10 Famous Inventions That Did Not Make Their Inventors Wealthy


Many inventions brought their creators fame and fortune, simple ideas that changed lives of both the users and inventors. But there are some inventions that did not give much of an advantage to the minds they came from. Here are 10 common inventions that we all know about but didn’t bring success to their inventors.

1. World-Wide Web

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No one would be able to read this article without Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the web. He originally created the system as a means for scientists at the European lab at CERN to share data, but the rapid success of this creation was the reason it was made available worldwide. Not all inventors want to make money; some just want to contribute to the betterment of the world.

2. Wind-Up Radio

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Trevor Baylis can no longer afford to live in his London home even though his creation has made millions of sales around the world. The company that he made the wind-up radio for modified his design slightly and the inventor no longer had any control over the sales or profit. “Most of us don’t do it for the money but for the buzz,” says Baylis.

3. LEDs

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The first practically working LED was invented by Nick Holonyak Jr in 1962, who said that the invention would replace Edison’s lightbulb in the future. His colleagues said that he deserved the Nobel Prize for his invention but Holonyak simply said, “It’s ridiculous to think that somebody owes you something. We’re lucky to be alive, when it comes down to it.”

4. Sapphire Stylus


Marie Killick invented a sapphire stylus for the record player, but since she did not license her creation, she did not make any money despite years of litigation. She won a case againe Pye in 1958 but went bankrupt in the following year.

5. Post-It Notes

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This invention is used in bulk quantities around the world. The inventors, however, describe that they are “comfortably” not wealthy. The Post-It Note was created by Dr Spencer Silver, who developed a relatively weak adhesive in 1968, and his colleague Art Fry, who discovered that he could use the adhesive to keep his bookmarks in place in his hymn book.

6. Karaoke Machines

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Daisuke Inoue played drums for a backup band that let bar goers come up on stage and sing. When he could not make it to the gig one time, he put the backing music on tape. Later he made 11 Karaoke (empty orchestra) machines that he leased out, but he did not patent his invention and barely earned a yen.

7. Hovercraft

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Sir Christopher Cockerell used a vacuum cleaner and tin cans to test out his design for the hovercraft. The final product made its first crossing from Calais to Dover in 1959. Cockerell was knighted for his creation but had to fight the National Research Development Corporation for years to get a lump sum.

8. Tetris

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Russian computer programmer Alexey Pajitnov developed Tetris with colleagues at a Russian government-funded research centre in 1985. He only started getting royalties for the game 10 years after creating the game, when he formed The Tetris Company.

9. MP3

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German PhD student Karlheinz Brandenburg developed the project in the early 1980’s to transfer music across the internet. It quickly became the standard, but since there was no money to distribute the software, it was marketed as a shareware.

10. AK-47

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The world’s most well-recognized machine gun, the Kalashnikov rifle was invented by Soviet army soldier, Mikhail Kalashnikov. He created the rifle while recovering from injuries sustained in World War II. Kalashnikov later claimed that the rifle was created for the benefit of his country and he didn’t make any direct profit out of the sales of Ak-47


1 Comment

  1. oolay Reply

    Its a shame you missed off Sir Frank Whittle and the Jet Engine one of the most important inventions of our time, I would say its more important than Tetris and Karaoke machine.

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