If someone were to ask you to name a one-hit wonder, you’d immediately go for a-ha’s “Take On Me” or “I Ran” by A Flock Of Seagulls.
However—hey, stop singing—however, what you might not have realized is that there’s numerous species of one-hit wonders you’ve left out when you hum the sweet sounds of a-ha’s auditory masterpiece: one-hit wonders exist outside of music. By way of a killer Reddit thread, we uncovered some of history’s forgotten non-musical one-hit wonders.
Authors, scientists, designers, the list is endless...well, not endless, but it’s vast. There’s no such thing as an endless list—maybe a list of numbers? Anyway, read this article or die after a long, healthy life.
Eli Whitney was one of the fathers of the Industrial Revolution, so we’re not saying he’s not important. He’s very important, but it was the lack of successful inventions following the cotton gin that puts him on this list. The only other invention that had Whitney’s name was the milling machine—however, subsequent historians note that others around the same time could have aided Whitney, leaving the Cotton Gin as his only true invention.
This Swedish game designer’s one and only claim to fame is the 2011 massive first-person game, Minecraft. While Markus “Notch” Persson did manage to spearhead a few follow-up games, each of them failed to make a dent in the gaming community in the same way. Minecraft made more than enough money to keep Persson afloat and he sold his video game company, Mojang, to Microsoft for $2.5 billion dollars. So, he’s got that going for him...which is nice.
To Kill a Mockingbird
This hugely successful and inspirational Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is author Harper Lee’s one and only novel. While the highly-controversial sequel, Go Set a Watchman, is in the process of being released (under bizarre circumstances), this novel is technically her only hit. She’s reportedly worth over $35 million now and earns over $9,000 a day in royalties from the only book she’s ever released.
The story behind Edmund Gettier is fascinating and perfectly summed up in this comment.
Remember Flappy Bird? Of course you do. Developed by Dong Nguyen, this game was discontinued because of its success—more specifically, because it was absolutely addicting as f*ck. Nguyen was reportedly making $50,000 a day by the time he decided to retire the game. While his follow-up games, Super Ball Juggling and Shuriken Block, ranked in the top twenty downloaded apps, they didn’t come close to the cultural phenomenon that was Flappy Bird.
WD-40 was the only product the Rocket Chemical Company ever made. It took these guys around 40 tries (aha!) before they perfected the stuff and it became a household name. Because of the overwhelming success of WD-40, the Rocket Chemical Company formally changed their name to WD-40 Company, Inc. and stopped trying to make anything else all together.
James K. Polk
Quick, when did James Polk serve in office? Exactly. While this man is far from the tip of anyone’s tongues, he actually accomplished a lot in his one term in office. He successfully annexed Texas, parts of Oregon, and signed a treaty that added roughly 1.2 million square miles of territory to the U.S. He's the president who made America a coast-to-coast nation, but died from cholera three months after leaving office—leaving him as a footnote in most textbooks.
The Blair Witch Project
We all remember The Blair Witch Project—the “found footage” horror movie that grossed over $248,639,099 worldwide. What we don’t remember is any of the other projects the team behind this movie worked on. Sadly, not one film from the filmmaking duo Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez managed to break the bank like Blair Witch.
This guy is a genius. First and foremost, Mullis made huge contributions to molecular biology with the way we look at DNA. Mullis discovered a technique called the polymerase chain reaction, which amplifies small strands of DNA—now a standard procedure in molecular biology labs. Since then, he’s...well...kind of gone off the deep end. He’s a famous AIDS denialist, lover of LSD, and once “reported an encounter with a glowing green raccoon at his cabin in the woods of northern California.”
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