Misconceptions about Innovations of Previous Generations

Misconceptions about Innovations of Previous Generations

Misconceptions about Innovations of Previous Generations
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The stories of great inventors and innovators have been passed down for generations. It is always interesting as the best innovations always feature the most incredible person doing something inconceivably great or virtuous. Changes happen to stories over the course of time. That’s the reason why some of these innovations are either full of misconceptions or are completely false. Let’s take a look at a few of these innovations.

Pythagoras Did Not Discover the Pythagorean Theorem

Pythagorean Theorem - Innovations

You have probably heard of the Pythagorean Theorem in your geometry class. It states that for any right-angle triangle, the square of the hypotenuse, the longest side, is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. Practically, it is extensively used in construction and determining the distance between two points.

However, this valuable theorem was not discovered by the famous philosopher it was named after. Although Pythagoras is believed to be the first mathematician, his actual contributions to the field of mathematics are largely unknown.

A clay tablet originating from the Old Babylonian period shows that they already knew the mathematical relationship between the diagonal of a square and its side, another form of Pythagoras Theorem. This was around 1000 years before Pythagoras was even born.

Christopher Columbus Did Not Discover That the Earth Was Round

Christopher Columbus - Innovations

Even to this day, it is believed that Christopher Columbus risked his life by sailing west to prove that the Earth was round. However, the idea of Earth being round had been around since 600 BC. It was presented by Aristotle and some other scientists of the time.

The myth about Columbus originated around 1828 when an author wrote about Columbus. He added some changes of his own to spice up the tale. The challenges faced by Columbus had nothing to do with the shape of the Earth. Instead, its circumference was the problem. Columbus believed that the circumference of the Earth was small enough that he could sail west instead of east to reach Asia and establish a new trade route.

Hamlet Was Not an Original Idea from William Shakespeare

Hamlet - Innovations

The tragedy of Hamlet is arguably one of the best-known works by William Shakespeare. It may come as a surprise but Hamlet was not an original creation of the famous English writer. It was heavily influenced by a Norse legend written by the Danish historian, Saxo Grammaticus.

Even the name of Grammaticus’s protagonist, Amleth, is an anagram of Hamlet. In both stories, there’s an uncle who kills the king to take the throne, marries his brother’s widow and plans to kill his nephew. The ending is strikingly similar too: the uncle is killed by his nephew as revenge. On the other hand, there is also a bit of difference between the stories. Hamlet dies but Amleth lives on.

Thomas Edison Did Not Invent the Light Bulb

Light Bulb

Thomas Edison is one of the famous inventors in history. Along with his innovations, he is also known for a large number of patents owned by him (1903 to be precise). Due to his massive contributions, there are a lot of misconceptions him such as the invention of the light bulb.

In 1800, Alessandro Volta, an Italian inventor, developed the voltaic pile. It is a contraption consisting of alternating discs of copper and zinc interspersed with cardboard soaked in salty water. The wire would start to glow when electricity passed through it. Years later in 1840, Warren de la Rue developed a more efficient light bulb, which used platinum and was not cost-effective at all. Finally, in 1879, Edison used a different filament and managed to create the most cost-effective bulb of the time.

Michael Jackson Did Not Invent the Moonwalk


The very name of the dance move, “moonwalk”, will turn your thoughts towards Michael Jackson. He performed it (for the first time) at the Motown 25th Anniversary live show, in 1983.  The King of Pop appeared to be walking forward while simultaneously gliding backward. From that day forward, the moonwalk was associated with Michael Jackson.

Originally this dance move was known as “The Backslide”. An African-American tap dancer, called Bill Bailey, actually invented this move in the 1950s. Famous mimes, including Marcel Marceau, also used the move in their routines. Although Michael Jackson did make the move popular with the masses, the iconic move existed years before he was born.

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