflon, saccharin, penicillin, the microwave, the pacemaker, the silly putty, vulcanized rubber and potato chips! What would we do without them!
Everyone I know had a slinky growing up and it’s all thanks to Richard James who was working with tension springs to design a meter to monitor power on naval battleships. One of them fell to the ground and he watched in amusement as the spring kept bouncing from place to place, and the slinky was born. So simple it was genius!! James made over a billion dollars in revenue. But, while the Slinky was making him millions, he was secretly giving away most of his fortune to ultra-dogmatic, evangelical religious groups even though he had a wife and 6 children to support! If you bought a Slinky pre-1960, this is where your money went. Then, in February 1960, he made an unexpected and dramatic exit. With little explanation, he bought a one-way ticket to rural Bolivia, leaving his wife and children behind and joined an evangelical Christian cult somewhere in the jungle. Before leaving he told his wife she could either liquidate the company or assume sole ownership, which she did. In its 70 years on the market, the slinky has sold more than 300 million units.
It was 1853, eight years before the beginning of the Civil War and Chef George Crum had made a plate of fried potatoes for a customer. The customer kept sending them back over and over asking for them to be crispier and thinner. Finally, Crum lost his temper, and sliced the potatoes insanely thin and fried them until they were hard as a rock and poured salt on them. Ha, that’ll show him!! To the chef’s surprise, the customer loved them and wanted more! They then became known as the Saratoga chip.
Albert Hofmann, a Swiss chemist was researching lysergic acid derivatives in the Sandoz pharmaceutical research laboratory. He had synthesized LSD for his project involving a parasitic fungus called ergot. He had developed several medicines including drugs that lowered blood pressure and improved brain function in the elderly. He accidentally, yeah …” accidentally” swallowed a small amount of LSD-25 while researching its properties and went on the first trip in history. He says he was suddenly disturbed by unusual sensations and hallucinations. He recorded his experience as not unpleasant with visions of fantastic pictures, and extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. I don’t even know how he was able to write in his notebook! After intentionally taking the drug again to confirm that it had caused this strange physical and mental state, Dr. Hoffman published a report announcing his discovery. Well, he is a professional after all and you do have to test your hypothesis more than once… and so LSD made its entry into the world as a hallucinogenic drug.
In 1827, English pharmacist John Walker was stirring a pot of chemicals that included antimony sulfide and potassium chlorate, when he noticed this dried lump at the end of his mixing stick. He tried to scratch it off, but it burst into flames! The world now had its first strike-able match.
In the early 1990s, Pfizer was testing out a drug called UK92480, intended to treat patients with angina pectoris, a common precursor to heart attacks. The company was hoping the drug would relax the blood vessels. The bill failed its primary purpose, but the secondary side effect was startling and test subjects reported some fascinating developments below the belt. The drug became known as Viagra, and…. you know what it does. And actually, a side effect of Viagra is…wait for it—heart attacks. Pfizer sold $288 million worth of the little blue pill in the first quarter of 2013.
In 1938, Roy Plunkett, a scientist with DuPont, was working on ways to make refrigerators more home-friendly by searching for ways to replace the current refrigerant, which was primarily ammonia, sulfur dioxide, and propane. Definitely not home friendly. It sounds like something the cook from #4 would use.
After opening the container on one particular sample he’d been developing, Plunkett found his experimental gas was gone. All that was left was a strange, waxy white powder. He continued to experiment with the residue and found that it was extremely slippery (one of the slipperiest substances known to man), non-corrosive, chemically stable and that it had an extremely high melting point.