You know the old saying: It’s better to give than to receive!

And today, the giving spirit is in full swing… because it’s National Give Something Away Day!

This relatively new holiday is designed to inspire more giving in the world. And so far, it seems to be working… the latest statistics showed that donations are on the rise in all major categories, from education and charities to art, environmental affairs and more!

Of course, there’s more to giving than just donating money, clothing or food. You can also give away your ideas… which can be even more impactful than monetary donations.

So, to honor the occasion, we’ve put together a fun list of 5 inventors who gave away their big ideas – whether it was intentional or not. Let’s check ’em out!


1. Tim Berners-Lee: The inventor who gave us the World Wide Web

Image source: Wikipedia

Without Tim Berners-Lee (aka “TimBL”, as he’s known online), you probably wouldn’t be reading this… because he was the genius behind the World Wide Web!

Back in the late 1980s, TimBL was working at CERN when he realized there wasn’t an easy way to share text documents via the (then brand-new) internet. So, he rolled up his sleeves and designed a method that would allow hypertext documents to be transmitted online. To do this, he had to develop an entire series of protocols that allow computers to communicate with one another.

The result was the World Wide Web. He didn’t patent his concept because he wanted everyone to use and spread it. (We can all be grateful for that – can you imagine if you had to log into a different web browser every time you clicked on a link?!)

Since giving away his brilliant concept, he’s remained very much involved with all things World Wide Web. He currently acts as the Director of W3C, the global organization responsible for setting standards on the web.

2. Daisuke Inoue: The inventor who gave us Karaoke

Image source: Open Culture

Who doesn’t love a night of karaoke? Okay, don’t answer that… we know it’s not exactly for everyone. But you can’t deny the incredible cultural phenomenon that is karaoke!

It all started with Daisuke Inoue, a Japanese drummer who performed in bars and nightclubs. Their band was famous for allowing their audience to jump on stage and join in the fun… and one day, after a concert, a particularly lively fan asked Daisuke if his band could record songs without the vocals… so the fan could recreate the experience at home.

Daisuke not only complied, he took the concept to the next level! In 1971, he created the “Juke 8” – a machine with a built-in tape player, a microphone and a coin slot. Karaoke was born… and Daisuke chose not to patent the idea. After all, music should be for everyone… right?!

3. Nick Holonyak: The inventor who gave us the LED bulb

Image source:

This is a fun one… back in the 1960s, a man named Nick Holonyak was an engineer at General Electric. He worked on a team that wanted to get diodes to produce light – a task that many at the time thought was impossible.

Nick, however, was confident. After a stroke of inspiration, he suggested mixing gallium arsenide and gallium phosphide. His colleagues laughed at the idea… until it WORKED.

His discovery led to the now-widespread use of LED bulbs. In fact, he predicted that the incandescent bulb would eventually be a thing of the past… and so far, he’s (mostly) been proven right.

After he had his lightbulb moment (literally), Nick went on to develop colored LEDs and the first quantum laser (which made CD players possible) while working at the University of Indiana.

4. Jonas Salk: The inventor who gave us the polio vaccine

Image source:

This one is quite timely, isn’t it?!

Back in 1952, polio was still… you know, a thing. Millions were dying from the deadly disease, and nobody seemed to know how to stop it. At least, nobody except Jonas Salk!

Jonas and his team at the University of Pittsburgh get credit for developing the world’s first mass-produced polio vaccine. They leveraged years of research to create a vaccine that wasn’t just effective, but also safe to use for mass audiences.

Naturally, Jonas did not patent their invention. When asked about it years later, he said: “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?” Jonas knew his vaccine would spread faster (and save millions of lives) if anyone could create it.

He was right – thanks to his vaccine, polio has been almost completely eradicated from the earth.

5. Norman Borlaug: The inventor who gave food to millions

Image source:

There isn’t a single invention that Norman Borlaug is best known for – instead, he’s known for his entire body of work related to agriculture.

In the early 1940s, Norman had a chance visit to Mexico, where he was first confronted with the challenge of improving wheat harvests. The locals were having trouble producing enough food under the existing conditions, so he and his team spent 16 years developing a whole series of techniques and innovations that allowed wheat production to thrive in Mexico. These techniques became known as “The Green Revolution”.

Next, he moved on to the rest of the world. His inventions include new wheat varieties that grow better in different climates, crop management practices that allow farmers to maximize their harvests, and a number of other innovations that put more food on the table around the world.

This may not sound impressive yet… but get this: It’s likely that Norman’s dedication to agriculture was so impactful, it’s said that he has saved more lives than any other person who has ever lived. Talk about a gift!


Now it’s your turn. Do you know of an inventor who’s given away their ideas? Or have you given something away recently? Let us know in the comments below!

2 comments on “5 Famous Inventors Who Gave Away Their Best Ideas

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *