Thursday, June 13, 2024

10 Inventors Killed By Their Own Inventions

Brilliant minds of many inventors shaped the word as we know it. People have come up with amazing ideas that would go on to become used and praised worldwide. Inventions such as cars, planes, computers and others are some of the most incredible products that are mass produced today. And it all started with a simple idea… Inventors of such products are usually wealthy and powerful people (think Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, etc.).

However, not all inventors lived long enough to claim their fame and money. Some of them were, ironically, killed while using their own inventions. Today we’re taking a look at 10 people who are no longer alive thanks to products they’ve come up with! If this is a little to dark for your liking, we also have a more light hearted article covering 10 of the most clever inventions ever conceived as well!

10) Frederick Duesenberg

Frederick-Duesenberg Frederick and his brother August founded a car company that they’ve named using their surname – Duesenberg. Duesenberg was founded in 1913, and was producing higher-class sports cars. Their company was making each car manually, and so-called “Duesy” cars were considered some of the best cars in the world during their existence. However, that didn’t help Frederick when he was flooring a Duesy on the Lincoln Highway. Due to high speeds, his car turned itself over and badly wounded the driver. Frederick Duesenberg died 23 days after the accident, due to injuries he sustained from it. Duesenberg stopped their car production 5 years after the accident, in 1937.


9) Ismail al-Jawhari

Ismail a-Jawhari is known as the author of “The Correct Language” Arabic dictionary, that featured around 40,000 entries. He is also known for attempting to fly in circa 1003, when attempted it using wooden wings and a rope. During his first (and only) flight attempt, he tried to leap off a mosque in Nishapur so that his invention would make him fly. Unfortunately, it was an unsuccessful attempt, and Ismail died by falling on the ground from the top of the mosque.


8) Franz Reichelt

franz-reinhelt Similar to al-Jawhari, Franz Reichelt also wanted to leap from tall buildings. However, unlike al-Jawhari who wanted to fly, Reichelt wanted to land safely using a parachute prototype. He was a tailor by profession and assumed that his hand-made parachute would be good enough to glide him to safety. Franz Reichelt, today known as the Flying Tailor, jumped from the Eiffel Tower in 1912, with his invention strapped to his back. Prior to that, he had several attempts where he used dummies, and they were successful. However, his attempt wasn’t. His parachute failed to deploy and he took a hard fall that left him dead at the spot.


7) William Bullock

William Bullock was an American inventor who lived during the 19th century. His most notable invention is the rotary printing press, that greatly increased the speed and efficiency of printing. During his career, he submitted 5 patents to the US patent office, one of which would end him. During an installation of the above-mentioned printing press, Bullock accidentally crushed his toe and contracted gangrene. He died during the amputation of his infected leg.


6) Thomas Midgley Jr.

Thomas Midgley Junior was an American mechanical engineer, inventor and a chemist. During the course of his career, he patented over a hundred products, and made important discoveries in chemistry. He is known for being one of the most important members of the team who developed tetraethyllead and chlorofluorocarbons. In 1940 he contracted polio which left him partially disabled and pinned to his bed. As an attempt to help patients (including himself) to lift up from a bed, he devised a system of ropes and strings that would make it easier for them to sit up. However, four years later he got tangled in the strings and ended up being strangled by them.


5) Alexandar Bogdanov

alexandar-bogdanov Alexandar Bogdanov was a (you guessed it) Russian philosopher, writer and a revolutionary mind. Born in 1873, he would become an important figure in the Bolshevik faction, and a rival to Vladimir Lenin. Oh and he was also trying to achieve eternal youth by using blood transfusion. He sincerely believed that he could achieve it, at least partially, and decided to be the test subject. Unfortunately for him, the blood he took was from a student infected with malaria and tuberculosis. The transfusion attempt killed Mr. Bogdanov in 1928.



4) Marie Curie

Marie Sklodowska Curie was famous for being both a renowned physicist and a chemist. Her research on radioactivity was, and still is, of great importance, and she was the first woman to ever win the Nobel Prize award. Oh yeah, she also won it twice. During her time (19th-20th century), the harmful effects of radiation weren’t as known as they are today, so she spent many years exposed to radioactive test tubes she carried around. She died from aplastic anemia caused by radioactive exposure. While she technically didn’t invent radiation, she was a arguably the most important person in the field, so we’re listing her in this list. Even today, her personal items such as her notebook, are too radioactive for anyone to handle without protection.


3) Karel Soucek

karel-soucek Karel Soucek was a professional stuntman who died while performing his job. He is best known for successfully going down the Niagra Falls in a barrel in 1984. Soucek invested $45,000 into the stunt, but made it back easily after gaining mass popularity. A year after that, he tested his new invention, a shock-absorbent barrel, by dropping in it from the roof of the Houston Astrodome. Unfortunately, the barrel didn’t land in a water tank where it was supposed to. It missed and hit the rim, leaving Karl Soucek fatally wounded. He did manage to get out of the barrel, but died shortly after.


2) Li Si

Li Si was the today’s equivalent of a Prime Minister in the Qin Dynasty from 246 BC until his death in 208 BC. Li Si is called one of the two most important figure in the Chinese history, because of his governmental skills that made Qin Dynasty extremely powerful. Unlike other people from this list who invented a product, Li Si invented a certain torture and execution method known as the Five Punishments. And sure enough, he died after his own torturing method was executed on him. The method included tattooing, cutting the nose without an anesthetic, amputation of one or both feet, castration, and finally – death. The last punishment was performed using various methods such as boiling the offender alive, cutting his body into four pieces, slowly slicing it, and more.


1) Max Valier

max-vailer Max Valier was an  Australian pioneer in the rocketry industry who invented an alcohol-fueled rocket that would kill him during the initial test. He helped the founding of the Society for Space Travel association in Germany, that would one day make space flight a reality. Along with Fritz von Opel (the car manufacturer founder), he started working on liquid-powered cars and rockets. During a test of such a rocket in Berlin, Valier was killed. A rocket he was testing that day exploded and instantly killed its inventor.



Honorable Mentions:

  • Michael Dacre, who died in 2009 during the test of his flying taxi device known as AVCEN Jetpod.
  • Auriel Valicu, an airplane constructor died from a crash that happened while he was piloting his own, hand-made aircraft.
  • Horace Hunly and several crew members drowned after a failed test of his combat submarine, the first one in the world.
  • Jim Fixx, the author of The Complete Book of Running died from a sudden heart attack, caused by one of his daily jogging routines.
  • Segway Inc. CEO, Jimi Heselden, died after driving his Segway off a cliff into his deathž

If you’re interested in more unusual deaths, you should go ahead and read our Top 10 Most Unusual, Bizarre & Weird Human Deaths list! If you think we should add some additional honorable mentions to this list let us know in the comment section below!


Part-time freelancer, part-time procrastinator. Interested in all things tech, cryptocurrency, fitness and drinking copious amounts of coffee.


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