Million Dollar Ideas Invented Today

Nothing says “American Dream” like an invention. Just about anyone can find a need and fill it, crafting a prototype in their kitchen and applying for a patent. If the invention gets funded and takes off, the next thing you know that inventor is on top.

As Americans, we love inventors. We learn about Benjamin Franklin and George Washington Carver in school, and we venerate the great minds that were able to dream up the objects we use every day. Historically, August 12th, has been a great day for inventions.

On this day in 1851, Isaac Singer was issued a patent on the appliance that still bears his name – the sewing machine. 26 years later, Thomas Edison made and played the very first sound recording on the phonograph, launching what has become several billion dollar industries. And speaking of billion dollar industries, it was on this day in 1981 that IBM unveiled the first personal computer.

It’s amazing – you can swear up and down that everything’s already been invented, and one episode of Shark Tank later, your mind is blown. Today, most of our biggest inventions are about sustainability: protecting the environment, eliminating waste, or saving space and materials. Inventions like these bricks made from recycled plastic are changing the housing industry, as well as reducing the plastic waste in our oceans.


Some inventions are a modern take on an old classic. While tiny, locally built houses were the standard for thousands of years, most of us don’t live in huts insulated with sheep’s wool. But these tiny houses are a revelation – combining modern marvels like solar power and water recycling to create a fully sustainable, locally-made home.


It’s hard to know what will stick and what will be a flash in the pan. Take this 2014 Time Magazine article: some of the listed inventions have gone on to be huge household sellers in the past few years, such as hoverboards, the Surface Pro, and the Apple Watch. But others, like ‘Ringly’ smart-jewelry and wireless charging haven’t quite caught on.

As we all try to think of the next big thing, as we hope that we too might have a stroke of genius that becomes the world’s next great invention, I’m reminded of a joke:

An inventor goes to the patent office, sees the patent officer and says:
“I’ve got an invention; it’s a folding bottle. I call it a fottle, get it? – folding bottle – fottle.”
“Very nice, sir,” the patent officer says. “Do you have any other inventions?”
“Yes, I do. I also have a folding carton; I call it a farton,” replies the inventor.
“I’m sorry, sir,” the officer says, “but that is an inappropriate name; it’s disgusting.”
“Oh,” groans the inventor, “then I guess you wouldn’t be interested in my folding bucket.”

Have an ingenious weekend,