Since the dawn of mankind, inventors have been the creative and risk taking types that humanity has relied on for progress. However, there can be a real downside to being an innovator, especially when no one else is willing to be the “first” to try their product. Like the alchemists of medieval times, sometimes the very things that people have created have cost the creators their lives.
Some of the entrepreneurs and inventors on this list amassed fortunes during their lifetime, others did not. Wealthy or not all of the inventors on this list have one thing in common: they died in the most unfortunate and ironic way possible – these inventors were killed by their own inventions.
2. Franz Reichert
Franz Reichelt was a tailor by day, inventor by night who devoted all of his spare time to the design and development of the first parachute suit, which was inspired by the first airplane.
Reichelt was no idiot though. At least not yet. He conducted a number of successful tests using various mannequins before he summoned the courage to try it himself. Despite his friends attempts to dissuade him, and after seeking permission from French authorities, he climbed to the top of a tower and prepared to make the jump.
A hard working tailor by profession, this French inventor used to devote all of his free time in designing and developing a parachute suit design. His design was inspired by the idea of airplanes – airplanes at the time were just emerging on the horizon. After the considerable amount of successful tests with various mannequins, he was emboldened to try it himself.
After his friends unsuccessful attempts to dissuade him, he climbed the 187 foot tower in his self-made parachute suit. “I want to try the experiment myself and without trickery, as I intend to prove the worth of my invention,” he explained to a crowd of journalists and spectators.
Destiny had other plans however. Franz died instantly upon impact with the frozen land. The newspapers described his suit as “only a little more voluminous than ordinary clothing resembling a sort of cloak fitted with a vast hood of silk.” The squirrel suits of today are much better than the shoddy fabric Franz took on his first and final flight.
Popular Mechanics reported that “his body was a shapeless mass when the police picked it up.” By the time onlookers reached him, he was dead. Later an autopsy determined that he died of a heart attack during his fall.