5 amazing almost-inventions that never came to fruition

5 amazing almost-inventions that never came to fruition
October 17, 2019 Prime Engineering

Invention is the foundation of engineering, technology, science and society as we know it today. From computers to cars to phones, we utilise many groundbreaking inventions every single day without giving it too much thought. However, throughout history, there have been many inventions which have come very close to being completed but, in the end, never came to fruition. Read about 5 of the most amazing and shocking almost-inventions below:

The Thought Camera

Nikola Tesla is considered one of the greatest inventors of all time and Elon Musk even named his car company after him. Nikola Tesla has contributed massively to the progress of engineering and technology, but it seems some of his inventions just weren’t meant to be. One of his most extravagant almost-inventions was the thought camera.

Tesla had a theory that it would be possible to photograph a person’s thoughts. In a 1933 interview, he stated to the press, “In 1893, while engaged in certain investigations, I became convinced that a definite image formed in thought, must by reflex action, produce a corresponding image on the retina, which might be read by a suitable apparatus… it is [then] a mere question of illuminating the same property and taking photographs”. While this invention has failed to materialise thus far, many scientists and engineers have agreed that it shouldn’t be ruled out as a possibility in the future.

A Super Carburettor

In 1977, Tom Ogle revealed his invention of an extremely efficient, fuel-injected engine. He revealed his invention after installing it in the body of a 1970 Ford Galaxie which, with its normal engine, travelled for about 13 miles per gallon of fuel. Ogle’s modified version achieved a massive 100 miles to the gallon, a feat which had never before been achieved and which hasn’t been achieved since.

Shortly after revealing his invention, Ogle was asked by a journalist if he feared that oil companies would come after him. He responded saying, “Not anymore. I’ve had too much publicity. If I’d kept my invention a secret I might be worrying”. Three years later, Tom Ogle suddenly collapsed and died under somewhat mysterious circumstances. Since Ogle hadn’t shared the secrets of his super-efficient carburettor with anyone, the invention died with him.


The cloudbuster is a device invented by an Austrian psychoanalyst named Wilhelm Reich. Reich claimed that this could produce rainclouds and therefore rain by manipulating the energy that’s present in the atmosphere. The idea was that the cloudbuster would be placed in a body of water and pointed towards the sky, creating a concentration of rain. Such an invention would have solved droughts all over the world. Unfortunately, while the machine was physically created, there is no evidence to prove that it actually worked. In 1985, the famous singer Kate Bush released a song named ‘Cloudbusting’ which was inspired by Reich’s machine.

Wireless Airships

While wireless charging for mobile phones only became available to the public around six years ago, Nikola Tesla had a theory in 1919 that he could create a supersonic airship which would be powered only by towers on the ground, which would wirelessly transmit electricity to the airships through the atmosphere. These ships would have been capable of flying 40,000 feet above ground at a speed of over 1,600 km/h (1,000 m/ph) which would make the trip from Sydney to Perth just 2 hours long.

An Anti-Gravity Device

In 1956, it was announced that the American inventor Thomas Townsend Brown was on the cusp of creating a device which would be capable of manipulation gravity including the creation of an anti-gravity space. Several global aerospace companies became interested and involved in Brown’s research before it became a classified subject a year later in 1957, with little documentation on the device dating beyond that year.

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