9 Inventions You Use Everyday That Were Discovered By Accident

There are hundreds of everyday items modern life cannot exist without that weren’t invented so much as stumbled upon by mistake. Here’s some that, for good or bad, depending on your point of view, we can’t imagine living without:


Just after WWII, Raytheon engineer Perry Spencer accidentally discovered that microwave radiation — courtesy of the magnetron inside of a radar array — can be used to cook food. Specifically, the candy bar he’d had in his pocket. Fortunately he discovered this before it cooked him too. Before long he was in full development of the one cooking instrument that transformed the world, and the microwave went on sale in 1946.

Artificial Sweetener

Back in the 19th century, sugar was simultaneously a cooking staple and a luxury item, since it had to be imported from sugar cane producing areas. But two Johns Hopkins University chemists, Constantin Fahlberg and Ira Remsen, changed that when, after a day at the lab processing chemicals, they went to lunch. Fahlberg noticed his food was overly sweet. Turns out it wasn’t the food, it was the stuff on his hands because he’d forgotten to wash them after handling chemicals all day. The two published a paper on their discovery in 1879 and then Fahlberg went ahead and patented the compound by himself, cutting Remsen out of the hugely profitable sweetener business and becoming a millionaire.