Is any invention really original? (Including the origin of the Sandwich.)

People have always been trying to invent new, useful and as time went on, fun inventions. However there always seems to be something similar too it on the market. That’s because most people will get ideas from a range of products they’ve seen in their life, without even realising it. Even if the inventor spent most of their time isolated from everyone else they will all be united in design by similar needs and wants. So are all products some form of copy? Well the answer is simple, yes.

The Sandwich

An example of a mistaken “new” invention is the sandwich which is said to have been invented by, funnily enough, the Earl of Sandwich in Britain. Sandwich was an area of Kent in which the Earl lived. The story goes that one day the Earl was playing a game of cards and eating meat at the same time. Not wanting to get his deck of cards covered in grease he sent a servent to fetch some bread in which to use as a may of keeping his hands clean. He ate the first sandwich and of course it was named after him as he was a powerful man and “discovered” it although he could have easily claimed the idea of a peasant and had them silenced if they spoke out.

However this isn’t true. Although the Earl didn’t know it sandwiches had been invented in first century BC at a passover meal although it could have easily been much earlier. The Earl simply gave his name to what had previously been known as:

“bread and meat” or “bread and cheese”.

Which, not meaning to refer back to the old sterotype of peasants being thick, was a terrible name. He may have thought it was an original idea as he would have spent all his life eating meat like any rich person rather than bread.

The Present

Inventors have realised that all good inventions are based on old products and now actively encourage it. Rather than making a completely new product inventors now rely on a process similar to evolution. Certain features are changed, some completely new features (inspired by technology) come along and at the end an almost perfect product is formed. As with evolution it then carries on improving. So no products are completely original but every one is a one-off, there isn’t another one like it and it will inspire the future who will then improve upon it yet again.

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