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Lonnie Johnson      

Inventor, Innovator & Former NASA Nuclear Engineer; Creator of the Super Soaker Water Gun & Nerf

Lonnie George Johnson is an American inventor and engineer who holds more than 120 patents.

Johnson conceived the Super Soaker while doing work with the US Air Force. On October 14, 1983 he applied for a U.S. patent. Initially, it was called the “Power Drencher” when it appeared in toy shops in 1990, but after some tweaks and remarketing, it got its name. Selling between $10 to $60 depending on the model, the Super Soaker took off, generating $200 million in sales in 1991. Shortly after making the deal for the Super Soaker with the Larami Corporation, Larami became a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc. in February 1995. But being an inventor, Johnson came up with another idea: replacing the water in the Super Soaker with a "toy [Nerf] projectile." In 1996, Johnson received a patent for "Pneumatic launcher for a toy projectile and the like."

In February 2013, Johnson filed suit against Hasbro after he discovered that he was being underpaid royalties for the Super Soaker and several Nerf line of toys. In November 2013, Johnson was awarded nearly $73 million in royalties from Hasbro Inc. in arbitration. According to Hasbro, the Super Soaker is approaching sales of $1 billion.

After inventing the Super Soaker, Johnson founded Johnson Research and Development Co., Inc., a technology development company, and its spin-off companies, Excellatron Solid State and Johnson Electro- Mechanical Systems, which are developing revolutionary energy technology; and Johnson Real Estate Investments.

Johnson holds a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering, an M.S. degree in Nuclear Engineering. In 1979, he left the Air Force to accept a position as Senior Systems Engineer at the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where he worked on the Galileo mission to Jupiter. Returning to the Air Force in 1982, he served as an Advanced Space Systems Requirements Officer at Strategic Air Command (SAC) headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska, and as Chief of the Data Management Branch, SAC Test and Evaluation Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base in California. He was awarded the Air Force Achievement Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal on two different occasions. In 1987, he returned to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he worked on the Mars Observer project and was the fault protection engineer during the early stages of the Cassini (Saturn) project. During his nine year career with JPL, he received multiple achievement awards from NASA for his work in spacecraft system design.

Johnson serves on the Board of Directors of FIRST, and is a Board member of the Hank Aaron “Chasing the Dream” Foundation. He also serves as a Trustee to the Boys & Girls Club of America.

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