Successful Failures: 10 Mistakes-Turned-Masterpieces

by Lizzy Cheshire

Sometimes glithes are beautiful

1.Stainless Steel: Invented by Harry Brearly as he tried to invent an erosion proof metal for gun barrels. He realized that one of his failed test metals would not rust, and discovered a recipe that would change metallurgy forever.

2.Edison & Einstein: By now, some of the most famous inspiring scientists adults, teenagers, and children look up to. Both struggled immensely with school before finding success and changing the face of science forever, as I like to remind my parents a little too often.

3.Post-Its: Another famous one, Spencer Silver, their inventor fruitless attempted to market them for years, without finding a useful application for them and they were dismissed as a fun but ultimately pointless creation. It wasn’t until his colleague Art Fry began using them as a way to keep slips of paper in his Bible that they found their angle and Post-Its gained traction in the market.

4.Dye: The first ever synthetic dye was created when William Perkin’s attempt to create a cure for malaria in 1856 went very astray. He named his color mauve and dropped out of school to start a mauve-product producing factory with his father, which quickly made the family incredibly wealthy.

5.Abraham Lincoln:One of my personal favorite failure to success stories, Lincoln was defeated, rejected, fired, and suffered tremendous personal loss before being elected president, and becoming one of the most defining moments in American history, 28 years after his first run for a public office.

6.Coca Cola: One of the most famous accident-turned success in history. This drink was invented when carbonated water was mixed with a wine-free version of a headache curing syrup. The soda didn’t cure headaches, but certainly became popular. So popular intact that it is one of the most iconic logos in the world.

7.J.K. Rowling & Dr. Seuss: These two iconic and very dear authors were rejected by numerous publishing houses. Instead of giving up, they persevered and became two literary legends that have at the very least shaped the hearts of thousands of children.

8.Alison Rossiter: Where others saw a mistake, a waste, and failure, Rossiter created opportunity. Using only expired photo paper, Rossiter creates incredibly stirring images with innovative darkroom techniques. She collects film from every decade, and every brand she can.

9.Silly Putty: This strange stretchy, bouncy goo that you probably let dry into your parents favorite rug or carpet was invented by James Wright in 1943 as American scientists searched for ways to produce rubber. It was too weak to be useful and no one wanted to buy it. Two years later Peter Hodgson purchased the rights to the substance from GE (for $147) and began marketing it, turning it into one of the most popular toys in history.

10.Beethoven: “Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine.” He certainly followed his own advice. As a young student, music teachers told him he was hopeless, a lost cause. Despite his inauspicious start he became an incredibly influential composer. Then, he lost his hearing, which seems like it would put a damper on things. Not for Beethoven. He continued to compose, producing some of the most influential music in the world without being able to experience it himself.


One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.