This made me wonder what other
inventors had significant jobs in addition to their careers as
inventors. It turns out that there were quite a few, including some
whose other jobs, or "previous lives," were more significant than
their careers as inventors. (On a separate but equally important
note, I would like to officially be known as the "Writermeister"
from now on. That's with a capital "W.")
For example, the inventor of the
perfusion pump that keeps the heart and other organs alive outside
of the body during surgery is known not for this invention but
rather for his main career… as a pioneering aviator in the 1920s and
1930s. Who was this inventor? Charles Lindbergh.
In 1949 an Illinois inventor received a
patent for "A Device for Buoying Vessels Over Shoals." He went on to
become one of our nation's greatest presidents… Abraham Lincoln.
He's also the only U.S. president to receive a patent.
The funding that enabled an inventor
named Alfred Nobel to establish the Nobel prizes came from the
invention of… dynamite. Nobel was a pacifist who didn't want a
legacy associated with death, and he assured himself of a better
legacy with the awards that bear his name.
The Jacuzzi brothers immigrated to
America around 1917 and built aviation equipment before turning
their attention to building -- go to the back of the class if you
get this one wrong -- jacuzzis. A fatal crash of one of the planes
they designed led them to make the switch. Candido Jacuzzi ran the
family business until 1969, when he was indicted for income-tax
evasion and returned to Italy.
The next time you adjust your radio
dial, you can thank Hedy Lamarr. Who? Hedy was a silver-screen
actress during the 1930s and 1940s. If you're too young to remember
her (as I am), ask your parents. If they're too young, have them ask
their parents. The "Secret Communication System" that she
co-invented manipulated radio frequencies and was intended to
prevent the Nazis from intercepting radio-guided torpedoes in World
War II. The technology is similar to what happens when you hit the
"scan" button on your car radio. The Navy, by the way, rejected the
system in World War II, but the technology is used in cell phones
today and in radio.
[to top of second column
in this article]
Speaking of actors, there are others
who have lived "previous lives" who were not inventors. For example,
one actor received a $9,000 check for a movie that he appeared in,
and he carried the check around with him to show to his friends. By
the time he went to cash it, the film company had gone bankrupt,
causing the check to bounce! That actor was Babe Ruth.
Another baseball player,
spitball-throwing pitcher Bill Doak of the St. Louis Cardinals, was
an inventor. Doak invented the modern baseball glove that has the
webbing between the index finger and thumb.
The list goes on and on, but we'll
conclude with the story of another actor -- the one from a small
town in Illinois who went on to serve as president of the Screen
Actors Guild, then as governor of California and finally as the
person most responsible for ending communism in Europe and the
Soviet Union while he served as the 40th president of the United
States… Ronald Reagan.
even though President Reagan was a great man, he never invented
Invention Mysteries is written each
week by Paul Niemann, whose previous lives include playing hockey
for the University of Kentucky and being the inventor of the
Impeachment Card Game. He can be reached at
© Copyright Paul Niemann 2004