Who Invented Basketball

Who Invented Basketball

438px-Basketball_gameSeemingly second only to football, basketball is one of the most popular team sports played worldwide. Although it has become widely-known for the money-spinning NBA league in America, the sport is played all over the world, with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) contributing greatly with the growth in global popularity of the game. Who was it that set the ball rolling, though?

FirstbasketballAlthough the sport is generally credited as an American creation, it was Dr James Naismith, a Canadian, who designed the first concept of this team sport in December 1891. He was at that time a YMCA Training School instructor in the City of Springfield in Massachusetts (USA, one of the reasons that the sport is seen as American-made). His primary purpose for inventing the game was to give his students an indoor game that offered a good workout, and an enjoyable alternative when the extremely cold weather struck during the winter.

For this reason, the game of basketball was originally played exclusively indoors. The term ‘basketball’ came from the fact that  Dr Naismith first used a peach basket, nailed to the wall at 10ft high. Players shoot (throw) the ball inside the basket in order to score points, though the ball originally had to be retrieved manually, until someone decided to solve this problem by cutting a hole under the basket. The use of peach basket lasted until 1906. After that, it was replaced by backboards and metal hoops, just like in the basketball as it is today, signalling the start of the development into the sport as it is today, with the key rules of the game including multiple-point scoring, and the limit of 5 players on court at a time for a team, with 4 periods of 12 minutes (overtime if needed) deciding the winners.

Legendary NBA players such as Wilt ‘the stilt’ Chamberlin, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan helped the sport gain new levels of popularity, and it is now played on a global scale, with continental and international tournaments, as well as the NBA (and female counterparts such as the WNBA), showcasing the best in the world, with other leagues starting to be held in high regard.

The development of the game of basketball has led to several variations (played either formally or informally),  with historic ones like netball or 1-on-1, or modern slants, such as street, 3-on-3, slamball, or water basketball. The ‘entertainment’ factor of the NBA has also led to skill challenges in special events such as ‘All-Star Weekend’, which include obstacle courses, long-range shots, and the well-publicised slam dunk challenge.

A type of street basketball which has become a big hit for recreation, and internet video viewers, is the trick shot, with one group in particular standing out above the rest. ‘Dude Perfect’ have released a number of entertaining videos, and this one, filmed on a summer camp, shows just how much fun trick shots can be with some creativity:

Basketball – Wikipedia

Who Invented The Trampoline

Who Invented The Trampoline

trampolineThe trampoline is a device that is used around the world both for entertainment and for sport, but who was first to arrive on the scene with this springy product?

In 1936, two Americans, George Nissen and Larry Griswold, who were both athletes representing the University of Iowa (in diving (Nissen), and gymnastics (both)), decided to create a ‘rebounding’ object that would allow for enhanced training and more entertainment in sport, after seeing a circus trapeze act use a tight net for a more entertaining and flowing show. Nissen and Griswold would realise that their product could provide more than one ‘rebound’, provided that it was used correctly (jumping). They would tour their product, named after the Spanish word for ‘diving board’ (trampoline), and eventually started selling them commercially in 1942, with the new product even being used in training for astronauts. The modern trampoline is now made with a mesh canvas/polypropylene surface attached to springs at the side to provide the ‘rebound’ effect.

Nowadays, alongside being produced for competitive ‘trampoline gymnastics‘ competitions (including at the Olympic Games), and being used as training methods for other sports, trampolines have been sold for home use, meaning that the thrill of bouncing can now be a few steps away in your back garden. With a variety of styles, and improving saftey measures to combat the obvious risk involved, it is fair to say that Nissen & Griswold’s product has really ‘taken off’.

