Seven Unexpected Inventions by People Who Are Famous for Other Things

When it comes to great inventions, it is easy sometimes to overlook the fact that some of the world’s most well-known inventions have stemmed from the brains of rather famous faces. Most intriguingly, these famous faces have often (but not always) found fame and fortune for reasons far removed from their invention.

The shock factor when you link the invention to the person can be extreme; about as shocking as when we brought you the news that there are actual living dragons on the planet (some of which can weigh 150 pounds!) or that Jim Carey is Canadian rather than from the USA. With this in mind, here are seven great inventions you might not know were created by someone already famous.

The Electric Chair: Designed to Put a Jolt into Another Invention

While Thomas Edison is a household name, famous for being the man who literally brightened up the world with his invention of the light bulb, he is also responsible for another, slightly more niche invention: the electric chair.

Indeed, the electric chair was one of the many inventions that Edison came up with in his battle for supremacy against Nikola Tesla (who gives fame to the Tesla car name, among other things), a rivalry that helped to bring about some pretty incredible inventions and ideas from both creators.

Benjamin Franklin Didn’t Just Get Struck by Lightning!

Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, is well-known for his kite experiment and his interest in electricity. Franklin famously used the kite to collect electric charge from a storm cloud, but he was also a man who wanted to make sure he could preserve his sight without needing lots of pairs of glasses.

To combat this, he created the bifocal glasses, which continue to be used to this day. While of course the originals weren’t as well crafted as they are nowadays, with companies like Zenni Optical still making a fortune from his work (and celebrating his work in the process), Franklin deserves a lot of praise!

Not Just a Man who Had an Apple Fall on his Head…

When you were born as a man from a poor background in 1643, and became one of the greatest geniuses to ever walk the earth, it’s got to be pretty annoying to go down in popular myth as having an apple fall on your head!

Of course, this isn’t the whole story, and discovering the laws of gravity has made Sir Isaac Newton a rightly famous name, but he plays a far more important role in many science classrooms that you might realise; not only did he define the law of gravity, but he was also the first person to build a reflecting telescope, an invention that is still very much in use today.

Salvador Dali had a Sweet Idea!

Few artists can claim to have had a serious influence on something that is still in use today. Salvador Dali, a surrealist artist from Catalonia famous for works such as The Elephants, was already an established artist in 1969 when the Chupa Chups lollipops brand contacted him and asked him to design a logo.

While no doubt it was something he created quickly given his undoubted skill, the fact that he also suggested that the distinctive daisy-shaped logo should go on the end of the lollipop, rather than on the side, in order for it to be easily seen from all aspects, has helped this famous and widely-loved brand stand out and survive despite fierce competition in the confectionery sector.

Roulette and the Role of Chance

French mathematician, inventor, theorist and writer Blaise Pascal is best known for his triangle and his work on probability, both of which still have an impact on inventions and ideas today (and of course form part of the life of all mathematics lessons!). You might argue that these err on the slightly boring side of the scale when it comes to inventions, but he also has another, far more unexpected invention to his name: the mechanism needed to play roulette!


Whether appearing on TV shows like Red or Black on ITV or used as a mainstay in casinos the world over, the roulette wheel is still very much an active part of the world, even though Pascal passed away in 1662. The polymath is said to have invented it while attempting to create a perpetual motion machine. However, other accounts claim that the invention of the roulette, estimated to have taken place in 1655, came about when Pascal was trying to find a way to entertain himself while on monastic retreat. Intentional or not, the roulette wheel remains popular to this day, even going digital in the late 2oth century.

More Than a Production Line

Henry Ford is, of course, best known for his creation of the world of assembly lines and helping to bring motoring to the masses with the car brand Ford. While the company he founded is known nowadays for more than just cars (with trucks and vans a big part of its business, helping the brand achieve pre-tax profits of $10.2 billion dollars in 2016), Henry Ford was also a fairly prolific inventor.


Ford registered a lot of patents for inventions, including parts for cars and ideas for airplanes, all of which helped make him a man who was not just interested in seeing cars being put together but also making sure their engines and brakes were as efficient and safe as possible. While no single invention stands out as being truly life-changing, his work and the number of inventions he came up with (he held over 50 patents, with the first issued in 1911) show that he was certainly no one-trick pony.

So there you have it: seven inventions brought to mainstream awareness by famous faces. Fast forward to 2017 and it isn’t overly easy to imagine the David Beckhams and Kim Kardashians of today replicating this theme, but you never know!

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