10 Accidental Discoveries That Made People Rich

Diesel Accidental Discoveries That Made People Rich

Hard work is essential to becoming rich and successful. However, luck also has an important role to play. Some of the world’s richest entrepreneurs owe their success to sheer luck. Their greatest discoveries although accidental, are vital to our daily life.

So here’s a list of  10 accidental discoveries that made people rich:

#1 Super Glue

If it weren’t for American chemist Harry Coover, we wouldn’t know what superglue is. This product that seems to stick just about anything together was accidentally discovered while Coover and his research team at Eastman Kodak were searching for materials to make plastic gun sights.
In 1985, superglue became a commercial product and generated up to $2.5 billion in sales growth. Today it’s even applied in health and electronics.

#2 Penicillin

One of the greatest antibacterial drugs in the world, penicillin, was discovered by chance in 1928. When Scottish biologist Alexander Fleming returned to his house after being on vacation he found a dirty dish he left while working in his lab investigating staphylococci full of bacteria and mold. At that moment he realised that the mold can actually kill bacteria, and the modern era of antibiotics as we know it was created.

#3 Post-It Notes 

The colourful post-it notes that we use every day were also discovered by chance. In 1973, when chemist Spencer Silver announced his idea to create a type of tape that could be used on paper to the rest of the team at 3M, he wasn’t quite aware of the possibilities of creating a tape-paper bookmark product.
It was Arthur Fry’s - his employee’s - idea to create something out of the paper so that it could be used as a bookmark note. While singing in his church choir he noticed that what he needed was something to hold his scrap paper in his hymnbook that kept falling. And voila, post-it notes were created. Today up to 6 billion post-it notes are sold every year.

#4 Play-Doh

The original Play-Doh wasn’t intended to be a kid’s toy. Cleo McVicker was working at Kutol, the company that created the Play-Doh substance that was considered to be a non-toxic wallpaper cleaner for twenty-two years. When this cleaning product was given to kids at a nursery school, they loved it and McVicker realised it could be patented as children’s toy.
McVicker established Rainbow Crafts and promoted Play-Doh as a commercial product. He made campaigns to get it out in the market and within just four years he managed to make up to $3 million from sales.

#5 The Microwave

No one can argue that the microwave has been one of the greatest inventions ever. Since 1945, this product has made food preparation easier and quicker.
However, if it wasn’t for American engineer Percy Spencer who discovered that magnetron could melt food (chocolate) while experimenting on an enemy-plane detector, we wouldn’t have microwaves at all. Since the discovery, the product has helped Raytheon to turn over up to $25 billion in profit.

#6 Plastic


‘The material of a thousand uses’ as plastic was referred to in 1910, was perhaps the biggest accidental discovery of all time. Leo Baekeland created the first plastic material while searching for a replacement for the shellac that was found in beetles. However, he eventually realised he could mix phenol and formaldehyde to achieve his goal. The result of this mixture was the first modern plastic produced known as Bakelite.

#7 Coca-Cola

The world’s most popular drink Coca-Cola, was originally intended to be a drink that cured headaches. John Pemberton thought that coca leaves and cola nuts would be the two ingredients that would create the perfect ‘brain tonic’.
The drink we enjoy today, however, was created after Pemberton’s assistant accidently mixed carbonated water together with those two ingredients. Thank God he did, right?

#8 Vaseline

In 1859, Chemist Robert Chesebrough was working on an oil well when he discovered a sticky substance called ‘road wax’. When he took a sample home he realised that with it he was able to create a usable petroleum jelly that he could sell as treatment substance. By 1911, Chesebrough had opened his own business and factories across Europe, Africa and Canada generating more than $75 million.

#9 Matches

It is, British pharmacist; John Walker realised he could generate sparks and flames by scraping a dried lump he found on a stick he was using to stir a mix of chemicals. Originally he called his discovery “Friction Lights” and sold the product at his pharmacy. Since Walker didn’t patent his invention, other more business-minded people got his idea and took over the market.

#10 Popsicles  

A rather interesting story about popsicles dates back to 1905 when Frank Epperson was still a teenager. Little did he know that within a night he would have made the biggest discovery in his life with the so-called ‘ice lollipop’ after leaving a mixture of soda powder and water in a glass and a stirring stick out in the cold. Out of this product, 20 years later Epperson managed to receive royalties on more than 60 million sales.

See Also: Top 10 Ways to Become Rich

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Who would have ever thought that the most accidental discoveries and inventions were to be – the most successful? As you can see, even the clumsiest accidents can lead to the most brilliant business ideas and have the power to change lives.

Are you aware of any other product-discoveries that should have been included in this list? Let me know in the comments section below…