I have previously written about such great inventors as Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and Edwin H. Land (see: “Inventors & Scientists”, and, “Curiosity, Creativity, Inventiveness, and Individualism in Science”). Inventors generally are seen as being separate from scientific researchers or engineering developers, but all these people often have some of the same personal features, such as creativity, curiosity, drive to overcome difficulties, problem solving ability, and, recognition of causes and effects.
A prominent lifelong inventor in Germany, Artur Fischer, just passed away at age 96 and was the holder of over 1,100 patents [1-3]. That number is even greater than the giant number of patents held by Edison! Although every person reading this is using his inventions, almost nobody can name their discoverer! I will briefly describe his inventions and career below, so all of you can appreciate his wonderful human spirit.
Life activities of a great inventor! [1-3]
Born in a small town within Germany in 1919, Artur Fischer was educated in primary school followed by entrance into a vocational school. He stopped that and then began an apprenticeship with a locksmith at age 13. He never acquired a high school diploma, and it now is very obvious that he certainly did not need one!. Following military service in WW2, he returned home in 1946 and worked on small devices for an engineering company. At age 29 the young entrepreneur started his own company (see: http://www.fischer.de/en/Company/About-fischer ). Today, the resulting Fischer Group of companies is a very innovative, successful, and large German business employing over 4,000 people, having many subsidiaries and factories in Germany and other countries, and, marketing thousands of products around the world (see: http://www.fischer.de/en/Company ).
Throughout his life, Artur Fischer liked to think and do in a workshop, which served as his laboratory for experimentation. His mother had helped him set up a small workbench, thereby encouraging his early efforts. His father was a tailor. Typically, Fischer began his inventions by recognizing some practical or technical need or problem, and then visualizing what changes would accomplish the desired functional solution.
His first big invention involved something every photographer today takes for granted: the burst of light from a camera flash is timed to coincide with the opening of the camera shutter. In the earlier days of photography that was not the case. He invented a new method enabling this flash synchronization, and thereby finally obtained a flash photo of his infant daughter, and acquired his first patent (1949); that effort brought him much business success. He went on to apply this inventive approach to making improvements in a very wide variety of different objects (e.g., a universal holder for boiled chicken eggs that can accommodate a wide range of sizes, edible building blocks for use by very young children, educational toys, etc.).
His best known invention answered a very common question: how to attach screws into drywall or masonry? He came up with a new kind of compressible non-rotating plastic plug that was inserted into a small hole drilled in the wall; a screw then was worked into the inserted plug, causing that to expand so the screw became very firmly anchored. This revolutionary development in 1958, officially known as a Fischer screw anchor, is also called a wall plug, S-plug, dowel, or wall anchor. These fasteners are commonly used in construction and by just about everyone (i.e., to hang a picture or attach a shelf onto a wall). Millions of nylon screw anchors needed for this method now are made by mass production machines every day; they are widely popular everywhere because they are inexpensive and easy to use, work well, and come in a variety of sizes. Wall plugs continue to be developed further and now even can be made from green materials! Artur Fischer also developed modified versions of his wall plug that now are used by orthopedic surgeons to hold broken bones together while they heal (i.e., one really good invention often leads to others!).
Artur Fischer later established Fischertechnik, a new division in his thriving company (see: http://www.fischertechnik.de/en/home.aspx ). Very many children all around the globe know about the special construction toys produced and sold by this business. Although appearing to be similar to toys, these go far beyond that label and require assembly by the child before it can be used; there are various technical components that each young owner can add to their constructed toy. Thus, much hidden education is provided within these distinctive products (e.g., designing, dynamics, electrical engineering, mechanics, robotics, software, solar energy, etc.). They appeal to all modern boys and girls, but also are fascinating for adults to use!
Most recent events! [1-3]
For his long career as a tinkerer and prolific inventor, Artur Fischer recently was honored by the European Patent Office with the 2014 European Inventor Award for his lifetime achievements. The family-owned Fischer Group companies has been headed and expanded since 1980 by his son, Prof. Klaus Fischer; this large enterprise now is headed by the third generation grandson, Joerg Fischer.
Artur Fischer has just died, on January 27, 2016. So that you can get to know a little about this remarkable inventor and see how he thinks and works, I recommend watching 2 brief videos. First, view a 2014 instructive video, “Artur Fischer in His Own Words – Winner of the European Inventor Award 2014”; here, he tells how he invents and works (with captions translated into English). Second, watch a 2014 UK video describing his career activities, “Artur Fischer – Wall Plug, Synchronized Flash, and Many More” .
 European Patent Office, 2014. Artur Fischer (Germany). Available on the internet at: https://epo.org/learning-events/european-inventor/finalists/2014/fischer.html .
 Grimes, W., Feb. 8, 2016. Artur Fischer, Inventor With More Patents Than Thomas Edison, Dies at 96. The New York Times, International Business, page B12, available on the internet at: http://nytimes.com/2016/02/09/business/international/artur-fischer-inventor-with-more-patents-than-edison-dies-at-96.html .
 Obituaries, Jan. 28, 2016. Artur Fischer, inventor – obituary. The Telegraph (U.K.), available on the internet at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/12140534/Artur-Fischer-inventor-obituary.html .
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