Three Inventions That Made My Summers Fun

By Eileen McDermott
August 3, 2019

As we enter the August heat, it’s worth remembering some of the patents that have made summers more bearable through the years, for kids and adults alike. Below are three that stand out from my lifetime—unfortunately, the oft-cited on IPWatchdog and now-popular Bunch O’ Balloons toy was well after my time.

Let us know in the comments which inventions made your summers cooler.

The Slip’n Slide

In 1960, Robert Carrier applied for a patent on the “Aquatic Play Equipment” that would eventually be marketed by Wham-O as the Slip’n Slide. Brutal but exhilarating, the Slip’n Slide was inspired by the then apparently common practice of “body planing” in shallow water and mud, according to Carrier’s patent application. His device was meant to improve upon this sport and make it safer—although the toy was still recalled in 1993 due to a risk of spinal cord injuries. Potential paralysis aside, this was the quintessential suburban summer activity of the 1990s.

The Super Soaker

With 80-plus patents and more pending on a range of technologies, from toys to thermo-electric converters, Lonnie Johnson has been inventing all of his life. When I interviewed him for the Intellectual Property Owners Education Foundation two years ago, Johnson said that he began inventing toys because he couldn’t get anyone interested in more complex technologies. His first invention to make it to market was the Jammin’ Jet, in 1987, although the idea for the Super Soaker came first. By 1992, the Super Soaker was the number one selling toy in the world. Today, Johnson has turned from toys to inventions such as the Johnson Thermo-Electrochemical Converter, which won the Popular Mechanics’ 2008 Breakthrough Award. He also is head of Johnson Research and Development and runs programs aimed at attracting underrepresented youth to STEM fields.

The Snow Cone Maker

I was endlessly jealous of friends who had a personal snow cone machine. They didn’t even taste that good, it was just fun to make them. While they had been around for a while before he patented the machine, Samuel Bert’s invention made snow cones a household name. This Snoopy Sno-Cone Maker is the one I remember best.


For more summer-focused patents over the years, see the following articles:

Summer Fun Patent Style:

Patentable Fun at the Beach

Cool Wearable Innovations to Help You Beat the Summer Heat

Evolution of Tech: Willis Carrier helps us beat the summer heat with the invention of air conditioning


The Author

Eileen McDermott

Eileen McDermott is the Editor-in-Chief of Eileen is a veteran IP and legal journalist, and no stranger to the intellectual property world, having held editorial and managerial positions at several publications and industry organizations. She has acted as editorial consultant for the International Trademark Association (INTA), chiefly overseeing the editorial process for the Association’s twice-monthly newsletter, the INTA Bulletin. Eileen has also served as a freelance editor for the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO); as senior consulting editor for the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) from 2015 to 2017; as Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief at INTA from 2013 to 2016; and was Americas Editor for Managing Intellectual Property magazine from 2007 to 2013.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author as of the time of publication and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of Read more.

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There are currently 1 Comment comments.

  1. Concerned August 3, 2019 5:58 pm

    Future generations #4: Mr Malone’s bunch of balloons.

    Thank you for the fun article.