Unlocking the Everyday: 10 Surprising Technologies Born from Government Research

Published: January 18, 2024

When we think of government research, visions of aviator sunglasses or military vehicles might come to mind, but the impact extends far beyond that. From lifesaving innovations to simply satisfying our taste buds, government research has given birth to numerous everyday items.

Here are ten technologies that you probably didn’t know emerged from government-backed research.

  1. Undershirts (1904): Undershirts were initially crafted to keep sailors dry under their uniforms.
  2. Aerosol Bug Spray (1941): Invented during World War II to repel mosquitos in the Pacific Theater and combat malaria.
  3. Duct Tape (1942): Johnson & Johnson introduced Duct Tape as a resilient adhesive material designed to withstand harsh environments during World War II.
  4. Super Glue (1942): Accidentally created by the Eastman Kodak company, Super Glue also found use in sealing wounds during the Vietnam War.
  5. Silly Putty (1943): A byproduct of U.S. rubber rationing in World War II, Silly Putty emerged from government-funded research on synthetic rubber compounds.
  6. Flu Shot (1945): While efforts to vaccinate against influenza began in the early 1900s, a government-funded flu inactivated vaccine gained approval during World War II.
  7. MRIs (1946): Magnetic Resonance Imaging traces its roots to 1946 research funded by the NSF, conducted by Stanford and Harvard researchers exploring nuclear magnetic resonance in liquids and solids.
  8. Cheetos (1948): Originating from the military’s quest for a durable and tasty cheese powder during World War II, USDA dairy scientists paved the way for the creation of Cheetos by Fritos.
  9. GPS (1960): The concept of satellite-based Global Positioning Systems was developed by Johns Hopkins University APL in 1960 for the U.S. government, overseen by the Navy through the mid-1960s.
  10. EpiPen (1973): Initially crafted for defense against chemical warfare by the Department of Defense, the EpiPen later evolved into a lifesaving device for allergic reactions, injecting epinephrine.

Makes you wonder what tools of tomorrow are currently in development. Rushlight Ventures works with Cornerstone Research Group (CRG) and other federally funded research organizations to help bring these innovations from the lab to the living room. Learn more about our work.