Three Famous Inventors Who Overcame Failure

“Every glowing path that goes astray… shows you how to find a Better Way!”

Leave it to a 1968 classic children’s film to provide just the right amount of inspiration and humor to keep us motivated.

Recently, our founder and CEO, Mr. Davison, shared the inspirational tune The Roses of Success from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a movie about a down-on-his-luck inventor who eventually invents a revolutionary flying car. See the song below.

Throughout this movie and this song in particular, viewers are shown that sometimes things don’t play out as you’d hope. This notion applies perfectly to the world of inventing.

Sometimes our imaginations run free and we believe that our inventions will be an instant record-breaking success. However, even some of the most famous inventors had to overcome obstacles in order to achieve success!

If you don’t believe us, here’s a short list of inventors who had to overcome failure.

Let’s start with an example right from the song!


Alexander Graham Bell – Straight from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a verse that encapsulates Bell’s struggles to claim his invention of the telephone as his own! For years and years, Bell faced legal challenges to claim that he was the sole inventor. Rather than give up, Bell embarked on one of the longest patent battles in history to fight for his idea.

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison – The phonograph, electrical lamp and the movie camera were just a few of the inventions that are credited to Edison. However, none of these inventions, plus his more than 1,000 patents, would have been possible if he listened to his teachers that told him he was “too stupid to learn anything.”

Walt Disney

Walt Disney – Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney World wouldn’t mean anything to us today if Walt Disney listened to the newspaper editor who fired him because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” But, that wasn’t the only failure that Disney ever experienced. In fact, several more of his business ventures failed before the premiere of his movie “Snow White.” Despite these failures, we can see today that those detours eventually would lead him down the road to ultimate success!

Thanks to our own founder and CEO Mr. Davison for sharing this inspirational clip to show us that even the most successful inventors had to overcome their fair share of failures and obstacles to reach their own Roses of Success!

Copyright Davison, 2015



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Let the Creativity Begin: Happy National Inventors Month!

At Davison, we thrive on creativity and the inventive spirit every day. But, the month of May in particular is a time when we can celebrate our love of inventing with the rest of the invention world during National Inventors Month.

This month-long celebration of inventions and creativity began in 1998 by the United Inventors Association of the USA (UIA-USA), the Academy of Applied Science and Inventors’ Digest magazine.

The purpose of National Inventors Month is to help promote the positive image of inventors and the contributions that they make to the world we live in today, and for the future.

Right now, almost everything around you started with an idea. From that idea, an invention was born. National Inventors Month looks to celebrate those innovators, tinkerers and the creative thinkers whose ideas have enriched our lives day in and day out.

Let’s take Thomas Edison for instance. He was a famous inventor who invented the innovations that we utilize every day, like the electric light bulb and the phonograph that laid the foundation for inventions like the CD player and iPod to name a few. In his lifetime, Edison held more than 1,000 patents for his inventions!

Perhaps you are reading this blog by the assistance of glasses; you can thank Benjamin Franklin for his invention of the bifocals. Or maybe you are planning your summer vacation to a destination that is too far for you to drive. Thanks to the Wright Brothers, who successfully designed, built and flew the first powered aircraft, you can now get to your location faster, because of the invention of the airplane.

Just like these famous inventors, the inventive spirit lives within everyone. National Inventors Month is the perfect time to take the opportunity to further explore your invention ideas. Who knows, one day we might be writing a blog about how YOUR invention changed the world. But, you’ll never know if you don’t dare to invent with Davison!

Happy National Inventors Month!

Copyright Davison 2014



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Join in on the Fun of National Kid Inventors’ Day

Let it be known that inventors are not always adults. In fact, things such as ear muffs, trampolines, popsicles and water skis are just a few inventions that were created by kids!

January 17 is National Kid Inventors’ Day and we wanted to talk about how this day came to be and why encouraging kids to use their imaginations and creativity towards inventing is a great idea!

