Accidental innovation and encouragement

Louis Pasteur said that “chance favors the prepared mind.” To which I have always suggested that we go get prepared in case we might get lucky. I was talking to a high school friend this weekend who happens to have invented and patented the “on screen” television guides that have become ubiquitous. I asked him where that idea came from, and this is what he shared.

In the early 1980s he was watching cartoons with his son and they wondered what was on next. He reached over to look at the TV Guide and managed to spill the orange juice he had on his lap for his son. This frustration apparently triggered the “why can’t the guide be on the TV screen” idea. He came up with a way to do this, but at the time, the memory required to support the application would have cost about $500,000 per user. Not economically viable. His wife suggested that the cost of memory was dropping daily and by the time he finished perfecting how to do it, it might be economically viable.

She was a little off on her timing, but within 9 years it became viable, and as we all know, now it’s everywhere. Spilled orange juice, an open mind and a smart wife combined to create an innovation, which became a company.

Get prepared, you never know when the “chance” will arrive.


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