Top The 10 Most Iconic People in Product History

10 Bíró Lázló

A ballpoint pen or biro!

The sinister pen that retains the name of its creator, Bíró, was primarily inspired by quick-drying newspaper ink and was born in Hungary. Back then, he was a journalist. He enlisted the help of his brother Georg, a chemist, after realizing the ink wouldn’t work in a regular fountain pen. The two of them collaborated to create the now-iconic ball-and-socket tip. In 1938, the innovation received a patent. They moved to Argentina during WWII and filed for a second patent that year. The design saw successful usage in high-altitude combat aircraft during that period and saw rapid commercial adoption in the years after the declaration of peace. These days, ballpoint pens are dependable, hygienic, disposable, and incredibly affordable. But in 1949, for my birthday, my grandpa got me one that looked and felt just like a pricey fountain pen—complete with a retractable tip, a fancy case, and replaceable ink cartridges. As it spread like wildfire on this student’s fingertips, clothing, and schoolwork, the design’s fatal flaw became immediately apparent. The ink was a nearly permanent shade of blue.

9 Eberhardt Bunsen, Robert Wilhelm

Burner for bunsen

Anyone who has ever taken chemistry in school, whether voluntarily or because they were forced to, will be familiar with the Bunsen burner, a staple of laboratory equipment. The apparatus is designed to aid individuals who managed to escape from “stinks.” It has a spherical metal base and a vertical, open-topped, hollow tube that is linked to a gas source via a rubber hose. The gas flow and air inlet can be fine-tuned using the metal tube. The gas can be heated to high temperatures for chemical experiments by turning it on and lighting it at the tube’s top, creating a variable flame. If you want to point the finger at an Englishman, Michael Faraday, here’s the man to blame. The German, Bunsen, based his design on his prototype, which he created. Bunsen has done a lot of other great things in the field of chemistry as well.

8 Oh, Rudolf! Karl-Christian Diesel

Powertrain: diesel

No one can dispute the widespread influence of this particular inventor, mechanical engineer, and inventor of French descent who was born in Germany and lived there for a while. When patent issues derailed Diesel’s once-promising career in refrigeration, he shifted his focus to developing a motor that could outperform both the steam engine and the internal combustion engine. In 1892, his first compression-ignition engine was born out of his extensive understanding of thermodynamics, which he had acquired during his stellar academic career. As an Englishman, I’m sorry to break news to you, but Herbert Akroyd Stuart, a young man from Yorkshire, is widely believed to have invented the compression-ignition engine before Diesel. Even two years before that, he apparently filed for his patent. Therefore, everyone, “the Stuart engine” is now in full swing. As English football fans know all too well from their 1966 soccer World Cup victory over Germany, in which the winning team scored an own goal, the rewards belong to the victor. While traveling by steamer to a business conference in London, Diesel vanished at sea. It may be said that he finally poured his oil on troubled waters (or was it Stuart’s revenge?) when his system triumphed against steam. For those who are increasingly interested in biofuels, it is interesting to note that Diesel’s initial engines used… peanut oil! There is nothing novel about this.

7 Gale Ferris, George Washington, Jr.

Wheel of exclusion or observation

Observation gondolas or passenger seats strung at regular intervals around a huge, slowly rotating upright metal structure is called a Ferris wheel. Although smaller versions can be seen at regional traveling or permanent fairgrounds, more substantial ones have been commissioned for national or even international events. The biggest ones, like the London Eye, are always there in cityscapes, drawing huge crowds of people to great heights to take in breathtaking views. The first known versions were probably eight or so people riding on them and were made of wood, as is the case with many innovations that later became commonplace. From the 17th century onward, these may be found in the Ottoman Empire. At the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, American railway and bridge engineer Joseph E. Ferris created the first metal wheel and gave it his name. The original, which stood 80 meters tall, could accommodate 2160 people in 36 cars. Two steam engines kept it going until 1906.

It is surprising that it was not dubbed the Washington wheel, considering his entire name! Even however, Ferris asserted that the organizers of the Exhibition had deceived him and the investors to the tune of the majority of the earnings. He was motivated, like other innovators, to squander resources like time and money trying to get what was legally his in a court of law. Inventors who achieve widespread acclaim often enjoy long and fruitful lives. Among the unlucky few, Ferris was not an exception. Just three years after his star was cast in stone, at the age of 37, he succumbed to typhoid disease. I can still vividly remember the summer fairground in Folkestone, Kent, where my parents would take me on vacation every year when I was a kid. It featured a 30-35 meter tower from which a courageous stuntman would leap into an absurdly little pool of water, much like Duncan the horse from The Simpsons. I rode its Ferris wheel quite a bit. From the Millenium Wheel, also known as the Eye, our family has also enjoyed the breathtaking panoramas of London, which extend all the way to the field of the professional soccer team that we root for. It would have been great if the titular Ferris Bueller got to ride one during his Day Off movie.

6 Joe Guillotin, M.D.

Casket execution

Please, I am sorry. Dr. G. is sad. What a horrible thing to be preserved in stone. Perhaps the brutal beheader would be best understood as the wife of the good doctor, considering her gender and, most importantly, her nickname, “Madame Guillotine.” The French doctor and politician Guillotin did not come up with the idea for the device. Even more implausibly, the motivation behind it was a desire to help others. It had previously been the practice of breaking the body of the condemned person as slowly and agonizingly as possible before releasing them mercifully by killing them. At least once, this enraged bystanders to the point that they managed to get the hangman to release the prisoner. Guillotin put out a method of beheading that would be both quick and painless, seeing as how reform was in the air. Ironically, he actually wanted the death penalty abolished and was against it. Fortunately, his demise was natural and not caused by his eponymous death machine. Our home truly contains a domesticated guillotine. Assuming we take precautions to avoid cutting ourselves, it causes no more evil than tailor paper to our specifications.