The basis of this holiday is to acknowledge the past and present accomplishments of kid inventors and, additionally, to encourage the creativity of future kid inventors.

So, what exactly is the significance of January 17? Well, this was the birthday of famous inventor Benjamin Franklin, who was born in 1706. While Franklin is best known for his inventions, like the bifocal glasses among various others, at the age of 12, he also invented the first swim flippers!

Although tomorrow is the national celebration of kid inventors, on November 8, 2013, we had a kid inventors’ day of sorts at our creative-design facility, Invention land, when we hosted an event that was sponsored by WQED’s Design Lives Here. At the event, middle school students from across the Pittsburgh region participated in four different inventing activities, such as the Speedy Shelter, Zip Line, Paddle Power and Invention Challenge. Through their participation in the 2013 Invention Convention, the students were given a chance to exercise their creativity and ingenuity through S.T.E.M (science, technology, engineering and math).

Despite the fact that every day is a great day to inspire your kids to be creative and exercise their imaginations, tomorrow, in particular, is the perfect time to give them a boost.

Here are a few tips and ideas to motivate your kids to think outside of the box and use their imaginations!

  • Sit down with your kids, give them a blank piece of paper and let them brainstorm and dream up their ideas for inventions. Ask them questions about their inventions to spur their creativity.
  • Help your kids make a prototype of the invention. Now, this doesn’t have to be the most extensive prototype. Rather, gather objects from around the house and work with your child to turn an idea from their imagination into a tangible prototype.
  • Just like at Davison when we challenge inventors to “Dare to Invent,” encourage your child to enter their invention into a science fair or contest. This will not only motivate them to put their best foot forward, but it will also give them experience in communication by presenting and explaining their project to others.

National Kid Inventors’ Day shines a light on just how important kids can be in the invention of new products. Be your child’s biggest advocate and encourage them to follow their dreams, no matter how big or how small they may be!

Copyright Davison 2014




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A Deeper Look at 3 Chance Inventions

Inventions can sometimes be methodically planned and inventors cover every base and leave no stone unturned in order to bring their ideas to fruition. However, sometimes the most popular and well-known inventions weren’t intentional. In fact, they were invented through a sort of “ah-ha” moment.

Back in March of this year, we wrote a blog about products that were accidentally invented, so this time around, we wanted to take a deeper look at these inventions and more!

Common inventions like potato chips, Post-its and Silly Putty were accidentally invented, and these accidents have literally satisfied our appetites and figuratively satiated our hunger for creativity.

Potato Chips- They can be kettle cooked, baked or ruffled and their flavors can range from sour cream and onion to salt and vinegar. Potato chips come in all shapes, sizes and flavors, but before 1853, they did not exist.

The fried potato was first introduced in the United States in the late 18th century by Thomas Jefferson after he came across the treat in Paris but the actual French fry is an American invention.

The potato chip was invented in 1853 by Native American, George Crum, who at the time was a chef at a Saratoga Springs, New York resort. It is rumored that a customer by the name of Cornelius Vanderbilt complained that his French fries were too thick. That’s when Crum had an idea to fry up a serving of thin potatoes and cook them until they had a crunchy and crisp texture. The dish was then dubbed, “Saratoga Chips” and quickly became a favorite. The idea of the “Saratoga Chips” is better known today as the potato chip.

The potato chip, however, was not an immediate success until the 1920s. In 1926, Mrs. Scudder began producing large quantities of potato chips that were packaged in wax paper bags. By 1938, Herman Lay began producing Lay’s potato chips and became the first successfully marketed national brand.

Now, Wise, Herr’s, UTZ and Ruffles are just a few of the many potato chip brands being sold around the United States today.

Post-its- The Post-it note was accidentally invented when Art Fry was in desperate need of a bookmark for his church hymnal that would stay in place and wouldn’t damage the book. After noticing that one of his coworkers at 3M, Dr. Spencer Silver, had already invented an adhesive in 1968 that was strong enough to easily stick to a surface without leaving a residue when repositioned, Fry decided to apply some of the adhesive along the edge of a piece of paper. The problem of finding a bookmark that stayed in place and didn’t ruin the hymnal was solved.

