Creativity out of Crisis: Top 10 Works
Updated: Apr 28, 2020
Over the course of history plagues, disasters, and crises have occurred. Although times of uncertainty can bring about hardship they can also bring about creativity. The same is true during this Coronavirus pandemic.
1606 - King Lear by Shakespeare
During the quarantine of the bubonic plague or the Black Death, Shakespeare
had nothing else to do than write King Lear secluded in London on lock down. King Lear became one of the most beloved plays of all time which was followed by Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra.
1665 - Law of Gravity by Sir Isaac Newton
Also affected by the bubonic plague, Sir Isaac Newton had to retreat to Woolsthorpe Manor outside of London where he was studying at Cambridge to escape the last epidemic in 1665. During this time he developed the Law of Gravity while in quarantine and authored several papers on the to-be discovered calculus.
1851 - Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Before Les Miserables was a hit production, it was a large scholarly book written by Victor Hugo in France. The book was a blatant criticism to Napoleon III and fled Belgium into self isolation to avoid retribution. Hugo ended up on the Island of Guernsey where he spent 20 years and wrote numerous pieces including three poetry books and Les Miserables.
1910 - Electric Razor by Colonel Jacob Schick
While recuperating from injury, Colonel Jacob Schick thought of the electric razor in Alaska where he was fed up shaving with freezing cold water. Although manufacturers rejected the idea because the design was too bulky he didn't give up despite enlisting for World War I. After the war, Schick went back to the drawing board with a new idea inspired by weaponry - repeating firearms in razors with replaceable blades. This new model became a huge success and is still used today. If the Colonel had not returned to the military, he may not have had this creative revelation.
1922 - Self Potrait by Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo was no stranger to misfortune. At only six years old Frida was diagnosed with polio which was followed by a long time of bed rest. At 18 years old crashed with a streetcar and suffered a fractured spine and pelvis and stuck in bed for another extended period of time. During her healing process she realized her passion for art and painted her first self portrait which she used the mirror above her bed for reference.
1929 - The Tampon by Dr. Earle Haas
Ironically during the Great Depression, the tampon was invented by a man-Dr. Earle Haas who had great sympathy for his wife during her painful menstrual cycles which limited her from doing most activities such as swimming with him. Pads were completely impractical so he began to invent what we know as the modern day tampon. Haas chose compressed cotton, also known as Tamponades, used during operations. Once he designed the applicator his product was ready for market.
1930 - The Car Radio by Paul & Joseph Galvin
While on a double date during the tail end of the Great Depression, these brothers realized the need for car radios when one of their dates wanted to listen to music while in their car up on a lookout. The brothers were inspired by the victrola (the record player) and sold their revolutionary invention as the Motorola. Over the course of their careers, they made a deal with Ford, police departments, and fire departments. This is the perfect example of necessity being the mother of innovation and it just so happened on a double date.
1943 - The First Computer by the Bletchley Park Crew
During World War II encryption played a crucial role by saving lives in the warfield. But Germans were darn good at complicating the lives of Allied code breakers, specifically the Bletchley Park crew of brainiacs was held responsible with breaking the Enigma and Lorenz machines. When they faced failure, British mathematician, Bill Tutte employed statistics to decode the two-layered encryption and automate the process. Max Newman and Tommy Flowers created a vacuum tube machine to deduct settings and assist code breakers in deciphering the intercepted messages. In December 1943 Colossus Mark 1 was born. It was the first electronic, programmable computer. The second generation of Colossus was ready six months later right around the time of D-Day. The major success was the discovery that Colossus was programmable to perform new tasks.
1994 - Amazon by Jeff Bezos
The world's leading eCommerce platform was founded right before the Dot Com Crash that lasted from 1995 to 2001. Jeff Bezos admits in his book, The Everything Store, that Amazon would have filed for bankruptcy during the wake of the bubble burst had they not found a way to raise money. Warren Jenson, CFO at Delta, advised that the company more cash to hedge against anxious merchants who may increase product prices. The co-head of Morgan Stanley’s global-technology group, Ruth Porat, suggested that Jeff tap into the Europe so he sold $672 million in bonds to private investors. The transaction was done a month before the stock market crash. Without that financial backing, Amazon may have been insolvent within the next year.
2020 - Immutouch by Matthew & Joseph Toles
Another pair of entrepreneurial brothers are responding to the Coronavirus with an invention to prevent contracting the virus. The Slightly Robot bracelet vibrates every time someone tries to touch their face and looks nice too. In addition to helping prevent the spread of the current pandemic, new product helps people control other ailments too such as skin picking (Dermatillomania), hair pulling (Trichotillomania), and nail biting (Onychophagia). This timely invention has been so successful that it sold out quickly and bracelets are on back order.
What will you create during this crisis and how can Creative Compass help you realize your vision?