With the popularity of home-use trampolines reaching new ‘highs’, it is inevitable that users will try and expand their use, and attempt to create different ‘moves’ or styles. Sometimes, though, to the delight of home video clip shows, this does not go to plan…

Trampolines – Wikipedia

Who Invented Bossaball

Who Invented Bossaball

bossaball-01A fairly new sport which is not fully established on the world stage yet, Bossaball is an intriguing mixture of volleyball, trampolining, football, and samba music. Who was the professor who constructed this bizarre formula?

Bossaball has a very young existance compared to other, more established sports, having only come into existence in 2003 as a concept by Belgian Filip Eyckmans, who would release his game in Spain in 2005. Quite how he imagined this sport is unclear, as it is played on an inflatable surface (similar to a bouncy castle) by two teams of 3-5, with an intergrated trampoline on either side of a volleyball net to allow for a team member to go up for a very high ‘spike’. Serving the ball is often done by foot, and the ball can be met by any body part, with the game usually played with samba music in the background. The main aim of the game is to have the ball land on the opponent’s side of the court (like in volleyball), with 1 point awarded for landing on the inflatable area, and 3 for hitting the trampoline first. The team that reaches 25 points first is declared the winner.

Bossaball is still in its infancy, though, and clubs have currently only seem to have been set up in 12 nations (Belgium, Spain, Brazil, Germany, Holland, Kuwait, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Romania, Turkey and Ecuador), but the sport does seem to be expanding (proof of which is the running of the annual Bossaball World Cup), and due to its fun, different, and pary-style nature, it seems to have the potential to become a more popular game.

Below is a video demonstrating the game of Bossaball:

Bossaball – Wikipedia

Who Invented The Bouncy Ball

Who Invented The Bouncy Ball

bouncy ballsThe bouncy ball is one of the most simple, yet enjoyable products on the market, and even at such a low price, can keep many children (and perhaps some adults) entertained for hours on end. But who was the first to invent or design this intriguing product?

Who Invented The Bouncy Ball

In 1965, an American chemist named Norman Stingley developed a way to compress the substance of rubber, and after teaming up with toy manufactors Wham-O, worked past initial faults, and eventually created (and marketed) a small, strong, rubber ball that would be known as Super Ball, with the new craze taking off almost immediately, with customers finding many uses and creating their own new ways to have fun with the product.

The balls were able to bounce at around 70% of its kinetic energy in each single bounce (with improvements to that figure seen in some balls after further developments), due to the compressed rubber inside. Many variations and improved versions of the bouncy ball have been made since the 60’s, and it still remains one of the most enjoyable toys around.

Further proof that the bouncy ball was, and still is a popular and fun type of toy came when Sony used around 250,000 of them as part of an advertising campaign:

Bouncy Balls – Wikipedia

Who Invented The School

Who invented school

classroomSchools are designed as places for children to learn, and develop future life skills as they gradually grow up and move on into adult society. It can be difficult for some kids do get excited about it all, though, so what name shoulders the blame when a child says ‘I hate school!’? Who invented school?

Although there have been hundreds, maybe thousands of years of tradition in teaching children in an organised manner, such as in the cultures of Byzantines, Romans, or Greeks (famed for seeking knowledge), it is not these civilizations that were thought to come up with the idea of a fully-organised and formal schooling system. That credit falls to Horace Mann, who was supposed to have started a school system.

Mann, an outstanding college president and educator, planned and started the American school system in Bridgewater and Lexington, Massachusetts around 1837. He supported the idea of a ‘Prussian’ education system. But these facts do not make him the man who started the idea of school because there were already a lot of schools established in his time, although there was no system in place to bind them together as seen today, and might not have been but for Mann’s intervention. There are now systems for schooling purposes in most countries of the world.

In 1369, a Mr. Harry P. School was said to have developed the modern type of school, starting with the the idea of gathering naughty children from the neighborhood and locking them up in a building. The idea seemed good to the parents, and later they employed an adult to look after the youngsters, and the rest is history. In most countries, school is now compulsory.

