10 Inventors Who Stole Their Ideas
Back in the Stone Age, a guy who was just roaming around the stone town
wanted to travel faster, maybe because he’s bored or something. One big idea
struck him suddenly, and he started carving a circular object on a rock he got
from his neighbor’s stone garden. He called his little invention the ‘wheel’.
But before he could present it to the other cavemen, he was struck in the head
by the now angry neighbor who got his garden messed up by this wandering sapien.
He then saw the wheel the first guy made and said, “Hey, I can show this to the
others and they will think I’m awesome!” so he took credit for one of man’s
innovative creations. Of course, historians would argue about the authenticity
of the anecdote, but they can’t really know that now, can they?
But these cases of intellectual property theft below aren’t as blurry as the
wheel inventor guy. Evidence has been shown (some are still questioned) that
their ideas are not really that original. Is it really possible that men would
go as far as to rob genius minds of their own pioneering concepts? You be the
judge of that.
Stolen Idea: Telephone
Back in the 18th Century, the concept of talking to people in a different place
without actually going there seemed impossible. However, one man changed the
course of history. They say this man was Alexander Graham Bell when he
introduced his ‘original’ patent in 1876. Since then, Bell took credit for
inventing one of the most innovative creations of man since the steam engine.
That premise would be correct, if only one man didn’t make a telephone prototype
16 years ago before Bell did. Italian-American inventor Antonio Meucci first
discovered that sounds could travel by electrical impulses through copper wires
when he was trying to research how to treat electric shocks in the 1830s. In
1860, he conducted a public demonstration of his ‘electrophone’, and the
cruelties of life came upon poor Meucci.
Heisty Facts: The genius that is Antonio Meucci didn’t actually gain
success with his groundbreaking invention. His paralyzed wife had to sell his
invention for $6 to a secondhand shop, and in 1874, his patent was ‘lost’ by the
Western Telegraph Company. Two years after that, Alexander Graham Bell
introduced his own version of the telephone, with the blueprints he got from his
lab partner Meucci. Bell got tons of money and fame from taking the credit of
his friend’s idea while Meucci died penniless.
Stolen Idea: Telescope
Pushing the timeline back to the 17th Century, we have Galileo Galilee and his
famous ‘invention’. He was the one who discovered many things outside our
earth’s atmosphere, like the fact that Jupiter has been married to different
moons (which explains the rings), and that our moon itself suffers from multiple
personality disorder (the different phases). Sure, he made these amazing
discoveries, but then he started taking credit for the invention of the
telescope. The truth is he took the original idea of his buddy Hans Lippershey,
adding a couple things to the orginal design he became the ‘inventor’ of the
Heisty Fact: Lippershey was the man behind the magic of telescope.
Sure, Galileo made astounding findings using his little peeking tube, but
Lippershey deserves more credit when it comes to the invention of it. Lippershey
was apparently surrounding himself with a bunch of smart friends; aside from his
star-exploring pal, he is also friends with Zacharias Jansen the man who
invented the microscope. These guys probably had eye problems.
8) Pedro Flores
Stolen Idea: Yo-Yo
It is known that Flores introduced the yo-yo in the 1920s, but earlier records
dating back 2,500 years ago suggest that the stringed toy had long been in
existence in ancient Greece. In an ancient bowl, there was a drawing that
depicts a boy holding a string with a disk attached at the end of it. Though it
is said to be a very lame yo-yo trick, it was very indisputable evidence that
yo-yos did come from Greece. So how did Flores get dibs on a very old patent?
Even experts are not sure. They say the yo-yo circulated around the world, and
eventually reached China and the Philippines. Now that’s marketing.
Heisty Fact: They say that the yo-yo was once used as a weapon in the
Philippines a few centuries ago. Now how cool is that? Imagine having that
awesome arsenal in your pocket, with sharp blades on both sides of the disk.
Stolen Idea: Moonwalk
This is about Michael Jackson and his famous ‘moonwalk’ dance step, first seen
in 1983. Aside from his crotch-grabbing antics, his moonwalk placed him at the
top of the list of the most iconic musical performers. But was he really the guy
who thought to himself on one brainstorming day, “Hey, maybe I can pretend-walk
on the moon backwards!”? It was actually a tap dancer named Bill Bailey who came
up with the move in 1955. Michael did it better though, no offense.
damkay at Deviantart
Heisty Facts: It’s weird that Jackson didn’t really steal the idea
from Bailey himself (the guy may have been dead by the time Jackson rose to
stardom), so where did the King of Pop get this career-changing dance move?
LaToya Jackson revealed in a 2004 interview that Jacko got the move from a Soul
Train dancer, Jeffrey Daniel. When Michael saw the move he instantly liked it
and tried to imitate it, and indeed he executed it like he owned the dance move
(and the dance floor).
