Necessity is the mother of all inventions, right? Wrong! Though the saying can be quite true for many of the things, it doesn’t necessarily mean it would be true for ALL things. Sometimes some inventions are made which go viral, earn the inventors millions of dollars, but they can be as useless as Rickon Stark in Game of Thrones.
Here are 7 such inventions that made people millionaires, but added nothing to the progress of humanity.
1. Handwritten messages on the potato.
In May 2015, 24-year-old Texas app developer Alex Craig came up with this idea of sending messages to people by having them written on a potato. Nothing could be more disastrous an idea in the time of internet when communication couldn’t be any easier. Even his girlfriend had to call it ‘the stupidest idea ever’. But she was both right and wrong.
Within the first two days of the launch of ‘Potato Parcel’, the company earned revenue of about $2,000. In Five months, Craig sold the company to Riad Bekhit for $40,000.
Today, Potato Parcel is delivering potatoes across US, UK, Canada, Europe and Australia. Bekhit wants to make it a global business. As per April 2016, the company was making a profit of about $25,000 per month.
2. ‘I am Rich’ app.
There are rich people, and then there are rich stupid people.
Between August 5 and August 6, 2008, six people from US, one from France and one from Germany downloaded an app from the Apple app store which was priced at $999.99, the highest that Apple allowed for developers to charge.
The app named “I Am Rich” was developed by German app developer Armin Heinrich that could do nothing except for displaying a glowing red gem and an icon which displayed the mantra ‘I am rich, I deserve it, I am good, healthy & successful’ when pressed. That’s it.
Though Apple removed the app from the store within a day, eight aristocrats had bought the most useless app ever. Heinrich made about $5,600 out of their stupidity while Apple took about $2,400 as commission out of the deal. We can only imagine how much he would have earned if Apple hadn’t had removed the app.
3. The million dollar homepage.
The million dollar homepage was a website developed by an English student Alex Tew in 2005 to gather money for his college education.
The idea was to divide the homepage into a million pixels of 1000 X 1000 pixels and sell each pixel for $1. People who purchased the pixels were provided with an image of their brand or logo clicking on which leads to their website.
This idea went viral in no time and it was all over internet after it was launched on August 26, 2005. He was showered with offers.
The last 1000 pixels were sold by a bidding system on eBay which fetched him $38,100. He made an astounding $1,037,100 out of this.
4. Plastic wishbones.
Ken Ahroni is a person who appreciates traditions, however, during a thanksgiving in 1999 when he was looking for a change in his career, he was struck with the realization that people wait for thanksgiving the entire year and those who believe in charms, they wait for the wishbone they get out of the cooked turkey for 12 long months. But, in a year, only two people could claim to make a wish and because of the shortage of wishbones, many hearts would get broken.
He decided to solve the problem and invented plastic wishbones so that everyone can now make a wish. Ken founded a company named ‘Lucky Break Wishbone Corp.’ in 2004 that started manufacturing synthetic wishbones that looked and produced sound very similar to that of turkey wishbones.
After only six months in business, Lucky Break sold about $50,000 worth of wishbones. This weird idea of plastic wishbones went viral and today the company produces around 30,000 wishbones daily and has a turnover of $2.5 million per year.
5. Lifeless rocks as pets.
You know the world is definitely a strange place when people are even ready to pay their hard earned money to buy useless ordinary rocks. In 1970s, Gary Dahl, a man from California came up with the idea of selling rocks as pets and named them Pet Rocks.
If you are still wondering that Pet Rocks are some special kind of rocks found in a special mountain, then you’re wrong. Pet Rocks were simple rocks, a little good in shape, but ordinary.
These rocks were packed in cardboard covers and sold for about $4, which would be about $18 today. You would be provided a guide with the rock about how you can take care and train your precious rock.
Around 1975, the pet rocks became quite famous and even people started to feed them, make them exercise and take them on vacations, making Dahl a millionaire by their strange obsession. In total, he sold 1.5 million Pet Rocks.
6. Pop-up ads.
One thing about internet that almost everyone mutually hates is Pop-up ads. No one likes to see them. You are reading that important article and suddenly an ad pops up on the screen and sometimes follows you down as you scroll, playing a video you have no interest to see. It gets everyone mad.
But the invention of useless pop-up ads was not even intentional. Inventor of the pop-up ads, Ethan Zuckerman, in an interview cleared that he was trying to create an advertisement that would not be put directly on a website because advertisers feared if a wrong ad is seen on wrong contents, it would harm the image of the product. He even went on to express how sorry he is for his invention and giving the world the most irritating form of advertisement.
Whatever might be the intention, Zuckerman and his company made good money out of this curse on humanity.
To the disappointment of Jesus Christ who taught that the sins of a person once forgiven, through the sacrifice of Jesus on Cross, is forgotten and he is ready to enter heaven, the Catholic Church in the 1500s thought that souls would still be punished for a temporary time for sins before entering heaven, but the pain and punishment can be reduced by the sinners if they buy a piece of paper from the church.
The papers called ‘indulgences’ were sold among weary ‘sinners’ by the church and it earned the church much money by feeding on the fears of the believers despite of much criticism from the Christian community itself and particularly from the protestants who regarded it unbiblical.
The practice continued till the 20th century. Though the amount that the church earned couldn’t be ascertained, it would not be surprising if it amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars if not billions viewing the practice continued for centuries. The Catholic Christians comprise the largest religious group and no one wants to be punished for their sins.
Anymore that you can think of? Do let us know in comments.