Dr. Nakamats: the Greatest Inventor of All Time?

I’d say the jury is still out on that question.  But, according to the genius himself, Dr. Yoshiro Nakamatsu, there is no debate.

Dr. NakaMats is undoubtedly the most prolific inventor of all time (he does hold more than 4,000 patents), and certainly one of the more inventive creators the world has ever known (just consider his creative process, “Dr. NakaMats’ Underwater Invention Method, which includes listening to music and concludes with diving underwater, where he says he comes up with his best ideas and records them while underwater – yes, he is the creator of the first and only underwater notebook!).  But if you ask him who the best inventor of all time is, NakaMats will proudly state that he is certainly one of the top five (just ask the US Science Academic Society who sent him a plaque that ranked his name next to Archimedes, Michael Faraday, Marie Curie and Nikola Tesla).

Now that I am sure I’ve piqued your interest, aren’t you curious to learn a bit more about this great minds’ impact on the world?  After, all, if he is up there with Archimedes, NakaMats must have conceived some pretty spectacular inventions …

… well, the “Self Defense Wig” was a real game changer.  You know, it’s an invention for those times when you are walking alone down a dark street late at night, wishing you had something to keep you safe – mace, a taser, or maybe martial arts lessons? Lucky for us, the Dr. NakaMats Self-Defense Wig can protect you from any potential attackers, as long as you’re wearing the hair piece. As the patent application above shows, it’s an easy and effective tool to stopping assailants dead in their tracks; with a strip and a weight attached to the wig, the wearer only has to swing his head to hit an attacker.  Genius!

Then there are the “Pyon Pyon” shoes.  NakaMats figured out that the creator of jogging died at only 41 because of the high impact of the activity on the body.  Thus, while running is good for exercise, it is hard on the body, hmmm … (light bulb) why not put springs on the bottom of running shoes to lessen the impact?! The Pyon Pyon shoes allow you to bound across distances with the greatest of ease, or jump really high like the good doctor above is doing, and it’s all easy on the joints.  They can be yours for the low, low price of $180 on Dr. NakaMats’ site!

His house is also a den of invention, full of fake doors, a gold-plated bathroom (he claims that the gold blocks out all outside distractions), furniture of his design, extra strong glass of his creation, NakaMats floor tiles with special energy-regulating properties to keep the room’s heating and cooling to a minimum, energy-saving lights, and a showroom of all of his inventions, of course.

NakaMats’ biggest claim?  He invented the floppy disk in 1950.  And, after six of Japan’s leading corporations turned down his request to have them produce the item, he granted the sales license for the disk to IBM, which now holds the patents for sixteen of his inventions.  But, an IBM spokesman, Mac Jeffery, said that while the company does license some of his patents, the floppy disk was their own creation.  Another source has mentioned that IBM reached nonexclusive patent agreements with Nakamatsu in the late 1970s to avoid conflicts.  Tricky, tricky.

The one thing that we can all agree to say about Dr. NakaMats … he is one unique dude.

The Inventions of Dr. Nakamats, a documentary created by Kaspar Astrup Schröder, captures his spirit perfectly.  Watch it as soon as you can!

Inventor of the Day: Dr. Peter Schlumbohm

Doesn’t that name just roll off the tongue?!

Though you may not know his name, I can almost guarantee you know his greatest invention – the Chemex coffee maker. The creation is part chemist’s funnel, part Erlenmeyer flask, with a blond leather band in the middle corseting its hourglass curves. It is an iconic symbol of German modernism and simple, functional Bauhaus style.  Its success launched its inventor, Dr. Peter Schlumbohm (1896-1962), into the arms of the design establishment (the coffee maker has been a part of the MOMA’s design collection since 1944, just three years after Schlumbohm patented it), and in the early years of World War II, it was considered a patriotic alternative to products made from metals and plastics (which were essential to the war effort). A Time Magazine article from November 1946 quotes the ebullient inventor as saying, “with the Chemex, even a moron can make good coffee.”  So true.

But Schlumbohm (don’t you just love that name?!) also had some pretty excellent though lesser known inventions.  There was the disposable Instant Ice container for the man about town lugging a warm bottle of Champagne; the Tubadipdrip was a coffee and tea maker by day, and a cocktail mixer by night.  In fact, by 1949 the doctor held patents on some 300 inventions, ranging from a propane-fuelled motor to a conical garbage can, about a dozen of which were developed into successful products, and an insane amount of which are part of the MOMA collection.

Filterjet Fan

The Ice Vault

Cocktail Shaker

Fahrenheitor Cocktail Shaker

Fahrenheitor Flower Vase

Fahrenheitor Mushroom Tray Bottle Cooler

the Tubadipdrip

Conical Garbage Can

Water Kettle

Two-Gallon Coffeemaker with Ring Base

There was even a car – the Chemobile!

The Chemobile featured a wrap-around windshield. Schlumbohm described the passenger compartment, which was placed over the powertrain, as being “rather analogous to a man riding a horse or to a maharajah riding in a basket on top of an elephant.”

Kind of makes you feel a bit unproductive, huh?!


Chindogu aka Unuseless Japanese Inventions

Ever come across an utterly bizarre invention and snapped your fingers looking for the right word to describe the oddity? Have no fear, an enterprising Japanese gentlemen called Kenji Kawakami has coined an official term … Chindōgu.  Literal translation: unuseless invention.  Because if anyone actually attmpted to use one of these seeminly useful inventions, he or she would find that it causes so many new problems, or such significant social embarrassment, that effectively it has no utility whatsoever.

portable office tie

The term Chindōgu encompasses any invention which is so mind-bogglingly, ridiculously absurd that you forget about its actual practicality.  So many inventions fit into this category (especially in Japan) that Kawakami actually founded an organization dedicated to these creations.  He named it the international Chindōgu society.  Simple enough.

noodle cooler

Defining a particular gadget as Chindōgu-worthy is more difficult than you would think. Believe it or not, the Chindogu society dictates several tenets which must apply to the said invention …

1. The invention must be useless

2. The invention must be real, and more than a concept.

3. The invention must be created for daily use

Pretty strict.  Here are some of the amazing inventions that have already made the cut!

hair ego booster

solar lighter

daddy nurser

the baby mop

hay fever hat

360 degree panoramic camera

cockroach swatting slippers

Backscratcher's Shirt

personal rain saver

For more amazing Chindogu check out the Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese Inventions by Kenji Kawakami. I promise you will be entertained.  What would your useless invention be?!