The guy who invented Atari also founded Chuck E. Cheese; the guy who wrote Puff the Magic Dragon invented modern 3-D movies; and more.
There’s something very renaissance-y about making two major contributions to the world that aren’t connected to each other. It’s hard enough to impact one industry, let alone crack two. So today, we’re going to celebrate those people.
This list features 11 people who invented, founded, wrote or otherwise created two virtually unrelated and unconnected things.
1 | Nolan Bushnell – invented Atari and founded Chuck E. Cheese
Atari came first, Chuck E. Cheese came second — when he was brainstorming possible places he could lure children into to play those Atari video games. That sounds overtly sinister, and that’s intentional — there were plenty of ways to feed kids cheap pizza and get them playing games that didn’t have to involve scarring them with an animatronic mouse.
2 | John Paul DeJoria – founded Paul Mitchell hair products and Patron tequila
He founded Paul Mitchell (with a hairdresser named Paul Mitchell — it’s not just a clever name) in 1980. Nine years later, he co-founded the Patron Spirits Company. So next time your salon recommends Paul Mitchell products or your Lil Jon recommends Patron, know the money is ultimately going to the same place.
3 | Paul Winchell – invented the artificial heart and created the voices for Tigger and Gargamel
Paul Winchell got the first patent for an artificial heart. But while anyone can do “medicine” or “help mankind” or “save lives,” Paul was truly more focused on his true passion: Doing voices. He’s the Patch Adams of inventors. He was a ventriloquist and went on to do voices for Gargamel on the Smurfs, Tigger for Winnie the Pooh movies (for which he won a Grammy) and the Owl in the Tootsie Roll Pop commercials.
4 | William Mouton Marston – created Wonder Woman and invented the lie detector
If only the real lie detector were a golden lasso it’d be so much cooler.
5 | Charles Browne Fleet – invented laxatives and Chapstick
His work with laxatives helped him establish such a presence in the colon cleansing industry that his name is also on the biggest brand of take-home enemas in the world, Fleet Enemas. Think about all of that the next time you put on Chapstick. (Side note: Long after his death, his company also went on to create Summer’s Eve, the world’s first disposable douche.)
6 | Lenny Lipton – wrote Puff the Magic Dragon and invented modern 3-D movie technology
Lipton wrote the lyrics to Puff the Magic Dragon when he was a 19-year-old student at Cornell University. He founded a company in 1980 that developed the basics of the 3-D you
see avoid in movie theaters today. (The company was acquired by Real D Cinema in 2005.)
7 | Albert Lamorisse – directed The Red Balloon and invented Risk
For those who aren’t familiar with The Red Balloon: It’s a French short from 1956 that many people pretend they’ve seen; it’s the only short film ever to win the Oscar for best original screenplay. For those who aren’t familiar with Risk: It’s a board game that came out in 1957 that many people pretend they’ve actually finished a round of; it’s the only board game ever to infuriate a Ukrainian man on Seinfeld.
8 | William Mills – invented hand grenades and modern golf clubs
Mills got an early patent on aluminum golf clubs, then apparently that wasn’t exciting enough, so he also invented hand grenades. The British government was so thankful to him for inventing one of those two things that they knighted him. (Hint: The one that kills people. Now watch this drive.)
9 | William Lear – founded Lear Jet and invented the eight-track tape player
It’s quite a dichotomy that the guy who founded one of the most prestigious private plane companies also founded one of the least prestigious music mediums. One out of two ain’t bad.
10 | Hiram Maxim – invented the machine gun and curling iron
Even though he invented the machine gun and the curling iron, he actually made his money when he was alive from inventing an amusement park ride — the one where you’re in a seat, suspended by cables, and it twirls you around in a circle. That’s the equivalent of a really amazing musician who makes all of their money from a novelty pop song.
11 | Thomas Dolby – wrote She Blinded Me With Science and invented polyphonic ringtones
Oh! We were just talking about you.