the inventor of the super soaker talks about turning inventions into products and his next big idea - digital distance measuring instruments

by:UMeasure     2019-10-27
the inventor of the super soaker talks about turning inventions into products and his next big idea  -  digital distance measuring instruments
Lonnie Johnson, 67, invented one of the most successful toys of all time-the super water immersion gun.
The company launched in 1990 with retail sales of more than $1 billion.
He later developed the toy.
Working hours as an engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California.
A native move, ALA, he went to a full
Black high school with a master's degree in nuclear engineering at Tuskegee University and served in the United StatesS.
The air force is always tinkering with its inventions.
Although he has no experience in the toy industry, he sees his super
Powered the water gun and persuaded the executives of Larami, the company that made the knock
Produce his invention and pay his royalties.
Starting at 1981, he funded his Atlanta-
Johnson research is an engineering company with 25 employees and a small income.
He put one of his wealth on two devices that he thought could completely change power generation and storage.
In this edited and condensed interview, he talked about his click-through rate and loss rate.
Susan Adams: What inspired you to be an inventor?
Lonnie Johnson: as far as I can remember, I am interested in the equipment and how it works.
I took everything apart.
Adams: What was your earliest invention?
Johnson: In 1968, when I was in high school, I built a 4-foot-
Tall remote control robot with pneumatic cylinder with operator.
My robot won first place in a science competition at the University of Alabama, where my high school is the only African
Representative of American schools.
This is a great moral victory.
Adams: Do you want to work as an inventor?
Johnson: the draft started after I graduated from tuskeji and got my master's degree in nuclear engineering, so I signed up for ROTC.
I think I would rather be an officer if I had to join the army.
Adams: did you make an invention while in the army?
Johnson: I work at a nuclear reactor and I'm doing computer modeling of space launch.
Finally, I found a job at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, where I invented a power mechanism for the Galileo spacecraft, which runs in orbit around Jupiter until 2003.
My colleagues in the lab told me that I couldn't do it, so it was another moral victory when I did.
Adams: Do you think race played a role in your co-workers undervaluing you?
Johnson: That's the only explanation I can come up.
Adams: What do you think of the movie hidden characters?
I think it's a great movie.
I have a relationship with the ladies because I was the only African when I was in the Jet Propulsion Lab
The American of the Galileo system engineering team.
Adams: How did you decide to start a business as an inventor?
Johnson: after the Jet Propulsion Lab, I went back to the army and made my own invention on one side.
Before I left the Air Force, I got the first patent in 1979.
I call it a digital distance meter.
It reads binary using 1 and 0, points, dash and magnifying glass-
The information encoded from the scale reduced by the photo.
It uses the same technology as cd and dvd.
Did you invent CD and DVD technology?
Johnson: I call it the big fish to run away.
I did not pursue it.
I enjoy my work during the day.
It is a hobby to invent more.
I also think that once I get a patent, the world will open up a path for my door.
But no one knocked.
When I realized that the technology was being commercialized, I didn't realize it was something I was supposed to pursue.
Adams: How did you invent super wine?
Johnson: I was always patching when I was in the Jet Propulsion Lab.
I am working on a new heat pump that uses water instead of Freon because Freon is bad for the environment.
I was experimenting with the nozzles I made and it shot a stream of water in the bathroom and I thought they would be a good water gun.
I have a hard time getting people to understand hard scientific inventions like heat pumps or digital measuring instruments I have.
I think this toy is something anyone can see and appreciate.
Adams: How much research have you done on the toy industry?
Johnson: I had this idea in 1982, but I didn't start working until I got back to Omaha's army and opened a shop in my basement.
I have some wrong beginnings.
Adams: What did you try that didn't work?
Johnson: I wanted to make it myself at first, and I talked to some companies that could handle the issue.
But when they told me it would cost me $200,000 to remove the first 1,000 guns from the production line, I guess for every $200, no one would pay that much for the water gun.
I don't understand that the cost of the tool is high, but the cost is reduced once you build the production line.
