Which Beloved Summer Time Toy Was Invented By A Rocket Scientist?
Answer: The Super Soaker
Super Soakers, those powerful top-tier water guns that every kid craves to dominate the neighborhood water wars, are the brain child of accomplished scientist and inventor Lonnie G. Johnson.
While Johnson has a commendable list of accomplishments under his belt–including work on the Galileo Jupiter probe and the Mars Observer projects as well as over 80 patents on everything from high-efficiency batteries to portable projection systems–he is destined to go down in history as the inventor of one of the best selling toys of the 1990s: the Super Soaker.
In 1982 Johnson was working on a heat pump system that used pressurized water instead of Freon. When one of the hoses broke free and sent a blast of water shooting across his workspace, his inner child took note and he soon began work on a pressurized squirt gun. This prototypical Super Soaker, known then as the Power Drencher, was one of Johnson’s side projects throughout the 1980s. In 1989 the product was polished enough to be pitched to a company capable of mass-producing it. He formed his own engineering firm and approached the Larami Corporation. The toy company clearly saw the sales potential for a squirt gun that was ten fold stronger than any other squirt gun on the market and carried significantly more water.
The squirt gun, still called the Power Drencher, hit the shelves in 1990. In 1991 it was rebranded the Super Soaker and heavily promoted with a series of TV ad spots. By the end of 1992 Larami had sold over 200 million dollars worth of Super Soakers. The Super Soaker was so successful that Hasbro, one of the largest toy companies in the world, bought our Larami just to acquire the rights to it. Over one billion dollars worth of Super Soakers have been sold since its introduction in 1990.