History is filled with bizarre inventions that have made a fortune. From Furbies to Tamagotchis, these useless and strange inventions have turned out to be literal gold mines for their inventors.
Here we highlight seven prime examples and attempt to answer some common questions on bizarre inventions.
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What was accidentally invented?
Throughout the history of innovation, many devices have been developed completely by accident. According to sites like storypick.com, some famous ones include:
- The First Practical Implantable Pacemaker
- Microwave Oven. Image source
- Penicillin. Image source
- X-Ray Images
- Artificial Sweetener
- Post-it Notes
- Potato Chips
- Coca Cola
How much did Snuggies make?
Snuggies, those strange blankets with sleeves everyone was talking about a few years back, where a massive commercial success. According to sites like scoopwhoop.com, they were able to net a cool $200 million!
How can I get rich off an idea?
This is not a simple question to answer. You can collect an entire library of books on just this subject.
There are also millions of articles online, videos on YouTube and many websites that claim to be able to help you "get rich" from your idea or invention.
But, the simple truth is it will take dedication, time, sacrifice and the right connections to get there. While you can get rich quickly, the chances are it will take you a long time for your brand to get recognition and trust from the market.
Most "gurus" will tend to offer the following advice (obviously this is not exhaustive) :
- Read, read, read! - "Leaders are readers" as the saying goes. Some classic books to read include "Rich Dad, Poor Dad," "The Intelligent Investor," and many more.
- Learn to fail - "Fail and fail fast." Learning to cast aside your fear of failure will pay dividends for your personal and business development.
- Develop good habits - Most successful entrepreneurs have developed a set of good habits they follow almost religiously. Eat well, exercise, SLEEP, and find time for yourself, are all prime examples.
- Network - "No man is an island." You are going to need investment, legal and other advice to get your idea off the ground. Get out there and meet people, find mentors, and other like-minded entrepreneurs, to give you advice.
- Do something you love - Make sure you invest and build in a business idea that you actually love. If you are just in it for the money chances are it will not succeed (but not always).
7 bizarre inventions that made a fortune
Here are seven examples of completely bizarre and useless inventions that have made an absolute fortune.
1. The once ubiquitous Furby
Do you remember Furbies? Believe it or not, this incredibly ugly and useless toy made its creators a whopping $500 million a year during its heyday.
During the early 2000s, these hamster-come-owl nonsense-chattering toys sold for $45 a pop and literally dominated the toy market for several years. They could speak English (sort of), and would often babble-on in nonsensical "Furbish."
According to Business Insider, Furbies were actually banned from The National Security Agency as they were thought to be Chinese spying devices. This turned out to be complete nonsense -- at least that's what Tiger Electronics (the Furby's manufacturer) said.
2. Tamagotchi's were a huge success
These hideously colored, plastic egg-shaped digital pets were completely useless but turned out to be a gold mine. At its height of popularity, these diminutive toys sold well over 70 million units around the world.
Users were required to tend to their digital dependent by pressing various buttons to feed, clean and clean up after their pixelated-pet. So long as you were attentive it would grow and thrive, but neglect it and it would unceremoniously die.
3. Big Mouth Billy Bass was a massive hit
The Big Mouth Billy Bass was the talk of the town almost two decades ago. A fond favorite at parties and as a novelty present, this completely useless invention made a fortune.
According to Business Insider, this wall-hanging singing plastic fish is thought to have made well over $100 Million in sales.
"It took two years of tinkering for creator Joe Pellettieri to get Billy Bass just right — the moving head, the motorized tail, and mouth, all in perfect harmony while singing "Don't Worry, Be Happy" and "Take Me to the River."
Today, you can buy an Alexa-enabled singing bass from Amazon for $40," according to Business Insider.
The Slinky was another completely useless invention that made its owner a fortune. It was devised in 1943 by a naval engineer, Richard James, completely by accident.
When it was first released, the Slinky completely sold out in less than 90 minutes. To date, it has sold over 350 million units and has made about $3 Billion in profit.
Not too shabby.
5. Do you remember the Pet Rock?
Who'd've thought that by sticking a pair of googly eyes on a rock could make you a fortune? Well, that's exactly what the Pet Rock's inventor, Gary Dahl, managed to achieve.
This incredibly bizarre invention was a huge hit and made millions of dollars within a short period of time. Back in the mid-1970s, when the product hit the market, it sold well over 5 million pieces in short order, with each rock costing $3.95 a unit.
6. The Yellow Smiley Face made a fortune
The Yellow Smiley Face has become a ubiquitous image today. A very simple design, just two black ovals, and a smile on a yellow circular background took less than 10 minutes to create.
But this was time well spent by its inventor, Harvey Ball who netted a cool $45 for his efforts. However, the real money was made by Bernard and Murray Spain who realized its full potential.
Harvey never patented the idea, and the brothers decided to use for their novelty store. After they combined it with the tagline "Have a nice day," it became a worldwide sensation.
7. The mysterious Magic 8 Ball
Did you ever own a Magic 8 Ball? This completely useless invention's USP was its apparent ability to tell you your fortune.
This alcohol and dye-filled ball with a 20 sided die printed with various answers, was a huge commercial success. It was originally developed in the 1950s and was manufactured by Mattel.
They are still pretty popular today and have made literally millions in sales.