Six Completely Accidental Inventions

September 1, 2011
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Forget spending days, months and years thinking of the next big thing, these inventions were the consequence of sheer dumb luck and coincidence:


Penicillin Chemistry Breakdown

Arguably one of the most important scientific breakthroughs of history, the group of antibiotics was more an accidental discovery than a cultivated phenomenon. In 1928, credited inventor Alexander Fleming left a petri dish uncovered in his lab and noticed Penicillium growing around a bacteria, repressing its growth. Many years and clinical trials later, the life-altering antibiotic was finalized.

Penicillin Cures Gonorrhea

Super Glue

Super Glue
A source of endless amusement and frustration, the extremely useful Super Glue was invented by accident in 1942 by Dr. Harry Coover. The discovery was made during WW2 when Coover was working with a chemical, cyanoacrylates, to create weapons. The chemical was dismissed as a weapon material because it was too sticky, so Coover dumped the project and moved on. In 1951, he rectified his mistake, realizing the chemical super strength adhesive could become extremely useful. Six years later, Super Glue, or “Eastman 910”, was making waves.


Champagne Photograph
Heralding back to the 17th Century, a Benedictine monk tried fruitlessly to put bubbles in his wine. He toiled for two years with the bizarre idea, considering himself a poor winemaker. Little did he know the carbon dioxide bubbles floating in his wine would pave the way for the drink raised in celebration the world over.

Potato Chips

Potato Chips Picture

Disgruntled chef George Crum accidentally created potato chips in 1853. Working in Moon Lake Lodge resort in Saratoga Springs, New York, Crum made the thinly cut chips after a customer complained about the thickness of his fries. Though Crum wanted to annoy the diner further with potatoes sliced so thin that a fork couldn’t skewer them, the result was a universally loved snack.

Post-It Notes

Car Covered In Post It Notes
Those sticky, colorful, endless sources of pleasure, Post-It Notes, were the combined accidental result of failed lab work and a church choir. In 1970, chemist Spencer Silver attempted to develop a strong adhesive, but only succeeded in slightly sticking two papers together. Four years later, Silver’s colleague was singing in a church choir and used the glue on a paper to mark his hymn book, and they lifted without damaging the pages. The rest, they say, is history…


Vintage Coca-Cola After Exercise Advertisement

The thirst-quenching, teeth-rotting beverage was originally conceived as a patent medicine. John Pemberton invented it in the late 19th century for the Eagle Drug and Chemical Company in Columbus, Georgia. Pemberton envisioned the drink would cure headaches, alongside morphine addiction and impotence, and sold it at a small pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia in 1886 with that aim. Now a multi-billion dollar corporation, medicine never tasted so sweet.

Coca-Cola Ice Box