Written by Jonny Williamson
Originally invented as wallpaper cleaner during the 1930s, the brand remarketed itself when school children were found to be using the pliable compound as a substitute for modelling clay in the mid-1950s. Nowadays Play-Doh produces almost 100 million cans a year and is sold in over 70 countries across the globe.
Created over half a century ago as a way of repelling water and preventing corrosion, it became apparent that ‘Water Displacement-40th Attempt’ had far more industrial and domestic uses. More than 150 countries now use the spray as a means of lubrication, loosening joints, hinges, bolts and screws, as well as removing dirt and grime.
8. Cyanoacrylate Adhesives
Cyanoacrylates were developed during experiments to produce a transparent plastic specifically for use in gun sights, but were found to be unsuitable. Able to join many materials together quickly and with tremendous strength, they were marketed as a new form of adhesive, later becoming more commonly known as ‘super glue’.
Pistols designed as a way for forestry personnel and rangers to quickly mark trees and cattle have evolved into what into what has become the popular sport of paintball. Leagues and national tournaments have helped drive the sport’s acceptance, proving popular for both corporate team-building and more personal events such as birthdays and stag-do’s.
A researcher working for a sealant manufacturer inadvertently created the re-usable putty that struggled to find a market for many years. Over time, however the semi-elastic adhesive has hung many a poster on walls and doors around the world, as well as being the ideal material for sculpting and stop-motion animation.
Invented by accident, early uses for the polymer included coating the seals and valves of high pressure pipes containing volatile gases. Yet it was the combination of high heat-resistance and melting temperature, along with low friction properties, that made it an ideal coating for pans and other cookware, eventually taking Teflon global.
4. Gorilla Glass
A shelved product from a 1960s glass-strengthening programme, the toughened glass has recently been rediscovered for use in consumer electronics. The scratch-resistance, thinned glass now makes the touch screens for many HTC, Nokia and Samsung smartphones, in addition to tablets such as the Blackberry Playbook, Dell Streak and Motorola Xoom.
The facial tissues started out marketed as a disposable towel for taking off cold cream and make-up remover, a disposable alternative to face towels. Following research that some consumers were using the tissues as a handkerchief, the company shifted the advertising focus to reflect this and the global brand was born.
2. Eiffel Tower
Intended to stand for only 20 years, the Tower was erected as an entrance to the 1889 World Fair; marking the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. Demolition was postponed thanks to its use as radio tower and since its erection almost 250 million people have visited the site, making it the most visited paid-for monument in the world.
1. SMS Text Messages
It is funny to think that a service originally used by telecomm companies to let customers know about problems with their network or inform them of voice mail messages has led to a revolution in the way society communicates. The Short Message Service ability of a mobile phone was originally limited to only 160 characters, necessitating a new form of abbreviations and slang terms known as ‘text-speak’. The text messages proved so popular, so quickly that networks didn’t have adequate systems in place to charge customers for the service. With over 5 trillion text messages now sent annually, traditional SMS messages are becoming increasingly challenged by cheaper alternative messaging services. However it was SMS that paved the way from simple text to now being able to send group messages and multimedia content such as full-colour images and video clips.