Below is a video based on the history of compulsory schooling:

School – Wikipedia

Who Invented The QWERTY Keyboard

QWERTY_keyboardThe QWERTY keyboard is the default keyboard used with computers, named after the first 6 letters on its top left side. The QWERTY design was not actually for computer keyboard design, and instead goes back much further than that.

American Christopher Sholes designed the original QWERTY keyboard. Sholes, while worked at a newspaper in Milwaukee. His main motivation was to invent a device that would number pages in a book easily, so that the newspaper did not need the man hours of tedious work in numbering. Together with another inventor, Samuel Soule, he created a machine for numbering in 1866. He may have just stopped there, but a fellow inventor, Carlos Glidden, suggested the machine could capeable of more, nameley typing letters. After reading an article about the Plerotype typewriter invented by John Pratt, an Englishman, Sholes then had the idea to invent his own typewriter.

Sholes got together with Soule and Glidden once again, and after several attempts, and the departure from the project of the latter two, a typewriter was produced, though a major issue with the product was key jamming. That is, the typing bars would stick together when the typist worked too fast, due to popular letters being close to eachother in the alphabet, on which the keypad was directly based. So Sholes decided to split up the most commonly used letters in the design, and after much trial and error, he came up with the QWERTY design. The final design made sure the word “TYPE WRITER” could be typed just from the top row. Producers Remington approved the design, and the rest is history, with QWERTY even being the most popular design in modern computers, which do not have the issue of jamming. Several other designs have been attempted, but QWERTY looks set to be the keyboard layout of choice for a long time.

Below is an example of someone seeming to use a QWERTY keyboard to its maximum potential, a speed which would probably have broken an early design keyboard within seconds:


QWERTY – Wikipedia

Who Invented Pong

pongPong is often seem as ‘the original video game’, and despite its relative simplicity nowadays, was a marvel to behold when it was first produced in 1972, with the game paving the way for the development of video arcades, and the ever-improving home videogame industry, which seems to push boundaries after every release. Who was it that created Pong, who in doing so, also set the path for a home entertainment phenomenon?

The answer is an American computer scientist called Allan Alcorn invented this arcade video game, Atari Inc. (the publishers) releasing it to the mainstream sometime in 1972. Atari founder Nolan Bushnell assigned this task to Alcorn as a training exercise, which was seen as so impressive that it was developed into a game.

According to Bushnell, the main idea behind the game was based on the electronic ping-pong game of the first-ever home videogame console named Magnavox Odyssey. Unlike the game it was based on, Pong would be a major hit, with spin-offs created, and eventually forcing Atari, and new developers, to follow up with new material, resulting with the videogame industry snowballing into what it is today. A true testament to the simple game of Pong, which seemed to start it all, is that it is still played around the world, in arcades, on consoles, or online, and is still recognised as a classic, even with the glitz, glamour, and general ‘desireability’ seen in its modern counterparts.

Pong – Wikipedia

Who Invented Lego

who invented lego blocks

Lego_BricksLego, manufactured by the Lego Group, are one of the most well-known and instantly recognisable types of toy in the world, due to their basic concept and potential for seemingly endless possibilities, and have been credited with expanding the ability of imagination and creativity of the children (and adults) that use them. But who brainstormed this product?

Ole Kirk Christiansen, a carpenter from Denmark, conceptualized and invented the idea of Lego bricks. He came from a poor family and worked as a carpenter to make ends meet, and used his workplace skills to begin to produce toys made out of wood (around 1932). He considered it as his real job during that time, and went further by constructing miniature furniture and houses to sell. By 1934, his company was already addressed as Lego, the name under which the toys were sold.

In 1947, he decided to use plastic to make these toys, and by 1949, Christiansen had already made a total 200 wooden and plastic toys. In that same year, his company started to manufacture toys called ‘automatic binding bricks’, which were comprised of interlocking bricks. Christiansen named this product after his company, Lego, which was derived from the Danish phrase ‘leg godt,’ the meaning of which is to ‘play well.’ He also emphasized on his employees the importance of quality.

