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The Great "Ah-Ha" Inspirational Moment in Innovation

Updated on May 5, 2013
The Model 914
The Model 914
Model A
Model A
Build a Bear- Maxine on the right
Build a Bear- Maxine on the right

Sometimes a great idea transcends into a great product after many years. Take Chester Carlson. Who is Chester, you ask. Chester was a patent attorney, so already, you know he made good money back in the day. He was laboriously making hand copies of nearly everything he wrote, as one does in the legal business. One day, he was in the law library doing what he always did, researching law to support cases and briefs, copying down lots of cases from case law books. That is when his "ah-ha" inspirational great idea occured.

To build a machine or device to make a copy of something. The year was 1938. After a few years of experimenting, the first dry-copier was made in his kitchen. Between 1939-44, he tried to sell his invention, even IBM was not interested. In was not until 1948 that Carlson was able to secure $100,000 in product development funds. Carlson was at the end had this money not appeared. The first commercial photocopier arrived in 1949 and it took 39 steps to get a dry paper copy. It was Ford Motor company that bought most of xerox machines and cut printing costs from $3 to just 40 cents a page. However, the modern copier, as we are all use in seeing, arrived in 1959, Model 914. It was not until the early 80's that color copiers appeared, able to only print primary colors at $3 each.

Most "ah-ha" moments begin as that. An awareness that something could be done better, or, something should be done to improve or make it better. Once you have found that "something" it takes dedication and money to see it become reality. One has to decide what to do with the idea and how do it. Look what others are doing and find how it could be done better. The idea can be simple.

How willing are you to turn the idea into a reality? Look at Chester, 10 years had gone by of trying with very little success as his life and real job moved on.

A more recent "ah-ha" moment is the "Build a Bear" retail now found in malls across America. how did this idea occur? What women love to do - shop! Maxine Clark and a friend went to a mall one day to find a cute stuffed bear. After hours of looking and finding none, them moment arrived: Why not just make your own within general parameters. This was in 1997. When she queried other adults, many would ask, " Why would you want to build your own stuffed toy"?

She now has 400 franchises.


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