Museum of Possibilities

When I first saw futurist Steven M. Johnson's "inventions" (and believe me, the word "invention" under-describes what Steve produces), two thoughts popped in my mind.

The first is that they remind me of "chindogu," the Japanese art of useless inventions, except that Steve's brilliantly whimsical (or is it whimsically brilliant?) creations are like chindogu on steroids. And the second is that we absolutely must have him on Neatorama.

Allison Arieff of The New York Times' Opinionator Blog describes him as "a sort of R. Crumb meets R. Buckminster Fuller":

In discussing his often fantastical, sometimes silly, sometimes visionary concepts, he has said, “If I could use two words to describe what it is that I enjoy it is that I love to be sneakily outrageous . . . [It may be that] I have decided an idea has no practical worth and would never be likely to be adopted seriously (like most of my ideas), but I like it anyway.”

Steve has written two books, What the World Needs Now and Public Therapy Buses, Information Specialty Bums, Solar Cook-A-Mats and Other Visions of the 21st Century. featuring hundreds of his inventions over the years (some of which actually came true), including these gems:


A brave new generation indulges in unabashed self-advertisement, sporting personals T-shirts


The automatic self-making bed, a dream of many adolescents and some adults, is produced. All that is required is periodic forward winding of the take-up sheet roll, which draws a fresh sheet segment around a roller to create a "pair" of clean sheets. The used sheet roll is picked up for cleaning by a mobile laundry service, which leaves behind a fresh roll.


Installing a duplex toilet would be considerably less expensive than constructing an additional bathroom to accomodate a growing family.


Wearing the vacuum suit, one feels free to move around the house, developing a skating or dancing motion while listening to stereo headphones. Vacuum motor can be reversed for yard leaf blowing. "Sauna" suit helps one to lose weight.

The bad news is that those books are out of print, though we do have a small stock of these rare books for sale. The good news is that he's never stopped inventing (he's got boxes and boxes of ideas jotted down for posterity) and that yours truly managed to coax the 70 72-year-old inventor to come out of retirement and produce a new regular series on exclusively on Neatorama.

Here is the inaugural blog post of Steven M. Johnson's Museum of Possibilities: - Enjoy!

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Wow I have had "What the world needs now" ever since I was little. I am so glad to know this guy is still around and inventing :D

Used to just sit and read that book for hours.
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