Football (Soccer)

Football is one of the few innovations entirely lacking in utility that is impactful enough to warrant inclusion. It’s just fun.

The game of football (soccer in the US and Australia) is a variation of an ancient game. Essentially, two teams work to get a ball into the goal of the other team.


It’s impossible to assign a single specific date to the innovation of football. However, an 1863 Cambridge conference that passed basic rules and banned the use of hands seems like a reasonable date.

Football is one of the few entertainment innovations on innowiki. That’s because of the size and scope of the game. Although not as popular in the US, it is wildly popular everywhere else. And the US is also catching onto the game.

The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) estimates about 240 million people around the world play football. Fans number in the billions. In 2017, football is a 25€ billion euro market in Europe alone. The World Cup tournament, a once every four-year tournament, brought in about $6.4 billion of revenue in 2018.

Soccer in the US

American disinterest in football goes back to their isolationist roots. They instead prefer baseball (a variation of cricket), American football (a variation of rugby), and basketball, a purely American invention. Interestingly, basketball – a purely US invention – is the only American sport to gain worldwide popularity.

As of 2019, Argentinian Lionel Messi is the highest-paid football player earning the equivalent of $111 million USD per year, $84 million in salary and $27 million from advertisements. In contrast, American football player Aaron Rodgers is the National Football League’s highest-paid player, earning $66.9 million in 2018.

Although Americans show far less enthusiasm for football than other players in the world, the US women’s national soccer team holds countless FIFA records. They are one of only two teams in the world, the other being football-crazed Germany, to win the FIFA tournament two times in a row.

Compact Audiotape Cassette

In 1960, Consumer Reports reviewed an in-car vinyl record player offered by Chrysler, The RCA Victor “Victrola.” It held 14 records and could play for 2.5 hours continuously. To keep the needle from bouncing around, it was pressed into the vinyl wearing down records. Despite that common sense says the invention sounds idiotic, it worked reasonably well.

Despite that, driving around with a stylus trying to track a record was never especially popular. Most people settled for radio. The eight-track player was a stopgap solution that went out of style with leisure suits. It was disrupted by a smaller, more nimble technology that could both record and playback music, the compact audio cassette.

Cassette players were fun! Also, useful. And cheap. They were a simple, convenient way to play music. They worked fine in cars and homes. Much to the chagrin of the music industry, people could record from their vinyl records or another cassette. The mix-tape didn’t make the cut as a major innovation but they were fun back in the day. They were also a good way to impress an inspiring romantic interest.

Ottens, inventor of the compact audio cassette, worked as an employee of Phillips until retirement. Phillips never thought much of the technology, to the point that they awarded licenses to use most of the innovation for free. They believed the tape was too thin for high quality recording proving, again, that low-cost and good-enough quality is oftentimes the perfect product mix.