Nerf guns, or if you go by the terminology of the company and use a Nerf blaster, were invented by Lonnie Johnson. Johnson and his development group made the news in 2013 because the outcome of a 3 year lawsuit regarding the infringement of patent rights against Hasbro was arbitrated in his favor and Johnson was given a $73 million royalty for his product because Hasbro created infringement products on his patents for the various Nerf guns he created over the years, including toy guns that contained magazines.
Lonnie Johnson, who is a former NASA scientist, holds a doctorate degree from Tuskegee. Born in 1949 and with research in the Air Force being credited for space and stealth technology advancements, he is credited with over 90 different inventions. Here are just a few of the highlights.
The Super Soaker
Johnson had a dream of eliminating Freon from the heat pumps that were in existence during the time and replacing them with a simple water formula. He got his first prototype constructed at home in 1982, put the nozzle in the bathtub, and a huge stream of powerful water blasted out. After 7 years of trying to sell the invention, he turned to the Larami Corporation [which became part of Hasbro] and turned it into one of the best selling toys of his generation.
Portable Multimedia Projection System
Johnson put together a portable system for a multimedia projection system that includes a DVD player, a channel tuner, a device to assist with the projection of an image, and a receiver that is operated by remote control. He fine-tuned this invention over the years so that it could be used on a variety of devices, including DLP and LCD technology. Remember – a majority of the inventions that occur are simply significant improvements on existing technology in some way.
Toy Rocket Launchers
With a manual air pump that is tied to a base with a pressure tube, a rocket can be launched with just air thanks to this invention. There is a launch tube that is connected to a pressure chamber and this helps to create the lift of the rocket when the pressure is released. If you’ve ever launched a pop bottle rocket before, this is the concept that Johnson was recreating, but in a more traditional form of a rocket. Of course a NASA scientist would think up a toy like this.
Magnetic Propulsion Toys
Johnson also adapted a design to have toys be powered by magnets over the course of a racetrack. His invention has a car that is made from a magnetic material and this runs through a boost station that is controlled with a power source that fuels the power of the magnetized car. As the vehicle goes around the track, it is continuously propelled forward because of the force of the magnetic field generated by the boost station.