It has been often said that necessity is the mother of invention. While large corporations are often in tune with the needs of their consumers, few people could actually be as in touch with the public as someone from the public. The layman has been a vital source of invention. Garage tinkerers or at-home inventors have created more than just eccentric personal projects like robots and insane artistic endeavors. They’ve also created some of the most important inventions in the world. Here are four of the most popular creations that originated from someone’s personal home.
The cat door is one of those simple items that we can’t imagine doing without. It’s a necessity for those with pets. Sometimes, people are simply too busy with their own endeavors to cater to the needs of their favorite feline. This was the issue with the creator of the cat door. He was simply too busy articulating the natural laws of the universe and independently creating calculus. The inventor of the cat door was none other than Isaac Newton. Legend goes that he was in the midst of an experiment when his cat’s pestering continued to interrupt him. In a moment of clarity, he simply created a way for his cat to come in the door whenever it pleased. It’s an inauspicious home creation from one of history’s foremost geniuses.
If anyone embodied the idea of the home-tinkerer, it was Nikola Tesla. Tesla has become a cult hero of sorts, appearing in comics such as the Oatmeal and starring in an episode of the video series “Epic Rap Battles of History.” The man’s genius was simply incalculable. He designed a number of different ideas in his head and constructed them from memory. He could memorize entire books. His plan was to give humanity free wireless energy. A company called TeslaTronix has recently resurrected Nikola’s dream. Using one of the simplest Tesla coils, the company has made wireless power again a feasible reality.
The military has created some of the most technologically advanced devices in history. Richard T. James, a naval engineer, developed one of the least. He and his wife created the slinky after he attempted to fix a system at work and watched a rogue spring bounce down a few stacks of books onto the floor. He remarked that he might be able to make it “walk.” Working at home with his wife, he eventually discovered the right combination to make it move. Within two years of sales and development, a toy icon was born.
Home can sometimes be a less-than-auspicious place depending on our life choices. Sometimes that translates into prison, which is exactly where the toothbrush got its start.
William Addis was sentenced to prison in England in the 18th century. Personal hygiene was a challenge, even under ideal conditions. This was also true for dental hygiene. At that time, the common practice of the day was to use an old rag and rub salt or chalk against the teeth. One day, Addis had an epiphany and decided that he didn’t really feel like continuing a flawed tradition. He took a meat bone from his dinner and bought some hard bristles from one of the guards. He attached them together and essentially created the most important health item to date.