Daisuke Inoue, the man who invented karaoke in 1971, never bothered to patent his tiny invention, thus missing his chance to become one of Japan’s richest men. Some put his losses at more than $150 million.
“I’m not an inventor,” says the 65-year-old in his small Osaka office, where the first version of the karaoke machine sits in a corner. “I simply put things that already exist together, which is completely different. I took a car stereo, a coin box and a small amp to make the karaoke. Who would even consider patenting something like that?” (The Independent)
“Karaoke” means “empty orchestra” in Japanese. But one thing karaoke did not do–as Mr. Inoue expected it would–was fade away quietly. Instead, karaoke blew up. By the 1980s it had swept across most of Asia, becoming a staple for business parties and drunken social bonding. In the 1990s karaoke took hold in the states and has never let go.
Today it is an enormous industry, with video games and world championships skyrocketing talented crooners to international fortune and glory.