Magic of Innovation: 40 Surprising Stories Behind Everyday Inventions 2

26Fuel Container Innovation

Fuel Container Innovation

The modern gas container, known as the jerry can, was invented in 1937 in Germany. At the start of World War 2, the UK used leaky and flimsy tin containers called "flimsies," but they soon captured jerry cans, and the Allies started copying the German design.

27. Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989. He was frustrated with the need to personally ask his coworkers about the data on their computers, which led him to create an application that eventually became the World Wide Web.

28. Aspirin and heroin were both invented within a two-week period by the same man, Felix Hoffmann, a German chemist who worked for Bayer under Adolf von Baeyer in the late 1880s.

29. Plastic injection molding was invented in the 1800s to manufacture billiard balls out of celluloid, primarily to replace ivory and save the lives of African elephants.

30. The Red Bull energy drink was originally invented by a duck farmer from Thailand as a hangover cure (called Krathing Daeng in Thai) before being acquired by Austrian businessman Dietrich Mateschitz, who discovered it on a business trip in 1987.

31Movie Captioning Pioneer

Movie Captioning Pioneer

Emerson Romero was a deaf silent film actor. When movies with sound were invented, deaf actors received fewer roles, and intertitle text was removed. This led him to develop an early form of movie captioning in 1947 to make movies accessible to deaf people.

32. The modern face-up technique in the high jump was invented by an American named Dick Fosbury and debuted at the 1968 Olympics. Reporters mocked him, saying he looked like a "two-legged camel," but he won the gold. It is now known as the "Fosbury Flop" and has become the dominant style in the sport.

33. In 1929, determined to prove his hypothesis, Werner Forssmann tricked a nurse, inserted a catheter through his own arm, and walked to an x-ray lab to photograph his discovery, thereby inventing cardiac catheterization. He later won a Nobel Prize for his pioneering work.

34. Charles Strite invented the pop-up toaster (and nothing else) out of frustration. At the time, bread had to be manually turned to toast both sides, resulting in cafeterias serving burnt toast most of the time.

35. Kodak invented the digital camera in 1975 but hid the invention because they feared it would jeopardize photographic film sales.

36India Pale Ale Origins

India Pale Ale Origins

IPA (India pale ale) was originally a British beer brewed for export to India, specially formulated to survive the long sea voyage.

37. E-cigarettes were first invented in the 1960s but were never sold in order to protect the traditional cigarette market.

38. Ben Franklin's invention of the lightning rod was blamed by church leaders for the 1755 Cape Ann earthquake off the coast of Colonial Massachusetts. They believed his "heretical rods" interfered with the "artillery of heaven" and deprived God of using lightning as "tokens of His displeasure."

39. Gatorade was invented by the University of Florida and is named after the Florida Gators. In 1965, when Gatorade was invented at the University of Florida, their football coach wouldn't let researchers experiment on the varsity team and only allowed testing on freshmen (who couldn't play varsity by NCAA rule). Those players described it as tasting like urine or toilet bowl cleaner.

40. Pop Rocks, Tang, and Cool Whip were all invented by one person, Dr. William A. Mitchell.