Lonnie Johnson (inventor)

Lonnie Johnson (inventor)

"Lonnie Johnson" (born October 6, 1949) is best known as the inventor of the Super Soaker water gun. The top selling toy in the United States in 1991 and 1992, and Super Soakers have generated over $1 billion in sales since 1990. Today, many websites are devoted to them.

Johnson is president and founder of Johnson Research and Development Co., Inc., a technology development company, and its spin off companies, Excellatron Solid State, LLC; Johnson Electro-Mechanical Systems, LLC; and Johnson Real Estate Investments, LLC.

Articles on Lonnie Johnson have appeared in numerous publications including Time Magazine, the New York Times, and Inventor’s Digest. Johnson serves on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Alliance for Children, an organization which serves as an informed and influential voice to protect the rights and interests of Georgia’s less fortunate children. He is a Board member of the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation, and has served on the Board of Directors of the Commonwealth National Bank.

In his hometown of Marietta, Georgia, February 25, 1994 was declared "Lonnie G. Johnson Day" in his honor.


Johnson graduated from Williamson High School In Mobile, Alabama and holds a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering, an M.S. degree in Nuclear Engineering, and an honorary Ph.D. in Science from Tuskegee University.

US Air Force days

Upon graduation, he worked as a research engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and then joined the U. S. Air Force, serving as Acting Chief of the Space Nuclear Power Safety Section at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In 1979, he left the Air Force to accept a position as Senior Systems Engineer at the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where he worked on the Galileo mission to Jupiter.

Returning to the Air Force in 1982, he served as an Advanced Space Systems Requirements Officer at Strategic Air Command (SAC) headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska, and as Chief of the Data Management Branch, SAC Test and Evaluation Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base in California. He was awarded the Air Force Achievement Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal on two different occasions.

In 1987, he returned to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he worked on the Mars Observer project and was the fault protection engineer during the early stages of the Cassini (Saturn) project. He was responsible for ensuring that single point spacecraft failures would not result in loss of the mission. During his nine year career with JPL, he received multiple achievement awards from NASA for his work in spacecraft system design.

Engineering firms

In 1989, Johnson formed his own engineering firm and licensed his most famous invention, the Super Soaker water gun, to Larami Corporation. Two years later, the Super Soaker generated over $200 million in retail sales, and became the number one selling toy in America. Larami Corporation was eventually purchased by Hasbro, the second largest toy manufacturer in the world. Over the years, Super Soaker sales have totaled close to one billion dollars. Currently, Lonnie Johnson holds over 80 patents, with over 20 more pending, and is the author of several publications on spacecraft power systems.

Energy technology

Two of Johnson’s companies, Excellatron Solid State and Johnson Electro-Mechanical Systems (JEMS), are developing energy technology.


Excellatron is introducing thin film batteries, a new generation of rechargeable battery technology which has significantly better abilities than the current industry leader Li-ion.


JEMS has developed a thermodynamic energy conversion technology that converts thermal energy to electrical energy with significant advantages over alternative systems.


External links

* [http://web.mit.edu/invent/iow/johnson.html Inventor of the Week bio, MIT]
* [http://www.kiplinger.com/magazine/archives/2007/03/millionaire.html Kiplinger Finance Magazine, March 2007 issue]
* [http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/earth/4243793.html Super Soaker Inventor Aims to Cut Solar Costs in Half]
* [http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/mar08/6079 Super Soaker Inventor Invents New Thermoelectric Generator]
* [http://www.excellatron.com/ Excellatron]
* [http://www.johnsonems.com/ Johnson Electro-Mechanical Systems (JEMS)]

NAME= Johnson, Lonnie
SHORT DESCRIPTION=American inventor
DATE OF BIRTH=October 6, 1949

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