Products that were invented by accident:

Plastic

Shellac was made from expensive Asian beetles and used as insulation in electronics. Leo Hendrik Baekeland thought he could produce a shellac alternative and his failed experiments yielded a mold-able material, now called plastic.

Radioactivity

Physicist Henri Becquerel ran a series of experiments to see if naturally fluorescent minerals produced X-rays. One day he realized that the uranium rock he had left in the drawer had imprinted itself on a photographic plate without being exposed to sunlight first.

Mauve

William Perkin, an 18-year-old chemist, wanted to cure malaria but his experiments produced a thick murky mess which turned out to be the first-ever synthetic dye. German bacteriologist Paul Ehrlich then used William Perkin’s dyes to pioneer immunology and chemotherapy.

Pacemaker

American engineer Wilson Greatbatch wanted to create a circuit to help record fast heart sounds. He reached into a box and pulled out a 1-megaohm resistor instead of a 10,000-ohm one.

Penicillin

In 1928 Alexander Fleming didn’t clean up his workstation before going on holiday and when he came back he noticed a strange fungus on some of his cultures but not on certain other cultures. Penicillin became the first and is still one of the most widely used antibiotics.