Lonnie Johnson: The Father of the Super Soaker

Lonnie Johnson: The Father of the Super Soaker
August 16 17:29 2016 Print This Article

(BBC) – Lonnie Johnson was brought up in Mobile, Alabama in the 1960s, when black children were not expected to go far, but such was his talent for engineering that he worked for Nasa, and helped test the first stealth bomber. But as he explains here, the invention that made his fortune was a water pistol – the extremely powerful Super Soaker.

I’ve always liked to tinker with things.

It started with my dad. He gave me my first lesson in electricity, explaining that it takes two wires for electric current to flow – one for the electrons to go in, the other for them to come out. And he showed me how to repair irons and lamps and things like that.

The kids in the neighbourhood took to calling me “the Professor”. We had little projects that we would work on, and I was the ringleader.

For example, I put together a working engine out of parts from a scrapyard, and we stuck that engine on one of our go-karts. It had thin wagon wheels instead of tyres, and the hood was just a crate. You controlled the steering with a piece of string.

It was not perfect. We had to push the car to get it going, but after that it could sustain itself. And we had a lot of fun with it – though we were stopped by the police, because the vehicle was not exactly street-legal.

About three years later I was stopped a second time, when I was cycling around with some sheet metal on the back of my bicycle.

I was scared, but the police officer just wanted to know what the heck I was up to. So he escorted me home and I showed him how I was making a robot just like the ones I saw on TV.

Nobody had told me that the robots I saw on shows like Lost In Space had actors inside them…

See the full article and images HERE