Artur Fischer, Inventor With More Patents Than Edison, Dies at 96
Artur Fischer, a German inventor who registered more than 1,100 patents, including the first synchronized camera flash and an anchor that millions of do-it-yourselfers use to secure screws into walls, died on Jan. 27 at his home in Waldachtal, in southwestern Germany. He was 96.His death was announced by his company, the Fischer Group.
Mr. Fischer, a locksmith by training and an obsessive tinkerer, came up with his first patented invention in 1947, when he wanted to take pictures of his newborn daughter.
“At the time, you could only use a powder flash for interior shots, which you had to ignite with a cord,” he told the magazine Der Spiegel in 2015. “It was dangerous, and the picture quality was poor because the subject usually blinked at the flash.”
He came up with a synchronized mechanism that triggered the flash when the shutter was released. The device was bought by Agfa, a large camera company, and Mr. Fischer was on his way, coming up with hundreds of solutions to nagging technical problems over the next seven decades.
In 1958, he addressed a problem faced by construction workers and home-repair amateurs alike: how to insert a screw securely into plaster or drywall. He devised a nylon plug with a split tip to be inserted into a drilled hole. As the screw turned, the plug prevented it from dislodging the plaster. As the screw advanced toward the tip, the anchor expanded, pressing tightly against the hole. Two anti-rotation fins on the plug wedged into the plaster, keeping the anchor securely in place.
This was the proverbial better mousetrap, a major improvement from the hemp-filled metal anchors then in use. Today, about 14 million of Mr. Fischer’s plugs are produced every day around the world.
“What Bill Gates was to the personal computer, Artur Fischer is to do-it-yourself home repair,” Der Spiegel wrote in its interview.
Mr. Fischer’s other inventions included Fischertechnik model-making kits, cup holders with retractable lids, ventilation nozzles and edible play-modeling material made from potato starch.
“I am interested in any problem to which I can provide a solution,” Mr. Fischer told the German magazine Technology Review in 2007.
His total number of inventions put him just ahead of Thomas Edison, who had 1,093 patents to his name. In recognition of Mr. Fischer’s work, the European Patent Office gave him a lifetime achievement award in 2014.
Sounds like a cool guy. I’ve certainly used plenty of those drywall screw holder w/o ever wondering what genius invented them.