From this point on, Fry realized that his new “bookmark” had multi-functionality and could serve as a form of communication around the office when these “bookmarks” were used for notes on work files among other things.

After the 3M Corporation named this invention “Post-it”, production began in the late 1970s for commercial use.

Nowadays, this accidental invention has become a staple of offices, schools and homes alike, allowing people to leave notes for others or reminders for certain tasks. The Post-it brand now has more than 4,000 unique products that are sold around the world.

Silly Putty- In 1943, with the threat of a rubber shortage looming in the United States, GE engineer, James Wright, was working to invent a synthetic rubber. While combining boric acid and silicone oil, Wright accidentally invented the rubbery material, Silly Putty. With its ability to rebound almost 25 percent higher than a normal rubber ball, this “Nutty Putty” as it was originally called was soft, malleable and able to stretch without tearing.

Although it didn’t meet the criteria needed to replace rubber, Wright realized that this substance would serve another purpose; to entertain.

While at a cocktail party in 1949, Peter Hodgson, the owner of an ad agency in New Haven, Connecticut, spotted the rubbery putty being circulated among the guests. He began to observe people folding, stretching and bouncing the odd material. The ball of goo finally made its way to toy store owner, Ruth Fallgatter, who regularly produced catalogs full of toys. Hodgson approached Fallgatter and convinced her to put this putty in plastic cases and sell them in the catalog for $2 each. The putty outsold everything else that was listed other than a set of 50-cent Crayola crayons.

After a full year of sales, Fallgatter decided to stop selling the putty and Hodgson took over. He gathered a group of Yale students and had them separate the putty into one ounce balls and placed them into individual red plastic eggs. This is the same packaging that we see today.

In 1950, he took his product to the International Toy Fair in New York. A writer caught wind of this new invention and wrote an article in the “Talk of the Town” and sales for Silly Putty began to pour in.

At the time of Hodgson’s death in 1976, Silly Putty was being sold throughout the U.S. and in 22 other countries with annual sales exceeding $5 million.

To this day, this accidental invention of Silly Putty continues to entertain both adults and children around the world.

Whether you are eating the crunchy invention of potato chips, leaving a reminder on a Post-it note for a coworker or stretching out a ball of Silly Putty, one thing is certain is that these accidental inventions have captivated people all over the world.

Copyright Davison 2013






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The History of the Roller Coaster

We have all been there one time or another; you are safely buckled into your seat as you slowly start to climb what seems to be a never ending incline only to drop at fast rate of speed through dips, twists and turns.

People all around the world have been enjoying the thrills of roller coasters whether they are big or small for quite some time.

The oldest roller coaster dates back to the so-called “Russian Mountains,” which were specifically constructed hills of ice that were located around Saint Petersburg, Russia.

These slides were invented in the 17th century and became very popular with the Russian upper class. In fact, Catherine II of Russia was such a fan of this idea that she had a few built on her own property.

There are disputes regarding when wheels were added to the carts for year-round operation. Some believe that the roller coaster was built under the orders of James the 3rd in the Gardens of Oreinbaum in St. Petersburg in 1784. Other historians, however, believe that the first roller coaster was built by the French.

Les Montagnes Russes à Belleville (The Russian Mountains of Belleville) was constructed in Paris in 1812 and the Promenades Aeriennes both featured wheeled cars securely locked to the track, guide rails to keep them on course, and higher speeds.

The idea for this invention known as the roller coaster began in Europe. However, a primitive kind of roller coaster was unintentionally being invented in the state of Pennsylvania.

Near the town of Mauch Chunk, a short railroad line transported coal from the top of Mount Pisgah to the canal in the valley below. Initially, mules would draw the empty cars up the slope of the mountain and then board a special car. Once the coal was loaded, the mule train would coast down the slope toward the canal. At the time, this railway was known as a switchback and was in operation until the mine was closed in the 1870s.

