How to Be an Inventor When You Grow Up
Learn what it takes to become a famous inventor.
What does it take to become an inventor? It isn’t simply coming up with a new gadget. To be an inventor like Thomas Edison, The Wright brothers, or Alexander Graham Bell, you have to invent something that changes the world. But here is a little secret: nothing they invented was actually new.
Edison didn’t create artificial light, or even the light bulb—he improved it.
Flight has been around since the dinosaurs. People were using gliders before the Wright Brothers. What they did was the first successful powered flight, an improvement.
Bell invented a way to send sound over wires with the telephone. An improvement over the telegraph’s pulses of electricity.
To be an inventor, you don’t have to make something totally new that is ultimately not useful. To really be a good inventor, you have to find a new way to do something. Or improve something in a revolutionary way! Look around you right now and see what could be improved upon.
Not everything you see as an improvement is going to be something everyone sees as better. A cone-shaped peanut butter jar would be easier to get all of the peanut butter out of. But it would waste a lot of space in shipping and storage. Just because you don’t see it now, doesn’t mean a great idea isn’t there. Keep trying, you might invent something without trying!
A lot of inventions happened by accident. People were looking to solve one problem and ended up solving something different! The pacemaker, something that helps people with bad hearts, is one of those things.
Wilson Greatbatch was trying to invent a device to record the sound of the heart, but he installed the wrong transistor. He noticed the device was creating an electric impulse similar to a real heart. Superglue, Teflon, and potato chips were all invented by accident, so you’d be in pretty good company!
An invention doesn’t have to be a whole thing that stands on its own. Smartphones and tablets are a collection of hundreds, if not thousands, of inventions and ideas. Maybe you can invent an app that shows you where all your toys go when you need to clean your room.