Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Forgotten Creative Genius No 2.

Today, I asked seven advertising creatives these two questions.
Have you heard of Benjamin Franklin? 
Do you know what he did?

All seven said they had heard the name and that Franklin was once an American President. 

Only one of the seven respondents said that Franklin was the guy who signed The Declaration Of Independence.

So, I thought I would add Benjamin Franklin's name to my 'Forgotten Creative Genii' section.  And here's why.

Franklin was a crazy, mad cap inventor who was also a humanitarian, businessman, army leader, statesman, philanthropist, writer, wit and intellect. 

He was someone who was just at home experimenting with dark materials in his lab and chasing lightening bolts as he was sitting in his study writing witty, erudite journalism and business strategies.

If you mesh the madness of Doc Brown from 'Back To The Future' with the business acumen of Steve Jobs and the nobility of Ghandi, you get somewhere close to the man.

Franklin invented the first American musical instrument,  the glass harmonica. It created musical tones by using different sized glass bowls. 

He fitted the legs of his armchair with curved pieces of wood and made an invention that is still widely used today. 
It's called the rocking chair.

Franklin loved electrical experiments. He introduced new terminology to explain the concepts he was working with, such as “positive” and “negative” charge. He coined many electrical terms including the word, 'battery'.

Franklin had an aversion to fire which explains why he  invented the lightening rod, formed the first fire brigade and established an insurance company to insure locals against losing their possessions in fires. 

Whenever Franklin encountered a problem he came up with a simple, creative solution.

The books on the top shelf in his study were too high for him to reach so he invented a long armed book grabber, not dissimilar from the grabber that modern street cleaners use today. 

Franklin's brother had kidney stones and was in a lot of pain when using a rigid catheter.  So he invented the flexible catheter which was simple and more comfortable.  

In later life he got tired of changing his glasses from long to near sight. So he invented the bifocal spectacles.

He invented the Pro and Con list. The first documented  Pro and Con list making technique comes from Franklin. … my Way is, to divide half a Sheet of Paper by a Line into two Columns, writing over the one Pro, and over the other Con. 1772

Ben Franklin owned his first company at the age of 22, the Pennsylvania Gazette newspaper. He also had a printing company which printed money for Pennsylvania and Delaware.

He invented a new phonetic alphabet getting rid of the letters c, j, q, w, x, and y, and adding other letters for certain sounds to help improve people's spelling. 

He invented the oven, the Franklin Stove, which produced more heat and less smoke than a conventional open fireplace.

He founded the first U.S. hospital, the first police department and two colleges.

And if that that wasn't enough he also founded the first U.S. postal system and the first circulating library.

In 1758. Franklin pioneered the idea of air conditioning and refrigeration. Working with Hadley, another scientist, they successfully cooled a volatile liquid to 7 degrees Fahrenheit.

He was a prolific writer and wrote dozens of books including 'The Way To Wealth' and 'Wit and Wisdom'. He often wrote under pseudonyms like Silence Dogwood, Caelia Shortface, Anthony Afterwit, Alice Addertongue and Busy Body

Franklin was a joker and drew the first cartoon to appear in an American newspaper and was considered to be America's first writer of humour.

Franklin started The Society To Abolish Slavery and The American Philosophical Society.

He mapped the Gulf Stream and designed sea anchors. 

He also designed a new version of the indoor toilet which used the waste water in his bath as a flushing system.

As an avid swimmer he came up with the idea of swim fins. Flippers for the  hands to help people swim faster. 

He also created a fold up chair with steps. 
This, of course, was the first step ladder.

He never took out a patent on any of his ideas because he wanted as many people to benefit from them as possible.

Although, that didn't stop him from becoming America's first millionaire.
Franklin was a bit like 'Rambo'. He raised £3000 to purchase cannons to defend against Dutch and French and organized his own militia when the local government was hesitant to do so.

He was a Founding Father of the Continental Congress and yes, he signed The Declaration of Independence and The United States Constitution.
Benjamin Franklin never stopped having ideas and implementing them. His radical lunatic concepts shaped millions of lives across the globe.

Franklin was many things.

The one thing he wasn't, of course, was an American President.


Benjamin Franklin died in 1790 aged 84. 

20,000 people attended his funeral. 



1 comment:

  1. 20,000 people at his funeral. There were only 27 at mine. Brian.