The abandoned railway was then converted into a railroad of enjoyment.  The switchback railway gained popularity and in 1873, the notion to sell the idea was put in order and around 35,000 passengers paid a fee of five cents per ride. This railway carried passengers until 1938.

However, the ride that we know today was later developed and designed based on the Mauch Chunk Switchback Railway in the United States by inventor and “father of the roller coaster”, Marcus Thompson.  He was assisted by fellow inventor, John A. Miller, the “Thomas Edison of the roller coaster”.

Miller earned more than 100 patents related to coaster technology and rider safety. Thompson, however, was generally credited with having invented the United States’ first roller coaster in 1884, at a park in Coney Island, New York. Thompson built a 450-foot steel and wood track on which the cars moved at six miles per hour.  Additionally, Thompson patented his idea for the “Roller Coasting Structure” in 1885.

Aside from Thompson and Miller’s work on their version of the roller coaster, there were also a number of early roller coaster patents, both switchback and circular that date back as far as 1872. Despite these claims of Thompson and Miller bringing the idea of the roller coaster to life in Coney Island, historians believe that inventor, John G. Taylor, of Baltimore was issued one of the first patents.

In order to stay competitive, La Marcus Thompson continued to make improvements and build larger rides. From 1884 to 1887, Thompson was granted thirty patents, which all lead to the advancement of the gravity ride.

From the original idea of the roller coaster that was conceived in Russia to the invention of the first roller coaster in America, the history of this ride has had its “ups and downs” but we can credit the ingenuity of these great inventors for giving us a thrilling and exciting ride known as the roller coaster.

Copyright Davison 2013





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Cutting the Cord with Smarter TV’s

Big name brands are starting to cut the cord with their new inventions. Companies like Apple, Roku and more recently, Google have all created a piece of hand-held technology that streams online media through Wi-Fi straight to your television screen.

Although we used to enjoy our TV a la carte, these new inventions are paving the way to condense our wanted technology into the palms of our hands.

That is why each of these companies is capitalizing on this need and has created their own type of wireless device.

Let’s take a look at Apple TV, the Roku 3 and Chromecast and see what each of these devices offer to the consumer.

Apple TV– easily connects to an HDTV via the HDMI port which automatically detects your wireless connection. Apple TV also can stream content from other Apple inventions. In addition, Apple TV features AirPlay which allows the user to stream music, videos and photos directly from an iOS device. Built into the device is AirPlay Mirroring that is incorporated into the Mountain Lion operating system that makes it possible for the user to stream anything on their computer’s screen wirelessly to their TV.

Roku 3– this small-media player allows the user to stream their internet content straight to their larger device by way of a built-in Wi-Fi connection that doesn’t require the use of a power cord. This gadget works independently and does not need a tablet or computer in order for it to work. In addition, the Roku 3 comes with a remote that controls the online video and music apps, which Roku dubs as their “channels”. The remote for the Roku 3 has a special feature that allows the user to plug their headphones into a headphone jack which mutes the main external audio and transfers the sounds directly to the headphones.

Chromecast– Google now has an invention that might rival Apple TV; this small dongle device connects directly to the HDMI port on an HDTV and allows users to stream TV shows, movies and anything that comes from the Chrome browser, right to their TV. Unlike Apple TV, Chromecast streams its media from the cloud rather than a mobile device itself. Google noted that streaming from the cloud had less of an impact on battery life and allowed for higher-quality streaming.  Google touts that the Chromecast has the capability to stream across multiple operating systems (Android or Apples iOS).

All three of these inventions and their inventors continue to invent solutions that allow us to cut the cord between different technologies. In this instance, Apple, Roku and Google have all created a device that allows the consumer to wirelessly stream their internet content straight to their television.

Copyright Davison 2013



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Travel Wednesday: Arizona – Home of the Personal Watercraft

Arizona is home to the Mojave, Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts. But this dry, sometimes desolate terrain is the birthplace of one of the most jubilant inventions to ever grace a body of water – the personal watercraft.

