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Business - July 1, 2022

5 Inventors Who did not Make Billions from their Inventions

Throughout the world, one of the best ways of generating billions of revenue is through inventions, especially in a new market. This way, many innovators have gained a fortune.

Although some inventors have built great generational wealth through this means, some have not moved up the financial ladder. This is because, at times, generating money from an ingenious idea can be difficult.

Although it is challenging to make enormous wealth from an invention, some are due to a lack of funds or stolen ideas. Let’s look at a few inventors who did not rake in billions from their inventions.

Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov – AK-47

Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov, a Soviet Army soldier, created the legendary AK-47 in 1947. The rifle’s name, ‘AK-47’, stands for Avtomat Kalashnikova and 1947. ‘Avtomat’ is the Russian word for ‘automatic.’ Ak-47, therefore, means ‘automatic Kalashnikov’. Kalashnikov invented the rifle while recuperating in a hospital during World War Two.

The weapon serves as the first brand of the Kalashnikov’s (or “AK”) rifles. From 1947 to date, the AK-47 and its different brands are still one of the world’s most popular and often used guns.

Despite being one of the most used in the world, the name Kalashnikov is not on the list of the wealthiest people in the world.

Nick Holonyak – LEDs

In 1962, Nick Holonyak, Jr., an American scientist and engineer, invented the light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

He also created the shorted emitter p-n-p-n switch, which is used in power equipment and light dimmers, and the red-light semiconductor laser found in CDs, DVDs, and mobile phones.

LEDs are one of the most popular bulbs in use today. Holonyak foresaw this in the 1990s. He predicted that LEDs would eventually substitute the lightbulb. Despite being right in his predictions, he did not become a billionaire from his inventions.

Daisuke Inoue – Karaoke machines

Thanks to Inuoue’s Karaoke machines, people get to have karaoke nights. The device was created by music enthusiast Daisuke Inoue to enable singing without live performance.

When Inoue was asked on a business trip that he could not afford, the idea for Karaoke, which in Japanese means “empty orchestra,” was born. With its popularity, he started renting it to bars in 1971.

However, he did not benefit much from his invention as he did not patent it. Although not wealthy, he was listed as one of Time magazine’s “Most Influential Asians of the Century” in 1999 and 2005. A Japanese biographical film was made in his honour.


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Karlheinz Brandenburg – MP3

MP3, a coding system for compressing digital audio data, was developed by German electrical engineer and mathematician Karlheinz Brandenburg.

He began working on it in 1980, but because there was no funding for software distribution, it was promoted as shareware.

The MP3 swiftly established itself as the industry standard for online music distribution. The MP3 swiftly established itself as the industry standard for online music distribution. He invented MP3 together with Ernst Eberlein, Heinz Gerhäuser, Bernhard Grill, Jürgen Herre and Harald Popp.

Tim Berners-Lee – World Wide Web

To aid researchers at the Cern European Research Centre, Tim Berners-Lee built the World Wide Web. His invention is considered the best information retrieval on the internet.

The invention gives users access to a wide collection of papers linked to one another via hypertext or hypermedia links. This provides quick access to related pieces of information.

He claims that making the innovation publicly available was the key to its quick success. It is understandable why he did not make billions from his inventions.


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