Failed Inventions

Tanmoy Deb


Inventions have shaped the life of humans…often for the better. Right from the wheel to computers and the Mars rover – all have been truly revolutionary. However, not every invention is a winner. Studies have shown that 60% to 80% of new products fail. Failures are as notorious as success.

Even highly successful business corporations like Coca-cola, McDonald’s and Ford have experienced occasional megaflops. One tends to celebrate success and brush failures under the carpet. But behind every successful invention, there are a series of failures. As Henry Ford, father of mass production, once remarked, “Failures provide the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.” Even the genius inventor Thomas Edison who held 1093 patents failed thousands of times before perfecting the incandescent bulb!

If one delves deep into the history of failed inventions, there are endless examples and each one with a different lesson. Sometimes the lessons could be very strange and peculiar. Take the case of General Motors (GM) who first mass-produced the electric car GM EV-1 between 1996 and 1999. It did not sell and was scrapped as it was felt that the market was not ready for this type of product. But, in 2016 itself Tesla sold over 76,000 electric vehicles! Sometimes it is not always innovation but the timing of the release of the product in the market that spells success...Read more