In 1954, his son Godtfred Kirk Christiansen assumed the position as Lego Group junior managing director. He was credited for introducing Lego bricks as a more enjoyable and fun toy system. In January 1958, months before Ole Kirk’s death, the patent for the modern version of Lego bricks was approved.

Today, the Lego Group has progressed even further. It has already designed and manufactured thousands of themed sets that are guaranteed to bring fun and enjoyment for everyone, with a monumental range of themes, and licenced special editions based on movies and TV shows. The company has expanded to include movies, books, videogames, clothing, and even Legoland theme parks, and now have one of the most recognisable products in the world, that is still going strong today, with Ole Kirk Christiansen proving that you can be successful regardless of your background or social status, with creativity and imagination, the very things that his product stands for, being a critical factor in his success.

Lego – Wikipedia

Who Invented The Toothbrush

who invented toothbrush

toothbrush_adultv41_allEven the simplest of items has a back story, and one of the household items that people really take for granted every day is the toothbrush. But who came up with this reasonably simple invention?

Tooth-cleaning methods have been around since the dawn of civilisation, but it is doubtful that the methods employed in ancient communities in India , Arabia, and China, which included the use of plant stalks, twigs from trees, feathers and quills, or chalk, would be seen as suitable in the present-day. These baffling approaches were said to do a reasonable job, but it was clear that oral hygiene was in its infancy compared to today.

But who was the person that spared the world from the now-unorthodox ways of dental care? The answer is an Englishman named William Addis, who developed the first prototype whilst doing time in jail in the 1770’s (for causing a public riot). Whilst in his cell, Addis had plenty of time to realise that the current method employed for cleaning one’s teeth (a rag with soot and salt) could probably be improved on. After drilling holes in one end of an animal bone, he passed through and tied a bunch of bristles that a guard had given him, using glue to seal the tied end of the bristles to the bone. The modern toothbrush was born, and many years after his release, Addis would die a very wealthy man for his efforts, with his brainchild being developed with new ideas and technologies, and the basic toothbrush being mass-produced, and used the world over. Who says that prisoners cannot do something constructive?

Toothbrush – Wikipedia

Who Invented The Party Balloon

Who invented the balloon

balloonsWhen planning a party or special event, one of the first things that comes to mind is to have balloons as part of the decoration, due to their colourful, simple, and novelty-style appearance. But who came up with the idea to produce these rubbery sacks of air?

The idea of the ‘balloon’ was first proposed in Italy in 1643, when physicist Evangelista Torricalli wanted to prove that air was more than ‘nothing’. Although the theory was correct (how can a balloon, or something similar, have shape with trapped air if it is suposedly nothing?), the first production of the item was by Portugese priest Bartolomeu de Gusmao, who in 1709, first displayed air trapped in a substance, and gave it the name that it is known by today, balloon.

In the 19th century, balloons were developed further, this time in England, when scientists used rubber to store the air, and experimented with ‘lighter than air substances’ such as hydrogen, discovering that it caused the balloon to float upwards. In 1881, these types of ‘balloons’ were made available to the public, and in 1931 the first ‘novelty’ version was produced. From the 1970’s onwards, party balloons have been seen in the variety of colours, designs, shapes, and sizes that we see today, with modern materials including rubber, nylon, or latex, amongst others, and being designed to be filled with water (water balloons), helium/hydrogen (for upwards floating), nitrous oxide, or normal air, allowing for modern balloons to be applied to a wide range of purposes.

One concern about balloons, though, is when they are punctured. If enough pressure is applied to a party balloon that causes a break of the material, it will ‘pop’. It is usually to quick to notice, and it is hard not to feel as though a gun has just been fired, but with slow-motion cameras such as those in the video clip below, you can see just how quickly a balloon will burst, even by comparision to gravity…

Balloon – Wikipedia