#9. Harvey Ball: THE SMILEY
No, it’s not Forest Gump who created that. In fact, what most of us just take from granted at any point we communicate via any kind of chat application, was created back in 1963, by a guy named Harvey Ball. Took him ten minutes to make it, for which he was paid $45 (now it’s more like $350).
At that point Ball was making ends meet as an artist and he got the job from an Assurance Company (State Mutual Life). What they needed was an simple image to boost morale. The smile was first put on buttons, but then found its way to T-shirts and posters, before getting so popular, that you could see it everywhere. Billions in earned revenue and none of it ever got to Ball.
#10. Alexey Pajutnov: TETRIS
1984 marks the creation of TETRIS. Copies sold – over 70 million. Revenue earned – several billion dollars and counting. What a remarkably genius video game TETRIS is! The creator – Alexey Pajuntov changed the gaming world in one stroke, but never got anything to show for, because being Russian at that point in time meant that nothing you did as an individual was yours to begin with. Communism, I tell you.
Nintendo were the first to see a golden opportunity and introduced Tetris to the West though their handheld device, the Game Boy and made a killing. The profits from the game itself went to the Soviet Government.
After the fall of the Union, Alexey did regain his ownership rights, but it was too little, too late – Tetris mania was over and the river of money it created had dried up long ago.
#11. Catherine Hettinger: THE FIDGET SPINNER
Alright, admit it – even if you don’t own one, at least five people you know have it on their desks. You know what I’m talking about – the undeniably charming and quite addictive device that does nothing, but spin seemingly forever.
This marvel of balanced engineering and simplistic ingenuity was created by Florida’s very own Catherine Hettinger, an engineer and a young mother. Is she rich now, because of it? Check the title of that list.
She did hold a patent for several years at one point in time, but was hard pressed to give it up, because she couldn’t afford the fee for patent renewal. It was a matter of $400 and the young mother made an uneasy choice by abandoning her invention, in order to make the ends meet.