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10 Inventors Who Came to Regret Their Creations

https://www.mentalfloss.com/uk/history/27802/10-inventors-who-came-to-regret-their-creations

mentalfloss.com

10 Inventors Who Came to Regret Their Creations
Just because someone's invented something, it doesn't mean that they're happy with the end result. 1. J. Robert Oppenheimer - The atomic bomb. It's J. Robert Oppenheimer who, as director of the Los Alamos Laboratory during World War II, is credited with the creation of the atomic bomb.

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The atomic bomb

The atomic bomb
  • J. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Los Alamos Laboratory during World War II, is credited with the creation of the atomic bomb. Oppenheimer does not regret playing a part in the war effort, but he feels that the way the atomic bomb was used wasn't right. Japan could have been warned about what the bomb meant.
  • Albert Einstein, who made the bomb possible, believed Germany was attempting to create an atomic bomb to use against the allies in World War II. He later regretted it. He said had he known that the Germans would not succeed in producing an atomic bomb, he would not have proceeded.

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AK-47

Mikhail Kalashnikov designed the rifle for the Russian army. It was a simple and cheap automatic rifle that caused more deaths than any other assault rifle.

Kalashnikov later wrote in a letter to the head of the Russian Orthodox church, "If my rifle claimed people's lives, can it be that I…, an Orthodox believer, am to blame for their deaths, even if they are my enemies?"

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The double slash

The double slash

Tim Berners Lee developed HTML and created the World Wide Web, but his major regret relates to the '//' at the beginning of every web address.

"Really, if you think about it, it doesn't need the //. I could have designed it not to have the //," he said.

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The pop-up advert

The pop-up advert

Working as an employee of web host Tripod, Ethan Zuckerman wrote the code to launch the pesky pop-up add.

In an essay entitled "The Internet's Original Sin," he took full responsibility for the hated tool. He later explained that he was sorry. Their intentions were good.

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Flappy Bird

Flappy Bird

Flappy Bird was a crude and simple game that proved to be hugely addictive. After 50 million downloads and advertising revenue of around $45,000 a day, creator Dong Nguyen had enough and withdrew it from the app stores.

The game attracted the press and Nguyen was besieged with calls, tweets, and emails. He tweeted, "I cannot take this anymore."

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The office cubicle

The office cubicle

Bob Propst introduced America to the open-plan office along with the office cubicle.

Companies saw his invention as a way to save money. Propst came to regret his creation, saying cubiclizing people in modern corporations is "monolithic insanity."

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Comic Sans

Comic Sans

Vincent Connare, the designer of the font Comic Sans, said, "If you love it, you don't know much about typography. If you hate it, you really don't know much about typography, either, and you should get another hobby."

Connare's point is that Comic Sans is overused and misused. It was designed for a Microsoft application aimed at children to replace Times New Roman in speech bubbles.

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Raleigh Chopper

Raleigh Chopper

Tom Karen designed the Raleigh's Chopper, one of Raleigh's best-selling bikes in the 1970s. It was loved for its comfortable saddle, laid-back seating, and Harley Davidson-Esque handlebars.

However, Tom Karen describes it as "terribly heavy so you wouldn't want to ride it very far."

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Pepper spray

Pepper spray

Kamran Loghman worked for the FBI and helped turn pepper spray into weapons grade material. He also wrote a user guide for police departments.

In 2011, police sprayed pepper spray on docile protestors. Longman's reaction was, "I have never seen such an inappropriate and improper use of chemical agents."

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Coffee capsules

Coffee capsules

John Sylvan's invention of coffee pouches gave rise to systems like Nespresso and Tassimo and make it very easy to grab a caffeine fix.

"I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it," he said a few years ago. "It's ... a single-serve delivery mechanism for an addictive substance."

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Original and productive thought

  • During the 19th and 20th centuries, categories such as original and productive thought were reworked as mundane, manifestations of ordinary abilities, as competences that do not belong to an endowed individual.
  • French biologist Louis Pasteur said in 1854 on originality as a special gift: 'Fortune favours the prepared mind.'
  • In 1903, American inventor Thomas Edison said of genius that it is '1 per cent inspiration, 99 per cent perspiration'.
  • Albert Einstein thought it intellectually and morally wrong to attribute gifts to people like him. 'It strikes me as unfair, and even in bad taste, to select a few for boundless admiration, attributing superhuman powers of mind and character to them.'

Original work in the world of commerce

In the early 20th century, original work entered the world of commerce. Chemical, pharmaceutical and electrical companies hired large numbers of academically trained scientists, believing that innovation was vital to commercial success and that science belonged in commercial organisations.

Companies such as General Electric and Eastman Kodak didn't think creative and productive work had anything to do with hiring awkward geniuses but with finding the organisational forms that allowed ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things.

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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Social connection makes hope possible. This is the message in the film based on the life of 13-year-old William Kamkwamba. The story plays off in Malawi during a famine caused by a series of natural disasters.

William's family cannot afford for him to continue with school, and William is forbidden to return. But William sneaks back into school and gets permission to continue using the school's library. He develops strong ties with his science teacher, librarian, family, friends, and fellow villagers.

He ultimately discovers how wind energy can bring water to his village and save them from perishing.

The Farewell

The Farewell is about a first-generation Chinese immigrant, Billi. She wants to visit her dying grandmother, Nai-Nai, in China, to say goodbye.

Nai-Nai is unaware of the seriousness of her illness while the family believes it is kinder to keep her illness a secret and make her happy. Conflict ensues as Billi wants to tell Nai-Nai the truth. This is a tale of how people express love differently and the quiet wisdom and positive outlook of Nai-Nai.

Two of the biggest innovations

Two of the biggest innovations

Two of the biggest innovations of modern times are cars and airplanes. At first, every new invention looks like a toy. It takes decades for people to realise the potential of it.

Innovation is driven by incentives

There are three types of incentives:

  1. "If I don't figure this out, I might get fired." It will get you moving.
  2. "If I figure this out, I might help people and make a lot of money." It will produce creativity.
  3. "If we don't figure this out now, our very existence is threatened." Militaries deal with this, and it will fuel the most incredible problem-solving and innovation in a short time.

During World War II, there was a burst of scientific progress that took place. The government was in effect saying that if a discovery had any possible war value, then it had to be developed and put in use, regardless of the expense.

The conditions for big innovations to happen

The biggest innovations seldom happen when everyone's happy or safe. They happen when people are a little panicked and worried, and when they have to act quickly.

In 1932, the stock market fell by 89%. It was an economic disaster where almost a quarter of Americans were out of work. However, the 1930s was also the most productive and technologically progressive decade in history. Economist Alex Field writes that in 1941, the U.S. economy produced almost 40 percent more output than it had in 1929, with little increase in labor hours or private-sector capital input.