“Let me guess: Your idea is the best thing since sliced bread.

When Otto Rohwedder dreamed up the idea of selling sliced bread in 1912, however, all he got was a lot of carping and naysaying. How difficult was it to slice bread? And everyone knew that bread, even loaves of it, got stale quickly; in slices, it would spoil in a matter of minutes.

It took Mr. Rohwedder, a jeweler by trade, 16 years to produce a machine that could both slice and package the bread to prevent it from being exposed to air. Then he had to beg a Missouri baker to offer it for sale.

Once in a long while, an inventor comes up with an idea that is quickly recognized as brilliant and commercial — Gerry Thomas, inventor of the TV dinner; Edwin Land and his instant camera; Erno Rubik and the cube puzzle. But more often, inventors’ pitches are greeted with skepticism, embarrassment, even ridicule. A box on a pole to collect change from people who want to park their cars on the street?”

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Originally posted by Dane Carlson on May 13, 2005 in Ideas.


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