We know that necessity is the mother of invention. But what happens when that invention gets a taste for matricide?
If an invention is doomed to fail, the inventor is often unfortunately immortalised; not as a genius, but as the creator of something that epically failed. However, there’s a special place in history reserved for the unfortunate few who were killed by the useless and unheralded contraptions. Vale.
Inventor: Thomas Midgely Jr.
Murdered by: His Bed
Thomas Midgley was a man crippled by genius, and perhaps more telling, micromanagement. In years to come, Midgley might be viewed as a Frankenstein level crackpot, as his discoveries may kill us all.
In his day, Midgley gave the world Leaded Petrol and Chlorofluorocarbons, known colloquially as CFCs. So, thanks for all your strong efforts in killing the planet, and everyone in it, dingus. However, a slight dose of smug payback can be claimed from the fact that he was killed by his own invention, which may have stepped from his lack of trust in medical professionals.
In 1940, he contracted polio. Bedridden (perhaps by karma), he decided to develop a system that would help him get in and out of the sheets unaided. Sadly, and much unlike every 007 villain system it was inspired by, Midgley was found strangled by the system of ropes and pullies that called him Papa. I’d extend condolences, but you know, we’re all going to die.
Inventor: Franz Reichelt
Murdered by: Peer Pressure
Franz Reichelt was more than a man who decided to hurl himself off the most romantic phallic symbol in continental Europe, the Eiffel Tower. Franz was very much like us. He had no idea what he was doing and displayed a great deal of doubt before being pressured into something.
Back in 1912, leaping off buildings draped in a homemade parachute was a gentleman’s pursuit, and not the weekend hobby of radical chads who message your spouse to see if she’s still up.
Franz stepped to the tower that morning, unsure if his invention was going to work, but felt pressured by the media to do the jump, instead of leaving the glory to an inanimate object.
Sadly, with British Pathe in attendance, Herr Reichelt chose the sensible thing and jumped from a lower height, which doomed him, as leaping from a higher plane might have allowed the chutesuit to deploy as planned.
Heinously, the cameras caught it all.
Now, NSFW, and feel free to not watch it, but the reservations he possessed prior to his jumped is plain to see. The wavering of his final step is heartbreaking as it is interesting.
In an alternate universe, Franz stepped off the ledge and lived on to have a very happy life, where nothing bad happened to him at all.
Inventor: Valentin Abakovski
Murdered by: His extremely pimped ride
Fair play to Valentin Abakovski, as the ‘Aerowagon’ looks like an extremely dope whip. It somehow combined the world of rail, as it was fundamentally a train, powered by an aircraft engine, replete with a boss propellor thing. Valentin was also a chauffeur in his regular life, so this contraption was clearly the manifestation of him having to drive sensibly. The aerowagon was originally designed to ferry the more elite of we’re all equal (but some more equal than others) vibe that painted the walls of the Soviet Union.
Sadly, the precursor to Pimp My Ride had a rather grim ending, as the part of the test where the Politburo acted shocked over the transformation was spoiled slightly by the fact that all six testers were killed when the Aerowagon became airborne.
Inventor: James Douglas
Murdered by: Inevitability
In 1564, the city of Edinburgh invited inventors to submit their designs for a clean, efficient killing machine. This was a time of great unrest in Scotland, with the supporters of the exiled Mary, Queen of Scots being hunted down by those loyal to King James VI. James Douglas accepted the challenge. The aristocrat, who was serving as the regent of Scotland, stepped forward with his Maiden, an early type of guillotine designed to slice off a person’s head in a single swift stroke.
It was perhaps fitting then, that, when Morton was arrested in 1580 and charged with being an accessory to murder, he was condemned to be killed by the very execution device he introduced into Scotland. Morton would have been impressed. According to eyewitness accounts, his death was instantaneous. His body was buried in an unmarked grave in the centre of Edinburgh.
His head, however, was put on a spike at the city gates and it stayed there for 18 months until it was taken down and buried alongside the rest of his remains.