10 Great Inventions Whose Creators Did Not Make Any Money Off Of Them

Inventors (2)

Coming up with a genius invention could turn a person’s life around, bringing lots of popularity from today’s connected world and not to forget, a hell lot of money too. However, not every genius is that fortunate. While some may have made millions of dollars on something as simple as a bendable straw, some others did not make a penny off of the genius inventions like the internet. A lot of people leave a mark on our lives, but unfortunately, that mark does not come with a name at times, and for some, with no money either. Such was the case with the fidget spinners which have become a global craze, but the inventor is struggling to keep her life in place.

We have picked the top 10 of the genius inventors who have changed our lives for the better, but their ideas did not change their lives by much, at least not financially.

1. Sir Tim Berners-Lee

The top of the list is definitely Sir Tim Berners-Lee who is the mind behind the complete transformation of human life. The CERN scientist invented the World Wide Web and made the first ever website in 1991, and that went on to become the internet that we all have our lives dependent upon. The genius decided that his invention should be freely available, so it brought him no royalties. The world is thankful to him, nonetheless.

Simple Wikipedia

2. Ron Klein

The inventor of the magnetic credit card strip Ron Klein calls himself “Grandfather of Possibilities”. The serial inventor made a lot of cash from his various projects, but none from credit card strip which he invented in 1968. The idea has since enabled companies all over the world to make billions of dollars.

Huffington Post

3. Mikhail Kalashnikov

The famous AK-47 that we so commonly call Kalashnikov has a Russian General behind it. Mikhail Kalashnikov invented the AK-47 in 1947, and ever since, a 100 million more of the rifles have been manufactured. The design was patented by the official manufacturer of the weapon in the 90s, but the inventor said he created it for the good of his country.

The New York Times

4. Sir Christopher Cockerell

The hovercraft was the creation of Sir Christopher Cockerell, who received the knighthood for his various inventions. He tested the idea of his hovercraft using a vacuum cleaner and two tin cans. To make his work a success, he even had to sell some his possessions. National Research Development Corporation helped put the hovercraft into production, but Sir Christopher had to struggle for years to get some cash from the corporation.

Sir Christopher Cockerell testing his hovercraft design; The first production hovercraft in the world, the SRN5.
Source: Griffon Hoverwork

5. John Walker

John Walker invented the matches in the 1820s. While his invention brought every human one of the most basic necessities, the chemist did not patent his invention so it could be made available for everyone.

Match World

6. Douglas Engelbart

A computer mouse is something we have all gotten our hands at. The idea came from Douglas Engelbart in 1968, but his patent expired in 1987. The mouse became widely used later, and companies sold more than one billion of these all over the world. While the inventor died in July 2013, he made no profit from it.

Digital Trends

7. Laszlo Biro

Leaky Fountain pens are a disaster, and Laszlo Biro created the first ballpoint pen and got it patented in 1938. Biro sold his patent to Marcel Bich whose company has made billions as the Pens continue to sell in great numbers all over the world.

Gentleman’s Gazette

8. Daisuke Inoue

Tha karaoke machine is a gift of a Japanese businessman Daisuke Inoue who never patented his design. Lots of people have made millions from performances that the machine brought to life.

The Appendix

9. Alexey Pajitnov

Tetris has to be the love of every millennial who did not grow up in the middle of technology. The early computer game was the brainchild of Alexy Pajintov who was a Russian programmer. He was working at the USSR’s Academy of Science when he created the game in 1984. The rights of the game were owned by the Soviet government, so he gained no royalties from it, at least for the next ten years.


10. Harvey Ball

Imagine how rough text conversations would be if it weren’t for the smiley icons. The inventor of the smiley was Harvey Ball, who designed it for the purpose of boosting the morale of employees at an insurance company in 1963. The symbol has become so popular since, and essentially forms the base of all text communication today, whether SMS, emails, or tweets. He never copyrighted the emoticon, and all he got for his design was $45.


Have you heard of another such inventor? Let us know in the comments!

1 Comment

  1. max Davies. Reply

    Invented of the tweel dynamic rubber quad copters & the quantum logic chip. Have been robbed by the government of all my work for 25 years edward snowden. + 40 odd million/billion dollar works.
    Was split from my gal degamed shot at raped tortured & jailed on bogus syc accuzations.edward snowden. Trying to build a tech empire with like minded euntrapranures to make the world a eutopian dystopia with free health education & transport.ubi etc. To reduce war & suffering by 80-90%.

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