List of inventors killed by their own inventions

This is a list of inventors who have been killed by inventions they designed or were involved in.

* Alexander Bogdanov (1873 – 1928), a physician and scientist, conducted an experiment for a "rejuvenation" technique wherein he deliberately gave himself a transfusion of blood from a student who suffered from malaria and tuberculosis. He died of the subsequent infections.
* William Bullock (1813 - 1867), had his foot crushed while trying to repair a rotary printing press that he had invented. The resulting infection would later prove fatal.
* Cowper Phipps Coles (1819 - 1870), an English Naval Captain, built a turret ship, the HMS Captain, in 1866. In 1870, the ship capsized, due to errors in design, killing Coles and most of its 500-person crew.
* Marie Curie (1867 – 1934) invented the process to isolate radium after co-discovering the radioactive elements radium and polonium. She died of aplastic anemia as a result of exposure to ionizing radiation. Radiation's damaging effects were not yet known.
* Otto Lilienthal (1848 – 1896), died from injuries sustained two days earlier in a crash of one of his hang gliders.
* Thomas Midgley, Jr. (1889 – 1944), accidentally strangled himself with the cord of a pulley-operated mechanical bed of his own design.
** It is worth noting that he also invented leaded petrol and may well have died from polio (had he not been killed) which was attributed to him being weakened by lead poisoning.
* William Nelson (died 1903), an inventor and General Electric employee, rode off a hill while testing a new motor he made for his bicycle, and was killed instantly. [ [ KILLED BY OWN INVENTION.; While Trying Motor Bicycle He Had Made, Schenectady Man Meets Death - Article Preview - The New York Times] ]
* Aurel Vlaicu (1882 – 1913), trying to cross the Carpathian Mountains, died in a crash flying his own plane "Vlaicu II".
* Henry Winstanley (1644-1703) was killed in a storm while inside the lighthouse of his own design, after expressing a wish to be inside it during "the greatest storm there ever was."

Popular myths

* Joseph-Ignace Guillotin (1738 – 1814), the supposed inventor of the guillotine, did not himself directly invent it and did not die by it.
* The Biblical Haman (circa 4th Century BC) did not invent the gallows — he was simply hanged on the particular gallows he had built.

Honorable mention

Perillos of Athens (died sometime within 570 - 554 BC) was commissioned to build an execution/torture device by Phalaris, Tyrant of Agrigentum, called the Brazen bull. The Brazen bull was essentially a "human crucible" which burned the condemned alive. A complicated system of tubes made the screams of the dying man sound like the bellowing of a bull. To test the invention, Phalaris actually locked Perillos inside and set a fire under the bull. Although he removed the inventor before he could die, Phalaris killed him afterward by throwing him from the top of a hill. Phalaris himself is said to have been killed in the brazen bull when he was overthrown by Telemachus. Thus, although the inventor was not killed "by" his invention, he was killed "as a result" of his invention, and his employer "was" killed by it.

See also

* List of unusual deaths
* Darwin Awards



Further reading


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