I have spent my career in the army, so manufacturing and business are outside my jurisdiction.
Adams: where did you go from there?
Johnson: In 1987, I successfully launched a toy, the Jammin jet, which was driven by compressed air and water and shot from behind.
It is made of foam plastic, there are fivefoot wingspan.
A company called Entertech built it, but an engineer inside the company put the rudder at an angle so that the plane could fly around in a circle.
I tried to persuade him not to do that.
They made 60,000 aircraft, spent $1 million on TV commercials, and shipped aircraft with design flaws.
A child will take the plane out of the box and it will dive and separate.
Adams: Did you lose a lot of money on that invention?
Johnson: I lost time and didn't get the expected income.
Adams: How did you find a company to make super wine?
Johnson: It's 1989. I have already written a letter to the company, including Hasbro. They rejected the idea.
Eventually I went to the toy show and met someone in the hallway who said I should talk to Larami, a small company that makes knockoff toys.
At the show I managed to meet someone there and he said, "If you're in Philadelphia, come and see us, we'll be happy to talk to you.
He said, "Don't come here.
"So I went to Philadelphia and waited for more than an hour in the reception area before I went in to meet someone.
I took out the gun from my suitcase.
They asked me if it worked and I hit the water in the conference room.
They turned the prototype into the first super bomb.
Adams: did it get in touch with the customer right away?
Johnson: In the first year, the guns were sold very well and they wanted to expand the product line.
It took me a few weeks to design a more efficient model for two bottles.
This is the super wine of 100.
Adams: How much did you make from super soaking?
Johnson: I can tell you that I got royalties on sales, Super wine is the first
Between 1992 and 1995, it sold toys worldwide, with sales of more than $1 billion.
Hasbro acquired Lala mi because of this super-big success.
Adams: It's reported that you got $73 million from legal disputes over unpaid royalties from Hasbro.
Johnson: I only spent so little money.
There are too many things on the table to take risks.
Adams: Are you still charging royalties for Super wine? Johnson: No.
The toy is still there, but the patent has expired.
One thing I learned afterwards was the value of the brand.
The name of the super soak is the result of my discussion with President Larami.
If I understand the value of the brand, I will put it in my contract and it is just a patent license.
Have you invented any other toys?
Johnson: I invented the high-performance nerf dart gun, which is better than Hasbro has in the market, and they have reached a licensing agreement with me in these areas.
Adams: What are you doing now?
Johnson: energy technology.
I have invented a new type of engine that can convert heat directly into electricity without moving mechanical components.
Called Johnson heat-
Electrolytic converter for JTEC.
Adams: What is the use of it?
Johnson: You can use this device wherever you have an existing engine.
Convert the heat from the sun, convert the heat from the body into electricity, and waste heat from machinery.
Who did you sell it?
No, it's still in the lab, but we have several patents.
I have talked to NASA about using the device to further expand their limited plutonium supply.
One of the applications we are working on is using body temperature to generate electricity.
Imagine charging your phone with body heat when you're running or walking.
Adams: What are you doing?
Johnson: My other invention isCeramic battery.
Liquid electrolyte is used for existing batteries.
My battery is made of electrolyte from glass.
We can keep the energy of the lithium ion battery between two and three times.
The idea is that JTEC can convert the heat of the sun into electricity, and the battery can store the heat until you are ready to use it.
Solar energy will be an application.
You can also use it at a nuclear power plant.
Adams: how do you finance these projects if you don't have a client?
Johnson: A successful income in the past.
My business model is to accept real innovation, high
Risks and solutions for technical projects and breakthroughs.
I want to reduce the risk to the level that the company can afford.
We have intellectual property rights and we are free to make any transactions that we consider appropriate.
Adams: how much risk do you take personally?
Johnson: The risk is higher than most people think.
If I don't have my own resources, a lot of the things I'm doing don't exist.
Why are you willing to take such risks?
Johnson: one must spend his life in a meaningful way.
It may take a long time for my project to be completed because it will take a long time for others to see what I see.
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