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Number 1 Shimbun

The super-imaginative inventor

03

 

Dr. Yoshiro Nakamatsu, Japan’s self-titled “King of Invention,” contemplating his next comment to Club members on Nov. 11, 1994. Looking on expectantly is Georges Baumgartner (Swiss Radio & Television). Dr. Nakamatsu had shown a slide presentation of his world of inventions, including one of the “Tasty Power Seasoning Sprinkler in Doctor Nakamatsu’s Head” that showed projecting beams of thoughts from his forehead.

 

Dr. Nakamatsu, who claims over 3,300 patents (triple those of Thomas Edison) as well as being “father of the floppy disk,” was born on June 26, 1928. His father was a banker and his mother a teacher who tutored him from a young age and encouraged his urge to invent. He did so from an early age, claiming invention of a stabilizer for model airplanes at age five and obtaining his first patent (assisted by his mother)—for a water heater while in eighth grade.
 

In 1952, he patented an optical sound medium of stacked colored paper, contrived while a student at Tokyo University. That was followed by a 1964 patent for a “Magnetic Record Sheet” which combined were the concept for the floppy disk. IBM, said to have licensed 14 patents from him, denies this combination is the origin of its 1969 floppy disk. 

All in all, his mind-bending range of patents, from his useful siphon pump for transferring liquids, to many on the wilder side—such as a wig for self-defense and a magnetized condom to improve sex—made him famous as a super-imaginative inventor. Critics might call most of them “gadgets,” but Dr. NakaMats, as he is also known, has appeared on TV and radio programs all over the world, while receiving a wide range of awards. These include the 2015 Ig Nobel prize for Nutrition, the research of which he credits to his survival from terminal prostate cancer in 2014. He has been featured in documentaries as well as the Smithsonian Magazine. Although unsuccessful, he has also run for high political office multiple times.

Dr. Nakamatsu, who is married with three children, lives in a home specially designed for creative thinking.


– Charles Pomeroy 

editor of Foreign Correspondents in Japan, 
a history of the Club that is available at the front desk

Published in: February 2020

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