One Hit Wonders

one time Inventors in Computing Technology


Today is “One Hit Wonder Day”, although we at Iceni don’t work in the music industry, doesn’t mean we cannot enjoy the days event, so we have created a different alternative to the day, by thinking of a few inventors in the computing industry who have created a world changing invention but never created anything after the success of their first product.


Henn Tan – ThumbDrive/ USB Flash Drive

Henn Tan was born in Kampung, Geylang Lorong, Singapore. Henn started off at a German multinational firm where he worked as a Machinist. From 1980 to 1983 Henn joined Sanshin Electronics an agent for NEC Semiconductors, as a marketing executive. He later joined Shin-Nichi, a member of the SANYO group of companies, in 1984. In Shin-Nichi, Tan worked his way up to become the director of operations where he oversaw the company’s operations in Southeast Asia. In 1995, Tan resigned from the company.


In 1995 Tan bought out a small family owned business which traded in electronic parts called Trek. Tan changed the whole structure of the business to focus on providing technology driven engineering solutions to businesses.


Then in 2000 Tan and his team explored different ways to create a data storage device which utilised the USB interface. This is where he invented the ThumbDrive/ USB flash drive.

Still today, Tan is living off the success of his invention and has not invented anything else since.



Douglas Engelbart – Computer Mouse

Douglas Engelbart was born in Portland, Oregon, United States. Engelbart graduated from Franklin High School, Portland in 1942, then he studied at Oregon State College in 1943 until he was old enough to serve for his country for the Navy as a radar technician for the remaining 2 years of World War II. After graduating from College with a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, Engelbart started working for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics up until 1951.


Engelbart then focused on using his talent and skills which he learnt at the college by finding ways in which it would help the world in computing. He experimented in ways to improve the challenging human-computer interaction, as it didn’t really exist on computers in the 1950s and 60s. Engelbart then came up with the idea of the computer mouse to greatly improve the ease of use for the user.


His designs and prototype of the first mouse he designed didn’t go down well with the large computer companies at the time as they didn’t think the invention would work and had no potential. But even today computers use a mouse based on Engelbart’s original designs and prototype.



Tim Berners-Lee – World Wide Web

Tim Berners-Lee a British computer scientist born who was born in southwest London, England. Tim graduated from Emanuel School in 1973 and in 1976 he received a first class degree in physics at Queen’s College in Oxford.


Tim first started working as an engineer for Plessey in Poole which is a telecommunication company. After that Tim has worked for various different companies and businesses including CERN as an independent contractor and at an Image Computer Systems as the company’s technician.  After which Tim returned to CERN in the late 1980s where thought of the idea for the www (World Wide Web). The ideas come from his initial start at CERN when he was experimenting on the concept of hypertext and he connected the idea to Transmission Control Protocol’s and domain name systems.


All the parts to create the World Wide Web were there in the world already but Tim was the first to try them altogether and experiment.

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