Monday, October 20, 2008

Austin Kness

"All you need to do to become a millionaire is invent a better mouse trap." Entrepreneur Austin Kness did just that in the 1920s when he made the first major improvement on James Atkinson's Little Nipper. Kness invented a mouse trap that required no bait, caught the mouse alive, and could catch multiple mice at once without needing reset.

Kness called his new invention the Kness Ketch-All Multiple Catch mousetrap. He started Kness Mfg. in 1927 to sell his new product, however the company closed during the Great Depression. Kness reopened the business in the late 1930s and the company has since enjoyed tremendous success; expected revenues for 1999 were 5 million dollars.

Kness invented the new mouse trap because, while working as a janitor in a high school, he was having to set multiple traps every evening and then empty the traps in the morning. Kness came up with a solution to his problem by inventing a more efficient mouse trap, making his job easier and all our lives richer.

Kness success in improving mouse traps is rare. It appears slightly harder to become a millionaire than just inventing a better mouse trap, the US Patent office has issued over 4400 patents on mouse traps. However, only 20 percent of those patents have made any money.

Sources:
About.com History of the Mouse Trap
Enquirer.com Mousetrap maker snares sales

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