5 Hoover, W. H. “Boss”

Dustpan or vacuum cleaner

While compiling this list, one of the most surprising things was how little is known about the individual whose name is most commonly linked to the vacuum cleaner.
Specifically, absolutely no identifying information. We can see the primary cause. He was only a prominent businessman who, in 1908, after the concept had already gained traction, started producing a specific model designed by someone else. Calling a computer a Gates would also be somewhat illogical. Still another charming turn of events. Americans were Hoover’s enemy. However, the British are credited with popularizing the term “the hoover” as a general noun. As if the English had used the word “hovercraft” and the Americans had used the word “cockerell” (after the machine’s English creator). Looking at the United States from an outsider’s eyes, “the Hoover” may mean either the 31st president or some mysterious figure entangled in the circumstances surrounding JFK’s death. Just so you know, the first vacuum cleaner was invented in 1868, but it was a manual machine. It was actually James Murray Spangler who conceptualized the original Hoover, complete with its distinctive spinning brush. There are many examples of Stigler’s Law of Eponymy, and this one is a classic: “No finding is ever called after the person who found it first.”

4 This is John Loudon McAdam.

Macadam pavement, asphalt, Tarmac or macadam
Our modern, high-speed highways and interstates can be traced to a member of the aristocracy who was a son of the Scottish Baron of Waterhead and who lived in the US for a while. His work was among the most significant developments in national highway engineering since the Romans’ groundbreaking early works. As an estate owner and turnpike trustee, he became interested in this subfield of civil engineering. The three main inventions attributed to McAdam were the following: (1) constructing a rock and gravel base that was solid, compacted, and well-drained; (2) elevating the road surface above the surrounding ground-level; and (3) including a camber for surface drainage. An additional sealed, tarred surface was the most significant upgrade in subsequent years. Even though his system was quickly and broadly accepted throughout western civilization, he barely reaped any personal benefits from it—just like many other significant thinkers and inventors. It could be fair to say that he was politically steamrolled.

3 The fourth Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu

A sandwich consists of two halves, one comprised of bread or a comparable substance and the other of filling.

Before it was officially recognized and called a sandwich, stuffing bread had a lengthy and, to some extent, unintentional history. The first evidence of this dish suggests that it was part of the ancient Hebrews’ Passover celebrations, when unleavened breads like Mexican tortillas or Indian chupattis were common. Like other members of the English nobility at the period, the honorable Earl held several prominent positions in the diplomatic and military spheres. He was notoriously crooked and inept while serving in public office. Even so, there was a clean side to Sandwich as well. He was particularly proud of and enthusiastically supported Captain Cook’s marine expeditions, which earned him the honor of having the Sandwich Islands named after him. But ever since the Hawaiian Islands were rechristened, the delectable double-decker remained firmly ingrained in his memory. Many theories attempt to explain his association with this pioneering fast food. He may have chosen to have his meals in that more sanitary setting at his desk because he was always on the go. According to an alternate theory, he could keep his fingertips clean during lengthy card games without getting up from the table, thanks to the dry bread on either side. Some culinary variants, such the sponge sandwich, have evolved from the bread-based kind. Examples of philological offshoots include crowds and the sandwich course.

2 Shrapnel, Henry

A fragmented shell

Several eponymous names appear to have been inspired by their products, rather than the other way around, according to common sense. Crapper is one that readily springs to mind. The name Thomas Crapper must have come from a bygone era of passing references, right? Was he a toilet attendant or cleaner, maybe? Not even a little bit. Because of his own “full-flush” creative imagination, the poor man will always be low among the ordure. It appears that the same is also true for Henry Shrapnel, another Englishman. Shrapnel, the name of the broken shells, is so common that his family very certainly got it from them. Absolutely not. The man behind the invention was Shrapnel, who is currently serving in the army. His initial concept, a spherical cannon round, detonated while in flight, doling out deadly metal fragments to the opponent. The idea that would later become known as the cluster bomb was born from this. An early application of the technology was to thwart the use of aircraft during combat. ‘Archie’ is the name given to it by the Allied pilots of World War 1. White smoke from allies and black smoke from German shells. During the Nazi blitz bombings in the 1940s, we used to hear the sound of A.A. shrapnel falling on our roof. The next morning, as little boys, we would go out and gather the gleaming, fascinatingly shaped debris. Some inventors were lucky than others, including Shrapnel. He was bestowed a lifelong, princely prize from an appreciative British government—more than $125,000 (the equivalent in today’s currency).

1 Super Mario Bros.

Galvanized (like iron)

Scientist Galvani brings Italy to the list. He made the first link between electrical currents and the motion of living things in a now-famous experiment involving frogs’ legs. A direct current of electricity generated by chemical action being referred to as “galvanism” was a compliment he received from the more famous Volta after a cordial technical disagreement on the nature and source of organic electricity. Volta produced the first battery as a result of the argument, and he naturally also gained some eponymous celebrity. As the word “galvanism” fell into disuse, alternatives such as “galvanisation” and “galvanised” emerged. We no longer use these terms to describe metals that have been electroplated. The term “galvanised into action” is another one of their legacies.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 The Most Notable Olympic Scandals

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