Remember the days of having to share a boating experience with an annoying relative or work colleague? No. You probably don’t. Because in 1965, a banker by the name of Clayton Jacobsen II bestowed us with the ultimate in water recreational freedom, eliminating the need to ever again have to force small talk while boating.

According to “The invention of both major types of PWC [personal watercraft] is usually credited to Clayton Jacobsen II of Arizona, originally a motocross enthusiast. The general public was introduced to such vehicles with the mass-marketing of Kawasaki’s Jet Ski® in 1973. The original stand-up model, with a powerful 400cc engine and handlebar steering, allowed a person to virtually water-ski without the need of a boat. However, staying aboard the device was a challenge, especially in choppy water; so for some years, despite improvements in control and stability, PWCs acquired a very loyal but also fairly limited following.”

There are a lot of beautiful cities to visit in Arizona, but we think the biggest bang for your buck is Lake Havasu City. Where else can you celebrate Jacobsen’s invention on over 30 square miles of pristine water surface while taking in some flavor from across the pond?

Your fist stop in Lake Havasu should be the London Bridge. We know it sounds weird, but the London Bridge was relocated from the River Thames in London in 1967. After two years and $7 million dollars, the London Bridge was reassembled in Lake Havasu over a man-made canal. After admiring some British engineering with your mates, it’s time hit the water Jacobsen style. Located at 507 English Village under the London Bridge, Adventure Center rentals is your source for fun on Lake Havasu.

After enjoying an activity so distinctly American, as selfish boating tends to be, why not grab some of the best American fare Lake Havasu has to offer? Place to Be at 171 Swanson Ave. has a splendid mix of American comfort food as well as re-imagined classics.

For a brief time in American history, let’s call it 1995, Lake Havasu was home to MTV’s annual spring break festivities. So while you don’t have to guzzle light beers,  dance around with Eric Nies or do a back-flip off a pontoon boat, it would behoove you to sample some of Lake Havasu’s engaging nightlife. Try Kokomo Havasu for a raucous good time or for a more relaxing time try Sandbar & Grill, 1340 McCulloch Blvd N Lake Havasu City.

Any way you cut it, you’re going to have a good time slicing through the wake of everything Lake Havasu has to offer. Just remember to tip your glass in memory of Clayton Jacobsen.



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Validating – 29 Ways to Stay Creative

think creativeWe all believe a lot of what we read. Whether it’s in a newspaper or online, there’s something appealing about the published word.

The following list of 29 ways to stay creative has been floating around the Internet. And, it is pretty good, but who validates the efficacy of the tips? We do, while adding some of our own ideas with the help of credible sources (They have to be credible, they’re on the Internet).

1.) Make lists: Based on the fact that VH1 still exists, America loves lists. Here’s why.

2.) Carry a notebook everywhere: Garry Keller, co-founder of Keller Williams agrees.

3.) Try free writing: Like your English 101 professor made you do.

4.) Get away from the computer: And your smartphone, and your tablet and text messaging.

5.) Quit beating yourself up

6.) Take breaks: They’re right, according to Science.

7.) Sing in the shower: We don’t know if this makes you more creative, but you sound like it.

8.) Drink coffee: Or just go to a coffee shop and drink water.

9.) Listen to new music: Listen to a genre of music you’ve never heard before.

10.) Be open: This tip seems pretty obvious.

11.) Surround yourself with creative people: It worked in Zurich in 1916.

12.) Get feedback

13.) Don’t give up

14.) Practice, practice, practice: For only 10,000 hours!

15.) Allow yourself to make mistakes

16.) Go somewhere new: OR just take a new route to work.

17.) Count your blessings

18.) Get lots of rest: Or step away from your workspace, and read four pages from a book that brings you delight.

19.) Take risks: Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City suggests a biological explanation for why certain people tend to live life on the edge — it involves the neurotransmitter dopamine, the brain’s feel-good chemical. –

20.) Break the rules: This tip seems as trite as “thinking outside of the box.” But for the sake of consistency.

