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[tweetmeme] I’ve been reading Strange & Fascinating Facts About Famous Brands by “Dr. Knowledge” Charles Reichblum.  I loved this book and gave it 5 stars over on Goodreads.

A story which caught my eye was about a product that made millions, but the inventor only made $400.

Walter Hunt 1796-1859

His Product Made Millions.  He Made $400.

One day in 1839, Walter Hunt was fooling around with a piece of wire and came up with a new kind of pin.  He called it a dress pin, but the world came to know it as the safety pin.

Hunt patented the safety pin, and that patent went on to be worth millions of dollars.  However, shortly after receiving his patent and before the money started rolling in, Hunt sold it for $400 because he owed a man $15 at the time and didn’t have the cash.  Hunt paid his creditor $15 and was happy to pocket $385.

What’s worse, Hunt had invented a sewing machine years before and had thrown away a fortune when he didn’t patent it at all.  His reason was that he feared it might cause unemployment among seamstresses.

But don’t be too worried about Hunt’s misfortune.  He eventually became rich with his inventions of a fire alarm, knife sharpener, icebreaker, and fountain pen.

Not many people have heard of Hunt, but this New York mechanic was one of history’s most unusual and ingenious inventors.

I read things like this and it kind of makes me sad.  I think of ideas all the time and say “someone should parent this or that” and of course I should be the one to patent the idea, but never do….

Do any of you have patents on anything?

Please comment and subscribe.

Walter Hunt image from: http://www.invent.org/hall_of_fame/279.html

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