They say, necessity is the mother of all invention, and to a large extent, that’s the absolute truth. If we were not driven by the necessity of reaching a place faster, we would not have cars and trains, and, if we were not driven by the necessity of lying lazily on the couch and enjoy television uninterrupted, remotes would not have invented.
In this article, however, you are going to read about nine products, which were invented for a specific reason and are successful because people used them wrongly or intentionally for a completely different purpose.
Original purpose: To cure morphine addiction
Found success as: Another addictive drug to celebrate
Heroin is a synthesized form of morphine and was originally intended to cure patients addicted to morphine. Bayer, a German pharmaceutical company, first created it commercially and started promoting it as a medication to cure coughs and cold among children besides treating morphine addiction. The company came up with the name ‘heroin’ after the employees reported that they felt ‘heroic’ after taking the drug. Sadly, the new drug was equally addictive if not better and became so popular that needed to be declared illegal.
2. Bubble Wrap
Original purpose: Wallpaper
Found success as: Packaging product and providing odd satisfaction when bursted
Bubble Wrap was originally invented to use as textured wallpaper by engineer Al Fielding and inventor Marc Chavannes in the year 1957. But the idea could not become popular. Later, they tried to sell it as a greenhouse insulator. It didn’t work either. Finally the invention was taken to IBM to demonstrate the protective ability of the product. IBM started using it as a packaging material for their new 1401 computers. Today, around $400 million worth of Bubble Wrap are sold annually.
3. Tea bag
Original purpose: Cost saving tactic
Found success as: Hassle free use of tea
In the year 1908, New York tea merchant Thomas Sullivan, in an effort to save some money, decided to send tea samples in small silk bags instead of metallic cans to promote his business. The bags were closed with strings that had a tag bearing his company name. The customers however thought that the entire bag was meant to brew without opening or perhaps dipped the entire bags accidentally. Anyway, this led to the birth of tea bags and has been a blessing since.
4. The Frisbee
Original purpose: Tray
Found success as: Toy
The Frisbees were actually pie trays sold along with the pie by the Frisbee Pie Company. But when the owner saw that the local kids would keep playing with the trays as toys, he decided to sell them as flying discs with a different name. However, people continued to call it Frisbee and the original name of the toy was eventually dropped.
5. The Chainsaw
Original purpose: To cut bones
Found success as: Felling trees and weapon of mass murder
The Chainsaw was invented by Doctor John Aitken and James Jeffray to cut bones and to be used for delivering babies and in the age when operations were done without the use of anesthesia the chainsaw continued to be used for the most of the 19th century until it was replaced by the Gigli twisted wire. Chainsaw today is an important tool for all arborists and is used to fell trees.
Original purpose: Cure for hypertension
Found success as: Cure for penile dysfunction
Viagra was originally conceived to treat hypertension, heart diseases and angina. But trails of the product revealed that the product wasn’t much effective for the purposes it was conceived in the first place. However, the male test subjects of the product experienced a rather strange side effect: erection. Years later, Viagra took the markets by storm as an effective product to treat penile dysfunction.
Original purpose: A defense network
Found success as: Global network to share information and cat pictures
The origin of Internet dates back to 1960s when the United States Federal Government commissioned the development of a communication system in case of a crisis like a nuclear attack. ARPANET, the primary precursor network so developed served as a backbone to interconnect regional academics and military for years till National Science Foundation decided to develop a similar network to interlink universities initially. But through public funding and partnerships of private industries, it led to commercial extensions and huge participation and eventually a global network of interconnected computers.
Original purpose: Wallpaper cleaner
Found success as: Toy
Play-doh was invented by Noah McVicker of Cincinnati-based soap manufacturer Kutol Products as wallpaper cleaner that could clean coal residue from wallpapers in the 1930s. But as natural gas home heating replaced the coal-based home heating and other wallpaper cleaning products emerged in the market, the demand of McVicker’s product was literally removed. Twenty years later, McVicker’s son Joseph improvised the product and sold as clay to pre-schoolers who loved it. Thus, play-doh was born. The Toy Industry Association in the year 2003 included Play-Doh in its “Century of Toys List”.
9. Sanitary napkins
Original purpose: Surgical dressing
Found success as: Collecting period blood
Sanitary napkins were actually made first for the soldiers during the First World War for surgical dressing of the wounds, but the nurses of the Red Cross serving during the war found in them an alternative to the reusable napkins that women used to use till then during menstrual periods. As the product was a great absorbent and cheap enough to dispose once used, they started using them unofficially. Once the war was over, and the market was dead for the product, the napkins were improved and branded as ‘Kotex’ and disposable napkin was born.