The media coverage and face value of certain people create a lot of confusion at times, attributing to them accomplishments they either don’t deserve entirely. In certain cases, not at all. Here, we look at some such cases of credit given to or enjoyed by the wrong people. Read on.
1. Thomas Edison and the light bulb.
Thomas Alva Edison is a name we learn early on in life, and understandably so. He invented the light bulb. But, did he? See, by the time Edison had started working on the bulb, as we know it, many other people had already prepared the structure and figured out the functioning of various parts of the bulb. So, it’s not like it was his idea exclusively. What he did do, was find the right metal rod to be used in the bulb. Everything else was basically a copy of the invention of another man named Joseph Swan, who eventually found a better, more commercially viable rod.
But by then, Edison had already filed for the patent and gotten his hands on it.
2. Guglielmo Marconi and the radio.
Again, the problem with Macroni’s claim for the patent was that his invention was almost entirely based on the work of Nikola Tesla. Tesla made the ‘Tesla coil’ in 1891 and was already working on making a device to transmit radio waves when his lab burned to the ground. By the time he got back on his feet, Macroni had already started with the public display of his work (between 1895 and 1897). Macroni filed for the patent for inventing the radio and it was turned down multiple times because credit for very similar work was already given to Tesla. However, this decision was taken back, and he was declared the inventor of the radio eventually in 1904.
To be honest, it does seem fair that the person who comes up with the most practical device to use a certain technology gets the credit for its invention. However, for it to count as an ‘invention’, there has to be enough novelty in the product, which, in the case of Macroni’s radio was missing. He was using as many as 17 patents by Tesla at one point.
3. Steve Jobs for Apple.
This one is more about public perception than a legal fight. The first name that springs to mind when anyone says Apple is Steve Jobs, but it was Steve Wozniak who made the computer. If you have been down this rabbit hole, you probably know this already but for those who are uninitiated, the basic explanation is that Jobs and Wozniak had known each other for a while when the latter made a groundbreaking computer and started displaying it to firms. During one of these meetings, Jobs had a look at the computer and gauged its potential. After a lot of going back and forth, the two came together, and along with Ronald Wayne formed the Apple Computer Company in 1976.
Some day, Aaron Sorkin will take interest in the subject and write a movie about it. Till then, the internet will have to do.
4. Elon Musk and the Tesla.
Remember Nikola Tesla from the radio fiasco? Tesla, the car, is a tribute to him by the founders of the company Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. Elon Musk, like Steve Jobs, could see the potential in it from early on and invested a huge amount of money into the company. This was such a big contribution, that the company name started being associated with Musk more than its founders, which they probably don’t mind, but who knows?!
Anyway, it isn’t as simple as this. Since Musk invested very early on in the company with his investment, he became the chairman of the board of directors. Eventually, a legal battle ensued and now he is allowed to call himself the co-founder.
5. Travis Kalanick and Uber.
Uber changed our lives in more ways than one and has been widely perceived as Travis Kalanick’s idea. To the point that Kalanick himself has had to clarify that it was his co-founder Garrett Camp who came up with the concept. As per the story, Camp and his friends once spent $800 on transportation and it struck him that other people would be facing the same problem. He then thought of starting a company that would allow cars to pick and drop off multiple people at different times of the day. And that is how Uber was born.
Neither of them serves as the CEO or chairman now.
6. Steve Jobs (Apple) and the iPod.
You know, it has the famous ‘i’ in the name, so one automatically assumes this must be Apple’s invention, but it is not. A man named Kane Kramer was the actual inventor of the digital audio player. He made the device in 1979, a few years after Apple was formed. In 2008, Apple admitted to the fact that Kane was in fact the inventor of the technology behind the iPod, ironically during a legal battle with another company that wanted the credit for the invention.
Kane had made the device long before anyone else, and back then, it could store 3.5 minutes of music.
Well, now you know who made what.