21.) Don’t force it

22.) Read a page of the dictionary

23.) Create a framework: But first, find out what a framework is.

24.) Stop trying to be someone else’s perfect: This goes without saying. But Daniel Craig’s approval would be nice.

25.) Got an idea? Write it down: See number 2.

26.) Clean your workspace: Unless you are Al Gore.

27.) Have fun: We definitely have fun.

28.) Finish something: Finishing is tough. Here’s some help.

29.) Collaborate: See number 11.

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Defiant Design: The Wright Brothers’ First Flight Flew Above Criticism

At Davison, we encourage people with ideas to pursue their dreams and create … A Better Way.

Inventing is no easy task, and there are many hurdles standing in the way of budding creators — oftentimes a naysayer.

wright brothers first airplane flight

Overcoming negative reactions to your idea can be difficult. But the Wright brothers didn’t let Thomas Edison (arguably one of the greatest inventors of all time) crush their dream and neither should your clients and their ideas.

In 1895, Thomas Edison was quoted in the New York World, saying “It is apparent to me that the possibilities of the aeroplane, which two or three years ago were thought to hold the solution to the [flying machine] problem, have been exhausted, and that we must turn elsewhere.”

Less than ten years later, the brothers defied one of the most intelligent men in the United States, if not the world, and made two flights from level ground into a headwind gusting to 27 miles per hour (43 km/h).

Orville WrightWilbur Wright

The first flight, by Orville, of 120 feet (37 m) in 12 seconds, at a speed of only 6.8 miles per hour (10.9 km/h) over the ground, was recorded in a famous photograph. The next two flights covered approximately 175 feet (53 m) and 200 feet (61 m), by Wilbur and Orville respectively. Their altitude was about 10 feet (3.0 m) above the ground.


Proof Positive

– The National Air Traffic Controllers Association says that there are, on average, between 25,000 and 30,000 passenger flights in the United States per day.

– The Boeing Company earned 68735.00 M in revenue for 2011, according to Yahoo!

– According to the annual Amadeus Review of Ancillary Revenue Results, 50 airlines from around the world reported making $22.6 billion in fees alone (checked baggage, priority boarding, etc…)

– This website exists.


So, don’t let anybody tell you that your idea can’t, won’t or shouldn’t succeed. And let Davison help you find a better way.

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Nigeria Gets Kids Off the Couch & Inventing

“You watch too much TV!”

We all grew up hearing authority figures and parents scold us for inactivity. Well, Nigeria is doing something about their entertainment-obsessed youths.

According to a recent article posted on The Guardian online, “Over 75 percent of Nigerian children now spend most of their time watching movies …”

So Lagos – the most populated city in Nigeria at nearly 8 million – partnered with Kids Invent! — the world’s leading provider of innovation-based kids science activities that stimulate the creative interests and abilities of children ages 7 to 15. According to the article, around 300 kids participated in the invention programs, which consisted of a 5-day camp where children were encouraged to invent toys and even price their inventions for the market.

“There is a huge gap in the kids in our country today, but with this trademark program, we can tap into the lives of every innovative and creative children,” Emma Okoro – managing director of the group – told The Guardian.

Co-creator and Group Managing Director of Kids Invent!, Prof. Ed Sobey argues that kids learn best when they are creatively engaged. He noted that Kids Invent! activities are appropriate for schools, after school programs, home schools, summer camps, museums, and wherever kids are eager to experience hands-on, innovative learning.

Kids Invent! was created by Professors Ed Sobey and Timothy M. Stearns, who developed the first Kids Invent! summer camp as an outreach program for California State University in Fresno.

Davison applauds all activities that promote education and get children off the couch and creating! Here’s to hoping that more countries, including the United States, realize the importance of early education in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields.

(Recently, a group of students visited Inventionland as a project aimed to garner interest in STEM. Read about it here.)

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