10 Inventors Who Came to Regret Their Creations

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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10 Inventors Who Came to Regret Their Creations

10 Inventors Who Came to Regret Their Creations


Key Ideas

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.


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?"

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.

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.

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."

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."

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.

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."

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."

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."



Close contact

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the new virus can spread between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet).

We can protect ourselv...

Ineffective methods

Travel bans are proving to be too late. Since the virus can incubate for 14 days, carriers can spread it before they even know they have it.
Protective gear such as masks only works if they are used correctly.
It doesn't help to cover our hands if those hands are still touching infected surfaces before touching our eyes, nose, or mouth.

Preventing “community spread”

In 1918, health officials from Philadelphia ignored calls for social distancing and allowed a World War I victory parade to proceed. Within three days, people were sick. Within six weeks, 12,000 were dead.

The 1918 influenza had a fatality rate of about 2,5 percent, compared to the 3,4 percent of the new virus. The best way to prevent the virus from spreading is to keep people apart.

The Birth Of The Credit Card
The Birth Of The Credit Card
  • The concept of a multiple-establishment credit card came in the mind of Frank X. McNamara in 1949, when he had forgotten his wallet and was unable to pay for his dinner at a fancy restaurant...
Convenience In The Pocket

The initial card offered by Diners Club didn’t involve revolving credit, and the dues were to be paid off in full by the end of the month. The credit cards that we see now came much later.

Initially targeted at salespeople, the company started charging a $3 annual fee and also charged the establishments 7 per cent for each transaction. The paper-based cards showed tremendous growth in a year, with 20,000 people using it.

Status Symbol

Eventually, the Diners Card became a status symbol and more and more establishments began to trust it. The company printed a list of participating merchants for the help of the members.

Innovative ideas, like associate cards for married women who wanted to shop in the afternoon using their husbands money became popular.

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Making A Crisis Out Of Everything
Making A Crisis Out Of Everything

Our diminishing resilience and decreasing psychological threshold of handling pain and struggle is, in turn, making everything look like a crisis.

We are making a catastrophe out of eve...

Psychological Resilience

Psychological resilience is not about fake positivity and takes its power from our negative feelings. It makes our anger, sadness, failure and self-loathing into something useful and productive.

When we become sufficiently resilient, we are unstoppable and limitless.

Care For Someone Else

Our focus on the self has made us fearful and overwhelmed, especially in times of crisis. Part of our anxiety is the constant focus on oneself. Even if we do focus on others, it is only to judge them about how they feel about us, and what they think about us.

If instead of our inner selfishness, we find a greater cause to endure the crisis or risk, some deeper purpose or mission that eclipses our ego, then the crisis is taken care of.

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