Former Air Force and NASA engineer Lonnie Johnson invented the massively popular Super Soaker water gun. — Submitted Photo

Former Air Force and NASA engineer Lonnie Johnson invented the massively popular Super Soaker water gun. He reinvested most of his earnings from the toy into energy technology research.

The upside-down ketchup bottle earned its inventor, Paul Brown, $13 million.

The inventors of Bubble Wrap, Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes, were originally trying to make 3-D plastic wallpaper, which was a failure.

Ruth Wakefield, the inventor of the chocolate chip cookie, sold the idea to Nestle Toll House in return for a lifetime supply of chocolate.

Robert Chesebrough, the inventor of petroleum jelly, ate a spoonful every day, claiming it had tremendous health benefits. He lived to be 96.

In 1904, tea bags were invented accidentally. The inventor, Thomas Sullivan, decided it was cheaper to send small samples to potential customers in silk bags instead of boxes. The recipients believed they were meant to be dunked and soon Sullivan was flooded with orders for his “tea bags.”

The bubble gum is pink because that was the only dye Walter E. Diemer (the inventor) had on hand at the time and it was his favorite color.

The inventor of the Game Boy, Gunpei Yokoi, was originally Nintendo’s janitor. The president of the company happened to walk by and was impressed by a toy he created out of boredom, leading to an illustrious career.

Volvo invented the three-point seat belt and then gave free license to all other auto manufacturers to use it.

The Whoopee cushion was invented by a 14-year-old Roman emperor who used it frequently on guests. He was assassinated by the time he was 18.

The only head coach in University of Kansas basketball history with a losing career record is James Naismith, the inventor of basketball.

Thomas Jefferson invented the swivel chair and sat on the first one while writing much of the Declaration of Independence.

The invention of a post- or pillar-type fire hydrant is generally credited to Frederick Graff Sr., chief engineer of the Philadelphia Water Works, around the year 1801. It had a combination hose/faucet outlet and was of “wet barrel” design with the valve in the top. It is said Graff held the first patent for a fire hydrant, but this cannot be verified, because, ironically, the patent office in Washington, D.C., caught on fire in 1836, destroying many patent records from that period in the process.

The first mobile phone call was made in 1973 by Martin Cooper, a former Motorola inventor.

In 2012, a 10-year-old accidentally created a new molecule in science class: tetranitratoxycarbon.

Mary Anderson invented the windshield wiper for the automobile and Margaret Knight invented a machine that created flat-bottom paper bags.

One of the most famous inventors we all take for granted is Levi Strauss. Strauss invented blue jeans.

Some of the most famous inventors are: Archimedes, Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Johannes Gutenberg, Alexander Graham Bell, George Washington Carver, Eli Whitney, the Wright Brothers, John Baird, Henry Ford, George Eastman and Heinrich Hertz.

Contact staff writer Chanel Hill at (215) 893-5716 or at

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