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He created one of the most iconic toys ever, the Super Soaker: Lonnie Johnson talks about perseverance

At one point, the water gun became the No. 1-selling toy across the United States. Its creator says, "It's just a matter of pursuing a passion, if you will, and sticking to it."
Lonnie Johnson, inventor of the Super Soaker squirt gun
Posted at 3:28 PM, May 31, 2024

Lonnie Johnson, the president and founder of Johnson Research and Development Co. — most famously known as the creator of the iconic Super Soaker water gun — says when it comes to ideas, his "magic word is to persevere — to stick with it."

The inventor and engineer says he has been working on his ideas and trying to bring them to life for as long as he can remember. Johnson has more than 100 patents.

When Johnson was working at NASA as an aerospace engineer, he would go home after work to research a pump idea that would end up becoming the high-performance squirt gun that became a summer favorite for kids and adults. Being environmentally friendly was also part of his idea.

"What could be more environmentally friendly than water?" he said.

After about 10 years of working on his idea, it all came together to become one of the most successful toys in recent history.

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Eventually becoming the bestselling water toy of all time, the Super Soaker squirt gun was inducted into the American National Toy Hall of Fame.

Johnson said the business side of it was "new territory," and said he decided to consider licensing the product once he saw how much it was going to cost to get started.

"Most people I showed it to liked it. Somehow the execution didn't seem to materialize," he said. That was until he met partners who could help him formulate the marketing and other elements of the business, which helped the idea take off.

Now Johnson helps promote STEM education, urging people to pursue passions in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"It's just a matter of pursuing a passion, if you will, and sticking to it," he said. "My magic word is to persevere, to stick with it."