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LonnieJohnson

Lonnie Johnson is the inventor of the Super Soaker line, as well as several Nerf products in the 1990s.

He created over sixty Super Soaker patents in his career. Aside from this, he is also a scientist and the owner of two companies. He is believed to have stopped designing Super Soakers with the demise of Larami.

History

Lonnie Johnson was born in October 6, 1949, in Mobile, Alabama. Since he was a child, his curiosity has been a prominent trace of his personality, going from building a go-kart from a lawnmower engine attached to a box, to almost burning his own house down while trying to produce rocket fuel. Later, he attended Williamson High School in Mobile and, eventually, Tuskegee University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1973. Two years later, he recieved his master's degree in Nuclear Engineering.

After that, he joined the U.S. Air Force, becoming an important member of the government scientific establishment. He was assigned to the Strategic Air Command, where he helped develop the stealth bomber program. Johnson moved on to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1979, working as a systems engineer for the Galileo mission to Jupiter and the Cassini mission to Saturn, before returning to the Air Force in 1982.

Creation of the Super Soaker

Johnson continued to pursue his own inventions in his spare time, being one of them an environmentally friendly heat pump that used water instead of Freon. In 1982, Johnson finally completed a prototype which turned out to be the inspiration for his Super Soaker. He started to experiment with the idea, and applied for a U.S. patent in October 14, 1983, receiving it in May 27, 1986[1].

In 1989, after seven years of tinkering and tireless sales-pitching, during which he left the Air Force to go into business for himself, Johnson finally sold his device to the Larami Corporation, which started selling it as the Power Drencher; it was renamed to Super Soaker in 1990, which was the name the brand adopted for itself. In 1991, it topped two-hundred million dollars in sales, and even today it still annually ranks among the world's Top 20 best-selling toys.

When Hasbro bought Larami in 1995, Johnson branched out and began designing Nerf blasters too, with some of his concepts that are still in use today.[2]

References

  1. US4591071A - Squirt gun. Google Patents. Archived from the original on 2019-10-19. Retrieved on 2017-08-20.
  2. US5553598 - Pneumatic launcher for a toy projectile and the like. Google Patents. Archived from the original on 2019-10-19. Retrieved on 2017-08-20.
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