As we've seen, since the city's earliest days, innovative Akronites have created new items, made improvements, or developed new processes that changed the way the world did business.
Sometimes it's playfulness, entertainment, and hobbies that can change the world and inspire new industries.
For years, toys were all handmade, making them available only to the children of wealthy families. Samuel C. Dyke invented machinery which automated his factory. In 1884, they began to mass produce marbles making them the first toy that was largely affordable by everyone, and launching the modern toy industry.
Russian immigrant, Dietrich Gustav Rempel, studied sculpture in college. In 1946, he opened the Rempel Manufacturing toy company in Akron. They made a line of rubber toys produced from clay molds Rempel carved and a process he patented called “Roto-Cast.” Among the toys they produced was a line of rubber animals, one of which was a rubber duck. Rempel toys were so popular sold in countries all over the world.
In the 1920s, Harry C. Williams of Kenmore, was a projectionist at a movie theater. He got the idea to take a denim-like material and paint it with a silver paint – making it more reflective – and use it as a screen. Just like that, the famous “silver screen” was born. By the 1940s, Williams had opened a factory and was selling his screens to movie houses all over the country.
In 1890, the Pflueger Supreme fishing reel was manufactured here in Akron. Pflueger went on to produce models called Summit, Akron, and Norka and became one of the best known brands in the country.
Pflueger wasn't the only Akron angler to put their innovation to work and become a major player in the bait and tackle industry. Fred Arborgast worked at Goodyear and made fishing lures as a hobby. By 1930, his lures were so popular that he began producing the lures full time. Arborgast became known for their Tin Liz, Hawaiian Wigglers, and Jitterbug lures. Both Pflueger's and Arborgast's models are favorites among vintage bait and tackle collectors.
In the early 2000s, husband and wife team Jamie Stillman and Julie Robbins began making guitar effects pedals in their basement. When someone noticed The Black Keys using one of the pedals, the side-gig began to grow. Now, EarthQuaker Devices ships about 1000 pedals per week all to retailers all over the world.
In 2017, Akron's mayor, Dan Horrigan, announced the creation of BOUNCE, a hub for Akron’s innovative residents. BOUNCE is bringing together the city's entrepreneurs and students with investors and corporate executives through programming and initiatives to keep Akron's history of innovation moving into the future.