6) Alan Turing
Stolen Idea: Computer
Alan Turing did not originally conceive the idea of a fully functional home
computer. Sure, he made the first commercial computer, but almost a century ago,
another man had a dream, a ‘difference machine’, to be exact. Mathematics
professor Charles Babbage laid out blueprints for a machine that could execute
simultaneous calculations in minimal amount of time. The problem was Babbage
didn’t have the money and moral support that an inventor needs. Basically Alan
Turing, together with some colleagues, just continued what Babbage couldn't
By User:geni (Photo by User:geni) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0],
via Wikimedia Commons
Heisty Fact: There was a rumor back in Babbage’s days that he was
given a chance to actually build his brainchild, but then he started asking
money from the government. It’s still a theory though, and some say it’s not
true. Nevertheless, his invention came into fruition in 1991 when the Science
Museum in London built it based exactly on Babbage’s prints, and the device
5) Bernard and
Stolen Idea: Smiley Face
The yellow guy with the biggest smile is so common, you’d probably think it just
came out of nowhere like a naturally sprouting weed. They say the Spain twins,
Bernard and Murray, created the logo to try and brighten up everyone’s day (and
because they knew it was a good marketing strategy). While it is true that they
were the first ones to make the smiley a fad, it was Harvey Ball, a graphic
artist from Worcester, Massachusetts, who first drew the famous drawing.
Heisty Fact: The purpose of the smiley wasn’t really to be put in
bags, key chains, sweatshirts and other apparel. Harvey Ball was assigned to
raise the moral of his co-employees and being the resourceful crew that he is,
he drew a smiley, because when you turn it upside down, it becomes a frown. At
least give this guy a raise.
4) Kurt Angle
Stolen Idea: Ankle Lock
Who knew lack of originality also exists in the world of sports-entertainment?
That is certainly the case when it comes to Olympic gold medalist and current
TNA superstar Kurt Angle and his signature finishing move - the Angle Lock. For
those of you who don’t like watching people beat each other limb by limb, the
Angle Lock is basically an ankle lock; you grab the feet of a faced down
opponent and twist it until he taps. Kurt Angle is arguably one of the best
pro-wrestlers in the wrestling industry, and his ankle-breaking maneuver did
wonders to his colorful career. But he was not the inventor of the ankle lock.
Ken Shamrock first used the move as his finisher during his WWF gig in 1997.
Heisty Fact: It is pretty common for wrestlers in the pro-wrestling
circuit to copy moves from other wrestlers. Some moves have become staples of
wrestling like the perfectplex, chokeslam, and the German suplex. So it’s no
surprise that Angle would have copied the ankle lock. But then, Angle just
started calling out wrestlers who uses his moves and called them unoriginal. As
WWE Superstar The Miz would say, “Really, Kurt, really?”
Stolen Idea: Basketball
This is a controversial one, considering that James Naismith is widely
considered as the man responsible for the creation of one of the main team
sports in the world. Almost all sports books would point out to Naismith as
basketball’s mastermind. But the theory about how the game came about is
something to think about. It goes like this: a colleague of Naismith actually
invented the game a year before he did, and that Naismith just borrowed rules
and added regulations to the game, and that’s how b-ball started. Lambert Will
is believed by others to be the true inventor of basketball, although the family
of Will never claimed the prestige of being the inventor of the popular sport.
Heisty Fact: The Lambert Will Theory started when a photograph of a
basketball team dated in 1892 was found. In the photo, the ball had a ’91-92’
logo printed on it, which meant that the team was formed in 1891, one year
before the very first game of basketball officiated by Naismith ever happened.
Conspiracy theorists consider this as their strongest evidence, shedding new
light to the angle James Naismith stole the basketball idea.
2) Steve Jobs
Stolen Idea: Every Apple Product Idea
Steve Jobs blatantly admitted in a 1996 interview that they do steal ideas and
make money out of it. The idea of the Mac came from a Xerox machine that Jobs
saw in 1979 and borrowed some interface elements from Windows; the idea of the
first tablet PC came about in 1987, 23 years before the IPad was launched;
Touchscreen technology is a thing of the past, dating back in 1965, yet Jobs
claims Apple invented it.
Matthew Yohe [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL],
via Wikimedia Commons
Heisty Fact: In his authorized biography in 2011, Steve Jobs had some
nasty comments about the Android, Apple’s smartphone nemesis, saying they stole
ideas from the IPhone.
Stolen Idea: Basically Anything He
Claimed He Invented
We considered him the best inventor ever back when we were kids because of the
many things he ‘invented’: electricity, the moving picture but most importantly,
the light bulb. First of all, you can’t really invent electricity, it’s just
there. Put a metal rod on top of the roof during a stormy night and boom!
Electrifying! He didn’t invent the first moving pictures; it was a man with a
French name in 1888. And Edison didn’t invent his mega idea light bulb, it was
Sir Humphry Davy in 1802. Why Edison gets all the fame and prestige is mostly
attributed to the fact that he was the first to get it to work correctly
supplied by alternating as well as direct current.
Heisty Fact: Remember the classic rivalry of Thomas Edison and Nikola
Tesla? They say Edison stole the idea of harnessing and powering things with
electricity from Tesla, which he probably did based on his track record. Edison
even takes credit for the electric chair. And the telegraph is not from Edison,
it’s from a guy with an unpronounceable name back in 1860.
Did they really steal ideas, or they just improved what they thought could be
improved? No one knows for sure, but it wouldn’t hurt if you credit someone as
an inspiration for your work.
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