While not necessarily rockstars, inventors get famous if one of their inventions benefit a lot of people. In most cases, they get famous posthumously but still – they and their most famous inventions attain a sort of immortality through history. However, there are cases where useful inventions are forgotten despite coming from famous inventors, such as the following
1. Da Vinci’s Giant Crossbow
Leonardo Da Vinci is sort of an outlier here. He’s very famous for inventing a lot of things even though they didn’t really get made into actual stuff. Most of them never went past the conceptual stage. Still, people forget about one of the coolest things he conceptualized: an 81 ft crossbow that is used more for psychological warfare than actual warfare. Discovery channel managed to build it in 2010, proving that ol’ Leo was right on target.
2. Alexander Graham Bell’s Metal Detector
Bell is most famous for inventing the telephone (making him one of the people responsible for the Internet), but few people remember that he also made one of the very first metal detectors. The metal detector was noteworthy because Bell made it to save the life of President James Garfield, who had a bullet embedded in his body as a result of an assassination attempt. Unfortunately, the invention was thought to be a failure because it was so sensitive, it detected even the metal coils in the President’s mattress.
3. James Watts’ Portable Copier
James Watts is known by many for his part in the invention of the steam engine, but he also invented a LOT of things. This includes a small portable device that could copy documents by pressing them onto a thin strip of paper, creating a reversed copy from the back, working under the principle that modern copiers still use to this day. It sold 600 units, which was a massive success at the time.
4. Thomas Edison’s Talking Doll
Thanks to people paying closer attention to Nicola Tesla’s accomplishments, most people these days recognize Thomas Edison as a better (and cutthroat) businessman than he was an inventor. But the man did invent a bunch of really useful stuff like the light bulb, the phonograph, and moving pictures. However, he also invented one of the first ever examples of a talking doll. His talking doll is basically a spin off of his earlier invention, as he just shoved a phonograph inside a doll.
5. Benjamin Franklin’s Swim Fins
Most people these days know Benjamin Franklin as one of the founding fathers of the United States and for the lightning rod. However, Franklin was a prolific inventor who was inventing things even at a young age. In fact, he invented a set of swim fins at the tender age of 11. What makes it different compared to modern ones? It was made of wood, and it was worn on the hands.