15 Famous Accidental Inventions and Discoveries That Helped The World

Fortune too plays an Important Role!

Nikhil Gandhi

Dec 11, 2020|5 min read


If we ask you the mantra to become famous in life and always be remembered, what will be your answer? Dedication, Self-belief, hard work, focus, concentration, strong willpower, never give up attitude, and many such brilliant habits, right? Well, you are absolutely correct without a doubt. 

But what if we tell you that fame can also be achieved by mistake or accidentally? Sounds foolish? Don't worry, we are here to give proof. In this article, we bring together some accidental inventions and discoveries which changed the world and were totally unintentional.

Inventions and Discoveries - these sound like two powerful words that only a few people can boast about having their names against them. It does take the genius of a person to accomplish such a magnificent achievement in life. 

Meanwhile, on the other hand, unexpected things also do happen in life. They can either turn to be your way or might go against you. And since they are unexpected, you really can't do much about them. 

Now, what about a fortuitous invention or a discovery? Can't believe it? Let us make you believe this by presenting a list of 15 accidental inventions and discoveries which transformed the way we live.

Here list of 15 Famous Accidental Inventions & Discoveries:

1) The Microwave - Percy L. Spencer

In 1945, Percy Spencer was working with a microwave- emitting magnetron, and suddenly he felt a sensation in his pants. When he looked out, he noticed that the candy bar in his pocket had melted as a result of the radiation from the magnetron. This incident led to one of the most famous accidental discoveries ever- The Microwave open.

2) X-Rays - Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen

In 1895, a German physicist Wilhelm Rontgen was experimenting with cathode ray tubes. While experimenting, he realized that the radiation pierced through the black cardboard that covered the tube which caused a chemical which was a few feet away to glow leading to one of the finest accidental inventions of all time- X-rays.

3) Ice Cream Cone - Ernest A. Hamwi

In 1904, when an ice cream vendor was out of dishes to serve ice cream, the vendor next to him, Ernest Hamwi gave a brilliant solution of turning waffles into cone-shaped vessels to carry the ice cream and thereby accidentally inventing a gift for all the ice cream lovers!

4) Post-It Note - Dr Spencer Silver, Art Fry

Dr Spencer, a scientist, while researching strong adhesives noticed something which could stick lightly to surfaces without causing any damage but didn't have a clue about what to do with it. Then years later, another scientist, Art Fry came up with the idea of creating a bookmark that would not damage the paper which turned that observation of Dr Spencer into an accidental discovery of the Post-It note.

5) Brandy

In the 16th century, a Dutch shipmaster to easily transport the wine, concentrated the alcohol using heat and planned to add water afterwards. But after reaching his destination, he realized that the concentrated wine tasted better, hence leading to the accidental invention of Brandy.

6) Penicillin - Sir Alexander Fleming

In 1928, Sir Fleming returned from his summer vacation and during examining some colonies of Staphylococcus aureus. He noted that a mold known as Penicillium notatum had contaminated his Petri dishes. As he grew the mold himself, he made an accidental discovery of the antibiotic- Penicillin.

7) Matches - John Walker

In 1826, while fortuitously scraping a stick coated with chemicals across his hearth, Walker observed that it caught fire and accidentally discovered the matchsticks. Originally made of cardboard, he eventually substituted it with sandpaper and wooden splints.

8) Velcro - George de Mestral

De Mestral while out hunting with his dog observed some burrs sticking to its fur. He viewed it under a microscope and observed tiny hooks that allowed it to stick to a surface like fabric and fur. After experimenting for years with several textiles, he arrived at one of the famous accidental discoveries- Velcro.

9) Chocolate Chip Cookies - Ruth Graves Wakefield

In 1930, during the preparation of some chocolate cookies, Wakefield realized that the baker's chocolate was finished and decided to substitute it with Nestle semi-sweet chocolate. While substituting, what she didn't know was that it would lead to the birth of Chocolate chip cookies-one of the tastiest accidental inventions ever.

10) Potato Chips - George Crum

In 1953, George Crum, a chef at the Moon Lake Lodge Resort in New York got a complaint of thick and mushy French-fried potatoes by one of their customers. He then came up with the solution of frying them until they were a bit brown and also cutting thin slices leading to the accidental invention of one of the most famous snacks of the world- Potato chips.

11) Vulcanised Rubber - Charles Goodyear

In 1839, vulcanized rubber was accidentally invented by Goodyear. He had been trying to create a weatherproof rubber for years and in the process, by chance, dropped some regular rubber mixed with sulfur onto a hot stove to find out that structure was retained as it was.

12) Dynamite - Alfred Nobel

This accidental invention proved too costly for Alfred Nobel as he ended up losing his brother to it along with many other lives. Nobel, while in Paris began experimenting with nitroglycerin and somehow found a way of taming it by mixing it with kieselguhr.

13) Coca-Cola - Dr John Stith Pemberton

A pharmacist, Dr Pemberton wanted to make something to deal with people like him who had an addiction to chemical drugs. He tried this by making an alcoholic drink filled with caffeine and cocaine. But due to the hitting of Prohibition, he eventually had to remove alcohol out of his recipe, thus accidentally inventing one of the most favourite drinks for all- Coca-Cola.

14) Teflon - Roy Plunkett

In 1938, Chemist Roy Plunkett was attempting to create a new form of CFCs but actually ended up making some mysterious bits that looked like white powder. Intrigued by this, he went on to examine them only to find out that they were a high melting point lubricant- Teflon and he had made an accidental invention which is applied to all non-stick pans.

15) Super Glue - Dr Harry Coover

In 1942, Dr Coover was trying to make clear plastic gun sights which could be used in WWII. However, his formula didn't go as planned but instead, it led to the accidental invention of the Super Glue also known as cyanoacrylate.

So, we would like to ask what do you make of these people behind these accidental inventions and discoveries? Your answer-Lucky or maybe extremely lucky. Is that the answer? We do agree upon this answer but simultaneously you should also remember that Luck favours the brave! So, keep working hard and smart and you too might end up having a similar great fortune!!

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Nikhil Gandhi

I love reading books, gaining factual knowledge about different topics around the world, and also presenting my views on various domains through writing content.



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