Tuesday, February 7, 2017

5 Arguably Stolen Ideas that Became Iconic

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Steve Ballmer, a one-time CEO of Microsoft, and good friend of Bill Gates once said he heard the Billionaire tech company founder say that "good artists copy, and great artists steal." In business, this idealism goes against ethics, but in today's dog eat dog world, do we still have room for ethics? 

Here are 5 ideas that were arguably stolen from their creator and became extremely successful. By the way, Bill Gates is on this list.

I will point out that some of the ideas were stolen simply because the original creators didn't have the "great vision" the "thieves" had, or in some cases were lacking something that the "thieves" added.

The Dip and Squeeze Ketchup Packet


We will start off simple.

A great design is something that can eliminate steps in a time-taking process, or a process that is just really fucking annoying like squeezing ketchup or other types of sauces out of a sauce packet.

David Wawrzynski, a small-time food entrepreneur from Michigan is currently in the midst of a huge lawsuit with Heinz over the distribution of their "dip and squeeze" ketchup packet. According to Wawrzynski, Heinz originally told him that they saw no value in his product, only for Wawrzynski to find out just a few months later, according to Wawrzynski, that Heinz began mass distribution of something extremely similar to his creation. He is suing Heinz for millions, the case is ongoing.


What the hell is a Magnavox Odyssey 3000?

Pong was stolen? Yup. This is confirmed as a stolen idea because Atari paid royalties to Magnavox for many years after Magnavox took them to federal court and won. 

Long story short, (if you want the long version, click here) the Magnavox Odyssey and their aptly titled game Tennis, was released two years before Atari gave the world Pong. However, Atari had a much bigger fan base, and even though they relinquished some of their sales of Pong to Magnavox, Atari is still credited with starting the home gaming console revolution..

After all, why change all the history books for a game system created by Magnavox?


Nikola Tesla (left) and Guglielmo Marconi (right)

Most people are likely familiar with Nikola Tesla and his many contributions to the age we live in, but many may not be familiar with inventor Guglielmo Marconi, or Tesla's controversial connection to him.

Marconi, was originally accredited with the invention of the radio after Tesla failed to convince the U.S. Patent office that Marconi was sheepeshly using more than 17 of Tesla's patents to create the first working radio. 

Nikola Tesla would later win the battle for the patent, but unfortunately, he wouldn't be alive long enough to see it.


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Left to Right: Maurice McDonald, Richard McDonald, Ray Kroc

McDonald's was stolen? Sort of, here is the short version of the actual story.....

In 1940, Ray and Maurice McDonald opened a new restaurant with the main focus being speed and consistency, they called their creation McDonald's. McDonald's concept of quick service, combined with quality food and beverages, made them an instant hit in San Bernardino. After a small and unsuccessful attempt at franchising the business (the second and third location failed to commit to the McDonald brother's high standard of quality, consistency and speed), the McDonald brothers decided to just focus on their sole location.

In 1955, moderately successful multi-shake mixer salesman Ray Kroc visited the sole McDonald's location after the McDonald brothers ordered six of Kroc's multi-mixer machines for their restaurant. Kroc instantly fell in love with the McDonald brother's ingenious operation. After much negotiation, Kroc signed a contract to become a small partner with McDonald's. The three gentlemen saw immediate success and quickly opened over a 100 locations across the country within a matter of a few years. However, the three entrepreneurs would later part ways after the McDonald brothers business goals of keeping the company small would conflict with Ray Kroc's vision of a worldwide restaurant sensation. 

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Ray Kroc would later find a number of calculated loopholes in his contract with the McDonald brothers and after a lengthy legal battle, purchased the name, the company and all of it's concepts for $2.7 million, making Kroc a cold-hearted business man in the eyes of many.

Until the day of his death, Ray Kroc contested that he never wanted to put Ray and Dick McDonald out of the company they built, however, in order to achieve his dreams of worldwide success, he felt that he had no choice.


Microsoft CEO, Bill Gates was given the opportunity to meet with IBM to discuss plans to distribute an operating system for IBM to use on their personal computers. Gates offered to license his operating system for the initial starting cost of $100,000. IBM accepted the deal and Gates went to work. However, there was just one small snag.....Gates and company didn't have an operating system to license to IBM, but they did know of a small, struggling, and virtually unknown software company in Seattle that went nearly bankrupt creating the operating system he needed. His partner, Paul Allen met with the small company in Seattle, and purchased the operating system and all of it's rights for $50,000. 

Gates made a few tweaks with the operating system he purchased, and would later present "his creation" to IBM, they fell in love with it and shortly thereafter, Microsoft became a major player in the software industry. All of the original Microsoft founders including Gates became some of the wealthiest people on Earth, and the rest is history. 

It wouldn't be the last time Gates would use questionable business methods for his creations. Gates and company also stole the original concept of operation system with a graphic interface (icons and drop-down menus) from Apple and created their Windows line of operation systems. 

The funny thing is, is that Apple stole the idea from Xerox, yup, engineers at Xerox are credited with creating the first operating system with a graphic interface, unfortunately, for the creators, the big wigs at Xerox laughed at the idea and offered it up to Apple assuming it was useless.

"If you do not know how to lie, cheat and steal, turn your attention to business and politics and learn from the best!!" -Josh Billings


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