History is full of smart young inventors who, still full of childhood's energy and yet unafraid of failure, have innovated, invented and changed the way the world works. It's a good thing for all of us: invention isn't always successful the first time around, so the more time to tinker can mean more successful inventions for the rest of us to use and enjoy.



TUTORIAL: World's Greatest Investors



Earmuffs at 15 Years Old
A teenager into ice skating isn't very unusual, and it doesn't necessarily mark that teen out for future financial success. In Chester Greenwood's case, his love of the winter sport was hindered only by the bitterly cold weather that hurt his ears. After experimenting with a few quick solutions, Greenwood enlisted his grandmother's help. He made wire circles, she sewed velvet and fur on them, and the first earmuffs were created. That was back in 1874, and Greenwood was only 15 at the time. (For related reading, see 7 Women Inventors And Their Indispensable Designs.)

The Popsicle at 11 Years Old
Maybe it's something about ice that spurs kids to inventive thinking. Frank Epperson left his soda water outside overnight and it turned to ice. The next morning, behold, the first Popsicle had been invented. Epperson was only 11 years old at the time, though he didn't patent his invention until almost 20 years later, in 1923. He later sold his rights to the Popsicle.

The Crayon Holder at 11 Years Old
Cassidy Goldstein, at 11 years old, was working on a writing project using crayons. She had trouble using the bits and pieces of broken crayon, and improvised with a clear plastic tube meant to hold flowers. Her simple solution of the Crayon Holder ended up being commercialized, and it is sold by major retailers. Goldstein herself was named "Youth Inventor of the Year" in 2006. (For related reading, see Ridiculous Ideas That Made People Millions.)

The Helicopter at 20 Years Old
Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky, a native of Ukraine (then Imperial Russia), was born in 1889. Just 20 years later, he invented and built the first helicopter. It could lift itself off the ground, but it couldn't hold up a pilot; Sikorsky's second helicopter, built a year later, was able to do both. Sikorsky didn't stop with the helicopter. In 1913, he built the first four-engine airplane. After immigrating to the U.S. in 1919, he organized a corporation in 1923, the Sikorsky Aero Engineering Corporation, which continues to operate. Sikorsky received numerous awards and accolades during his lifetime.

The "Makin' Bacon" at 8 Years Old
Abbey Fleck had just reached the ripe old age of 8 years old when she invented her first consumer product, Makin' Bacon. This invention is a simple dish that cooks bacon in the microwave while allowing the fat to drip down into a reservoir. After inventing the cooking device, Abbey worked with her father to start a company that produces and distributes them to retailers such as Walmart.

Thigh Pack at 6 Years Old
Eight years old is extremely young, but Kelly Reinhart was even younger when she invented a thigh pack. The pack was a riff on holsters worn by cowboys. Kelly's idea was that kids could use an accessible, lightweight pack for their stuff. She was thinking of important stuff for kids her age, like candy and video games. Kelly and her dad went on to found TPak International. With annual orders around $1 million, Kelly's early inventing has not only brought her financial success, but some startling inroads for a little girl. She has met with the Pentagon to talk about possible use of the TPak for military applications. (For related reading, see 6 Unusual Ways To Make A Living.)

The Bottom Line
Hearing stories about a young Benjamin Franklin or teenaged Thomas Edison playing with electricity and changing the future can be discouraging for current generations of aspiring inventors. After all, it was so long ago, times were different and kids are different these days. Except, as it turns out, kids are much the same. They're curious, full of questions and they're also full of ingenious solutions to a multitude of everyday problems. Some things may change, but the creative power of youth is still the same.

Related Articles
  1. Investing Basics

    This is What Donald Trump's Portfolio Looks Like

    Find out what Donald Trump's portfolio looks like and gain some interesting insights into the way the billionaire's investment mind works.
  2. Personal Finance

    4 Famous People Whose Finances Were Under Conservatorship

    Understand what conservatorship is and how it comes about during the legal process. Learn about four celebrities who were placed under conservatorship.
  3. Stock Analysis

    7 Trump Businesses You Didn't Know Existed

    Understand what Donald Trump is best known for and the types of income streams he's created. Learn about seven obscure businesses he owns.
  4. Estate Planning

    A Look At Robin Williams' Net Worth and What Happened to His Estate

    Understand what happened to Robin Williams' estate and what his estate included. Learn about the court battle over his remaining possessions.
  5. Your Clients

    What Working with Celebrity Clients is Really Like

    Expect excitement as well as the mundane when dealing with celebrity clients. Some will be charming; others...not so much. Here's what else to anticipate.
  6. Your Practice

    How to Add Celebrities to Your Client Roster

    The trick to landing celebrity clients is a subset of the skill of acquiring clients in general. Here are some strategies to help break into this world.
  7. Wealth Management

    A Look At Britney Spears' Net Worth and Her Conservatorship

    Discover how Britney Spears' net worth plunged in 2007 and has since been growing under the management and direction of her conservatorship.
  8. Economics

    Management Strategies From A Top CEO

    Jack Welch is a legend in the business world: during the two decades he was CEO of General Electric, the company’s value rose by 4000%.
  9. Investing

    From Supermodel to Entrepreneur: Gisele Bündchen's Sejaa Pure Skincare

    As one of the highest-paid models in history, Bündchen has turned her name and image into a worldwide brand, and Sejaa is part of her massive empire.
  10. Investing

    Oprah Takes a Big Bet With Weight Watchers (WTW)

    Does "The Oprah Effect" still work, and can Winfrey reinvigorate a brand that's been struggling for years?
RELATED FAQS
  1. What causes politicians or governments to begin "pork barrel" spending?

    Pork barrel spending occurs when the government taxes the general population to hand out concentrated benefits to special ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Discouraged Worker

    A person who is eligible for employment and is able to work, but is currently unemployed and has not attempted to find employment ...
  2. Ponzimonium

    After Bernard Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi scheme was revealed, many new (smaller-scale) Ponzi schemers became exposed. Ponzimonium ...
  3. Quarterly Earnings Report

    A quarterly filing made by public companies to report their performance. Included in earnings reports are items such as net ...
  4. Dark Pool Liquidity

    The trading volume created by institutional orders that are unavailable to the public. The bulk of dark pool liquidity is ...
  5. Godfather Offer

    An irrefutable takeover offer made to a target company by an acquiring company. Typically, the acquisition price's premium ...
Trading Center