7 World’s Greatest Inventions That Were Created By Mistake

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If you think about it, we use a wide range of items – such as a microwave or a lighter – every day, all of which make our lives easier and simpler. Although you might think that these discoveries were made through the method of trial and error, they were, in fact, created totally by chance.

Yes, there are various things that we use ranging from penicillin to the delightful chips you eat that were created by accident, and if you’re interested in learning more about the world’s most famous inventions that were created by mistake, you’re reading the right article. Let’s take a look at the list:

  1. “The Post-it Note”

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Inventor: Dr. Spencer Silver

If you visit the official ‘Post-It’ site, you’ll learn that Spencer Silver was working on developing effective adhesives, when he noticed something completely opposite of that – an adhesive that can be stuck slightly to a surface, however, one that did not bond tightly with it.

In the beginning, he had no intentions with the discovery he made, however, several years later, another expert connected with him and explain his idea to make a bookmark that can be placed on a piece of paper without destroying it. In the end, that exact product became something that we all use today – a Post-it note.

  1. “Penicillin”

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Inventor: Dr. Alexander Fleming

We have heard a lot of stories about Fleming and his inventions, nevertheless, when he found Penicillin in 1928, he became the creator of the first-ever antibiotic. In the start, Alexander didn’t realize what he has made, especially since he came across this medicine solely by chance – and might we all say luck.

He basically chose to leave out different types of the ‘Staphylococcus aureus’ in his office for more than 14 days, and once he returned to his workplace, he has discovered that they didn’t grow because they have been hindered by a type of mold often referred to as Penicillium notatum.

  1. “The X-Ray Machine”

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Inventor: Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen

At the ending of 1895, Wilhelm was in his office in Germany where he experimented with vacuum tubes wrapped in cardboard. It was at this moment that he saw a mysterious light emitting from the chemically coated screen that was located near the tubes. Of course, he was utterly confused and he referred to these rays as ‘X-rays’ since he didn’t know where they came from.

After he experimented with it for some time, he unexpectedly discovered that when he placed his hand in front of the glowing rays, he was capable of seeing more than just his skin – he could see the bones of his hand. This accident discovery led to Earth’s prime X-ray machine, one that has probably saved billions of lives by now.

  1. “The Microwave”

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Inventor: Percy LeBaron Spencer

Spencer was operating on a device named a magnetron, which is basically a vacuum that is greatly-powered and that creates short radio waves referred to as microwaves. While he was experimenting with it, he unintentionally discovered microwave cooking – and boy are we grateful to him!

How did he make this appliance? Well, he had a chocolate bar in one of the pockets and when he saw that it was completely melted, he understood that the machine he created was causing it to melt. By the year 1945, he had already registered for a patent, and it would have been easier if he had the help of organizations such as InventHelp that specialize in helping people file their patents.

  1. “Super Glue”

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Inventor: Harry Coover

Similar to how Post-it notes were discovered, Coover was searching for a substance that he could utilize in order to build a transparent plastic gun sight for battles, however, what he has found instead was a biochemical formula that quickly stuck to anything that he placed it on or touched.

Interestingly, his invention was rejected several times, mostly because other people didn’t think that there is a need, nor demand for such a substance. In 1951, the substance was finally encouraged and embraced by Fred Joyner, a colleague of Coover from Eastman Kodak – an endorsement we’re all grateful for today.

  1. “The Pacemaker”

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Inventor: Wilson Greatbatch

Besides penicillin and the X-ray machine, another item that has saved a lot of people since its conception is the pacemaker. A teacher at the University of Buffalo, Wilson, has created the pacemaker by mistake in 1956. While he was working on creating equipment meant to tape the tones a heart makes, he utilized the wrong radio and he has discovered that instead of recording the tones, the small machine emitted an electrical vibration, one that perfectly mimicked the one the heart made.

Wilson then chose to share his finding with his colleague, William Chardack, in 1958, and the two of them were capable of successfully regulating a dog’s heartbeat. Two years later, in 1960, they were also able to do the same thing for a human’s heartbeat, and since then, it has been used all over the world for helping people survive different heart illnesses and conditions.

  1. “Brandy”

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Inventor: An Unknown Dutch Shipmaster

During the late 16th century, an unknown Dutch captain was attempting to make wine easier to carry from one point to the next, hence, he opted for heating the concentration of alcohol by planning to add some liquid to it once he has reached his last stop.

But, once he landed, he learned that concentrated wine tastes far better than wine that was mixed with water. So, he opted for going forward with his idea to add h2O, and once he did, he named his new beverage “brandewijn”. When translated from Dutch, it means ‘burnt wine’.


There are millions of inventions out there that were made by mistake. And, as you were able to read and learn from our list above, some of the most important machines, medicine, and items were made entirely by mistake – which should serve as an inspiration for all new inventors.

So, now that you’re aware of all the things that were created completely by mistake, you might not want to lose any more time. Instead, you might want to do some more digging online, and discover more about some inventions that we haven’t mentioned in the article above.