#3. Ron Klein: MAGNETIC CREDIT CARD STRIP
Before Ron Klein rode around to revolutionize credit cards, those flashy pieces of plastic were not as cool as they are right now. Meaning – they were slow. This was due to the fact that the number of any given account had to be requested and then found on a printout, by a living person, in order for a vendor to accept your charge. Klain fixed that using magnetic tape (which was already invented in music) and an encoding method, which allowed numeric information to be saved on the strip, located on the back of any given plastic card.
Although he did patent it, that nifty little invention didn’t make him rich back then. He later went on to invent a lot of other things (one of which is his own nickname – THE GRANDFATHER OF POSSIBILITIES) and made a small fortune.
#4. Benjamin T. Montgomery: STEAM-OPERATED PROPELLER
Benjamin (Ben) Montgomery lived in Loudoun County, Virginia, until his master sold him to another man in Mississippi, a plantation owner, by the name of Joseph Davis. Davis, was something of a big deal down there – he came from old money and also an older sibling of Jefferson Davis, who later became president of America’s Confederate States. Joseph took a liking to his new slave, to the point that after Ben’s failed escape attempt, he gave him a white man job to do, running his general store on the plantation. That later resulted in Benjamin dealing with all of Davis’ shipping business along the river.
River navigation was hard in those times, due to water flowing in different speeds, depths varying, etc. In order to be on top of that, Ben invented something completely unseen to this moment – a propeller, operated by steam, that allowed boats to safely navigate the shallows.
Of course, being a slave, Ben was unable to patent any of that. He was, however, allowed to keep the income of his invention. The money poured in and soon ol’ Ben was able to buy his freedom.
#5. Mikhail Kalashnikov: THE AK-47
Now this one, I really love. We’re talking crème-de-la-crème, here. It’s Russia’s most exported item, followed by vodka and suicidal book authors – the king, the one and only AK-47.
His ‘author’ – the late Mikhail Kalashnikov wanted nothing more than to serve Mother Russia. In the year 1947 (hence the name), as a weapons designer, he wrote his masterpiece, creating this rifle. It was cheap to make, easy to use and very accurate at all ranges. For all those reasons, it quickly became a hit among soldiers and militants from all over the world. As far as I know, the only army that don’t use it is, the Salvation Army. As of today, there are 100,000,000 units in use. But since the Soviets lived in a communist state at that point, Kalashnikov was awarded a whole bunch of medals, but never made any money.
Kalashnikov died in 2013, deeply regretting his invention of death. He wrote a letter on the matter and even asked the Orthodox Church for forgiveness for all the lives his work has destroyed and for a good reason. Ak-47 is so easy to use, that even children can shoot with it. And they do.