African Americans in Science and Technology
Courtesy of U.S. Patent Office.
Like so many famous inventions, the Super Soaker™, one of the bestselling toys of all time, was
discovered by accident. In 1982, NASA scientist Lonnie Johnson was experimenting at home for a Freon substitute, an
environmentally-damaging CFC used as a conductor in heat pumps. While tinkering with compressed air, Johnson accidentally
shot a spray of water across the room. The water had been propelled through a makeshift nozzle, and as a result was projected in
a path much like water exiting a squirt gun, though much more forcefully. A full prototype, called the Power Drencher, was developed
in 1989, and Johnson received a patent for the “Pinch Trigger Pump Water Gun” in 1991. That same year Johnson licensed
the Power Drencher to toy manufacturer Larami, Corporation, who rebranded it Super Soaker™. It is reported that the Super
Soaker™ has generated over $200 million dollars in sales since its introduction.