Television’s Million-Dollar Jackpot for Inventors (May, 1950)
Sounds a bit like a proto-kickstarter:
“Farmer then frankly announced that the inventors needed funds and that he believed their invention was really an important one—just the thing for barber shops, bowling alleys, hotels and cigar stores. He asked the audience to raise $5000 for a percentage of the business. His words were hardly on the air when the station’s phones started jingling up cash for the Van Doren boys. Eight of these callers wanted to put up the entire sum—thus offering a total of $40,000 to get the gadget on the market.”
Some variation of invention TV idea has been tried a number of times. There was a similar show in Chicago around the same time, one on the BBC a few years later, a terrible show called American Inventor a few years ago, and a current show called Stars of Science filmed in Qatar that was recently featured in Wired.
Television’s Million-Dollar Jackpot for Inventors
Best break many unknown inventors ever had is an inspiring Minneapolis TV show where gadgets star and gadgeteers win fame—and funds for their ideas.
By Alfred Eris
TWO brothers, Fred and George Van Doren, labored long and ardently to build a better shoeshine machine. At last, just when it looked as if all their inventive efforts would pay off, they found themselves completely stymied. Like so many other inventors, they had run out of funds —right on the brink of success.
The BBC did American Inventor 50 years ago. (Jul, 1955)
This show looks like it was really cool. It’s basically American Inventor without the overt competition.
BBC Puts Inventors On TV
INVENTIONS ARE the stars of one of the most popular television shows in Britain.
The Television Inventors’ Club of the British Broadcasting Corporation has been on the air for seven years. During this time more than 7000 inventions have been submitted to the club, of which 580 have been shown on the air. A quarter of these have caught the eyes of manufacturers and many are already in production.
The inventions range from a simple shirt stud which allows for the shrinkage of the collar, to a compressible ship’s fender which eases a 24,000-ton vessel against a dock.
A number of British inventors have hit the jackpot through the program. One of them actually did it with a better mousetrap, and the world has already beaten a path to his door to the tune of over a million sales. Years of patient observation taught the inventor that a mouse twists its head when approaching the bait and nibbles from below. His trap therefore springs when the bait is liftedâ€”not pushed down. A tidy profit was also made by the inventor of a stair elevator for invalids. A moving step, carried on rails, is drawn up the staircase by a cable and winch. More than 500 inquiries poured into the BBC when this device was shown on TV.