In my opinion, one of the weirdest inventions that I have ever heard of was the invention of mauve. Like the pinkish-purple color mauve. If you want to get technical, the color itself was not actually invented—obviously the color itself had existed and it was merely discovered by accident. But the true invention was how the color was captured and produced for everyday use, something that had not been possible before.
In 1853, fifteen-year-old William Henry Perkin began his schooling at the Royal College of Chemistry in London under the direction of August Wilhelm von Hofmann. Three years later, in an attempt to synthesize quinine—a compound used to treat malaria—Perkin decided that he would perform some additional experiments. It was these additional experiments that created the most intense purple color that Perkin had ever seen. An art enthusiast, Perkin decided that he wanted to find a way to mass produce this compound as a dye which could be used in painting. He called his mixture mauveine, and it was immediate hit, due to the expensive nature of other purple dyes during this time period. As purple was a color attributed to royalty, mauveine became immediately successful in the commercial market.
As the first synthetic organic chemical dye, mauveine opened an entirely new market for man-made clothing dyes and paints. Without this accidental discovery, it may have taken years before another scientist felt the desire to experiment with synthetic dyes, and the clothing market would have been years behind in its products. Additionally, these mad-made dyes are much cheaper than any other kind of natural dying agent, and therefore have lowered the cost of clothing, paint, and many other items that we use every day. All thanks to the random experiments of an eighteen-year-old boy, who “invented” a color.