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BLKISH Forums African-American Inventors and Scientists Super Soaker | Lonnie Johnson (Inventor)


  • Super Soaker | Lonnie Johnson (Inventor)


    November 1, 2020 at 10:34 am

    Lonnie Johnson, Office of Naval Research (crop).jpgLonnie George Johnson (born October 6, 1949) is an American inventor, aerospace engineer, and entrepreneur, whose work history includes a U.S. Air Force term of service and a twelve-year stint at NASA, including the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He invented the Super Soaker water gun in 1990, which has been among the world’s bestselling toys ever since.[2]

    Super Soaker

    Johnson conceived the Super Soaker while doing work with the U.S. Air Force. Initially it was called the “Power Drencher” when it appeared in toy shops in 1990, but after some tweaks and remarketing, it got its name.[13] Selling between $10 to $60 depending on the model, the Super Soaker took off, generating $200 million in sales in 1991.[2] Shortly after making the deal for the Super Soaker with the Larami Corporation, Larami became a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc. in February 1995.[16]

    Johnson tweaked the design of the water gun, replacing the water in the Super Soaker with a “toy [Nerf] projectile.” In 1996, Johnson received A U.S. Patent 5553598 A [17] for “Pneumatic launcher for a toy projectile and the like.”

    In February 2013, Johnson filed suit against Hasbro after he discovered that he was being underpaid royalties for the Super Soaker and several Nerf line of toys.[18] In November 2013, Johnson was awarded nearly $73 million in royalties from Hasbro Inc. in arbitration. According to Hasbro, the Super Soaker is approaching sales of $1 billion.[19]

    Early life and education

    Johnson was born in MobileAlabama.[3] His father was a World War II veteran and his mother worked as a nurse’s aide. He stated that he had “liked to tinker with things” from an early age when his father explained to him the basic principles of electricity.[4]

    In his teenage years, Johnson attended the all-black Williamson High School in Mobile.[5] He drew much of his inspiration from George Washington Carver.[6] In 1968, Johnson represented his high school in the Alabama science fair. He was the only black student in the fair at a time when African Americans did not have much presence in science.[4] He created a robot he named “Linex”, which was a compressed-air powered robot and took home first prize.[4]

    After graduating from high school, Johnson attended Tuskegee University, obtaining a B.S. in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in nuclear engineering.[2][7] He also holds an honorary Ph.D. in Science from Tuskegee University.[8] He then worked for the U.S. Air Force, and then joined NASA‘s jet propulsion laboratory in 1979.[3]

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