At some point during the development of your new product, when the initial excitement of invention or innovation dies down, you might reflect a bit and think that what you’ve come up with is too small or insignificant to make an impact on the marketplace or on the world in general.
But that’s a dangerous way of thinking, not only because it might stop your product before it’s even launched, but because you can never assume that a new invention won’t have an effect on the world, no matter how small it might seem. To prove our point, here are five simple inventions that changed the world.
It’s not like there wasn’t already tape in the world before this ultra-durable, ultra-adhesive material was invented during WWII, but very few other kinds held on as tightly for as long as duct tape. It was initially created by researchers at Johnson & Johnson to help the military protect their ammunition cases from harsh conditions on the front lines.
After the soldiers came home, many of them got jobs in construction, and they recommended some rolls of their hard-working tape to heating and air-conditioning contractors to hold ventilation ducts together. Add a quick color-change to silver to match the typical duct color, and you’ve got an item that’s probably in your toolbox or under your sink right now.
The Potato Chip
Here’s an interesting one. Back In 1853 a chef in New York named George Crum found himself faced with an irritated customer in his restaurant who repeatedly sent his French-fried potatoes back to the kitchen because he felt they were too soggy. In an effort to show up the implacable diner, Crum sliced the potatoes into ultra-thin pieces, threw them into the deep fryer and smothered them in salt. The customer loved them, and one of the most popular snacks in America was born.
It’s kind of amazing to think about how vital this small, spiked piece of metal has become over the centuries. It’s also mind-boggling to think about how structures were made before nails were created around 3400 BC.They were constructed by interlocking boards together in geometric patterns. But the advent of casting and shaping metal quickly led to the development of hand-made bronze nails, and by 1913, the vast majority of them were being made out of metal. Many buildings and sore thumbs later, they are part of the foundation of virtually every modern structure in the world.
This is another one of those great indispensable modern inventions that, like the potato chip, was made by accident. Back in 1968 a chemist named Spencer Silver who was working for 3M at the time discovered a low-grade adhesive that was perfect for holding something slight, like a piece of paper, to a surface, but weak enough that attempting to remove it from the surface would not tear or break it. Not that it’s marketability was clear right away. That took one of Silver’s co-workers, Art Fry, who figured out one day that it made a pretty good bookmark.
Back in the late 1800s, a man named Samuel Fay was looking for a way to attach claim tickets to fabric. He obviously couldn’t use pins because they’d pierce the fabric. So in a moment of inspiration, he spotted a piece of wire nearby that bent it into the shape of an X and slid the ticket (and the fabric) right into the middle. Voila, the earliest version of the invention that you’ve probably got dozens, if not hundreds of, in your desk right now.
Feel better about your idea, design, or innovation now? We hope so. And if you need help along the way with engineering, development and manufacturing your new potentially world-changing new product, remember that Pivot International can provide assistance in any of those areas. Click here to find out more; you could be sitting on the new paperclip or potato chip!