American engineer and inventor having notably worked on the Cassini mission, the objective of which is to study the planet Saturn as well as a certain number of its satellites, Lonnie G. Johnson is at the origin of the design of the “Super Soaker”, a water jet gun.
A childhood turned to invention
Born October 6, 1949 in Mobile, Alabama, Lonnie G. Johnson is the originator of many inventions. His father, a World War II veteran, was a bus driver. As for her mother, she had two jobs: a laundry assistant and a nursing assistant.
A handyman at heart, Lonnie G. Johnson’s father taught his children to build their own toys. Since childhood, Lonnie G. Johnson has dreamed of becoming an internationally recognized inventor.
At the age of 13, Lonnie G. Johnson created a first machine. It was a kart made from parts from a scrapyard to which was added a lawn mower engine. He does not hesitate to drive his machine on the motorway not far from his home.
Curious by nature, Lonnie G. Johnson multiplies more or less hazardous experiences during his teenage years, to the point that he even almost set his parents’ house on fire. He was then trying to design gasoline for use in a rocket. Unfortunately, the pot he was using then literally exploded.
Raised during a time when racial segregation was considered legal, Lonnie G. Johnson studied at Williamson High School, a school for black people. Despite his blatant ability, teachers told him that he should aspire to a career as a technician, not to be an engineer or an inventor.
In 1968, Lonnie G. Johnson represented his school in the Alabama State Science Faire. The invention he presented? Linex: a compressed air robot made from spare parts. Lonnie G. Johnson was awarded the first prize.
In 1969, he joined Tuskegee University with a scholarship. With a degree in mechanics in 1973, he obtained a Masters in nuclear engineering in 1975.
Lonnie G. Johnson and the Super Soaker
Despite a successful career in the military, during which he worked on plutonium analysis, the stealth bomber, etc., Lonnie G. Johnson continues to develop new ideas at home.
In 1982, he finalized a prototype project which he tested in his bathroom. This is a water pump, not a freon one. By inserting the nozzle of the pump into the shower drain and pulling the pump lever, a flood of water squirts from the shower.
It was in 1989, after having left the army and created his own company, Johnson Research and Development, that Lonnie G. Johnson sold his invention “the Super Soaker”, a water pistol, to the larami Corporation, which quickly marketed the product. . The Super Soaker has been one of the 20 best-selling toys in the world since its inception.
A freelance inventor living outside of scientific circles, Lonnie G. Johnson has over a hundred licenses. Between the ceramic battery and the device of heatless curlers among others, not all of his inventions were a commercial success.
Now Lonnie G. Johnson is working on a new project: a thermoelectric energy converter designed to convert solar energy into electricity.