Amazing Inventions Created During the Worst Times
John Rizvi - patent attorney

Innovations During Times of Crisis

As a virus spreads fear, others find inspiration in adversity.

It’s almost impossible to watch anything on TV or browse any site online without seeing constant reporting on COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus. The news of this pandemic has left grocery store’s shelves depleted, virtually all major events postponed, and crippling fear amongst every nation.

Small businesses are suffering, stocks are plummeting, and no one knows what to do or what’s to come. Here at The Patent Professor ® our personal and clients’ well-being remains our top priority. We’ve been following CDC’s guidelines to ensure we’re staying safe.

We hope you are, too. Remember to wash your hands, sanitize everything, and stay home if you’re not feeling well.


Quite frankly, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit shaken up by the widespread of COVID-19, but I’ve been around for my fair share of scares, and the state of emergency we’re in feels familiar. 


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I’m sure you recall the fake Y2K crisis in 1999, the massive Anthrax scare in 2001, and the SARS virus in 2003. I’ve been through all that and remember the world in a state of extreme hysteria! But sprinkled amongst the fearful are always a few visionaries who push through and do what they do best – invent.  

Earth Mask

I’m encouraging you to keep pushing through and to keep on inventing. I know that most of the challenges which inventors face usually aren’t due to a virus outbreak, so understanding how to navigate through this time is a challenge within itself. That’s why I want to share stories of when great inventions were created amid bad times.   


According to a New York Times blog, times like this can “provide a powerful stimulus for entrepreneurship.” Back in 1989, some of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. were started between 1981 – 1983; this is while the U.S. was hit by two recessions.  


In fact, many even credited their bold business ventures due to the loss of employment or fear of precarious jobs.   


It’s times when problems occur that solutions can arise, hence why this is one of the best times for you to be inventing.


As consumers’ needs change and the demands of businesses shift, your job as an inventor is to see how you can create the next new problem solver.  


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Inventions make the world better during hard times, like when the iPod was created less than two months after the September 11th attacks. Apple introduced us to the tiny, portable music device and transformed the consumer electronics industry.   

And then there’s the game of basketball. Invented in 1881 by Dr. James Naismith to keep athletes inside during the cold, basketball was previously played with a soccer ball. During the recession in 1894, Dr. Naismith asked A.G. Spalding to create something specifically designed for basketball. 

You can also credit the Black Death pandemic for giving us one of the world’s most notorious universal laws, the law of gravity. In 1665, the Bubonic plague in England forced Cambridge University to shut down, leaving Isaac Newton (before he was a Sir) to return back home to Woolsthorpe Manor.

The rest is history, as you know. Newton was sitting in his garden when he saw an apple fall from a tree, which provided his inspiration to create his law of universal gravitation.  

Newton

And there you have it, just some of the times when greatness was sparked out of periods of crises.


Hopefully, I was able to take your mind off of the unfortunate situation affecting the world right now, and encourage you to keep pushing and keep creating. 


The world is depending on your bravery, optimism, and creativity! 

I leave you with this quote from Mary Shelley, an English novelist, “Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos.”

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