Inventions often come with unintended consequences, and sometimes the creators themselves wish they could turn back time. From the commercialized nightmare of Mother’s Day to the complexities of modern passwords, these inventors have expressed deep regrets about their creations. Here are 16 stories of inventors who, despite their groundbreaking work, ultimately wished they could undo what they had done. Read on to discover the surprising and sometimes ironic tales behind these innovations.

1. Anna Jarvis regretted inventing Mother’s Day so much that she ended up lobbying against it.

Anna Jarvis, one of thirteen children, was horrified by the commercialization of Mother’s Day, which she created after her own mother’s death in 1905. She envisioned it as a simple, heartfelt celebration, but when the prices of carnations skyrocketed, she condemned the “charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers, and termites” who, in her view, were undermining the holiday with their greed.

To combat this, she spent her own money to copyright Mother’s Day and sued anyone who used the term without her permission, aiming to prevent marketers from exploiting the holiday for profit.

2. Ethan Zuckerman straight-up apologized for inventing the pop-up ad.

“I wrote the code to launch the window and run an ad in it. I’m sorry. Our intentions were good,” he wrote in an essay about advertising’s relationship to the internet. “I have come to believe that advertising is the original sin of the web. The fallen state of our internet is a direct, if unintentional, consequence of choosing advertising as the default model to support online content and services,” he added.

3. Dong Nguyen announced the end of his game Flappy Bird via tweet, saying, “I cannot take this anymore.”

Released in 2013, the app unexpectedly amassed over 50 million downloads by 2014. Despite its success, reportedly earning $50k a day according to The Verge, Nguyen was overwhelmed. When asked what troubled him about the app, he clarified it wasn’t legal issues, saying, “I just cannot keep it anymore.”

4. Robert Propst hated how office cubicles, which he invented as part of his Action Office model, were adapted, calling their mass introduction a “monolithic insanity.”

The invention aimed to give office workers privacy, vertical space for pinning items, shelves, and room for both standing and sitting desks. It was also intended to be much larger than the typical office cubicles we see today. Propst was appalled by how CEOs used his design to save space and money at the workers’ expense.

5. Vincent Connare, who invented Comic Sans, “sympathizes with the worldwide movement to ban it,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

The font was created as part of a Microsoft project, but Connare “cringes at the most improbable manifestations of his Frankenstein’s monster font and rarely uses it himself,” the publication stated. Connare told The Wall Street Journal, “If you love it, you don’t know much about typography. But if you hate it, you really don’t know much about typography either, and you should get another hobby.”

6. Wally Conron deeply regrets creating the Labradoodle in the ’80s due to the health issues many of them face.

“When I first invented the breed, nobody wanted Labrador crosses,” he told the Associated Press. However, after he coined the catchy name as a “gimmick,” demand skyrocketed, which he now regrets. Conron has since stopped breeding the dogs, stating, “I’ve done a lot of damage. I’ve created a lot of problems.”

“Marvelous thing? My foot,” he added. “There are a lot of unhealthy and abandoned dogs out there.”

7. Emoticon inventor Scott E. Fahlman feels 🙁 about creating the :).

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Fahlman explained that the smiley face (originally :-)) was meant to indicate “I’m joking.” Reflecting on the many, er, interesting applications of emoticons now, he said, “Sometimes I feel like Dr. Frankenstein. My creature started as benign, but it’s gone places I don’t approve of.”

Aside from The Emoji Movie and 😈, though, I think his worry is misplaced.

8. John Sylvan, who invented the K-cup coffee pod in the ’90s, told The Atlantic, “I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it.”

The original K-cups created a lot of waste, though all K-cups have been recyclable since the end of 2020.

9. Looking back, Sir Tim Berners-Lee wishes he hadn’t put the // at the start of every web address.

Speaking to Business Insider, the inventor of HTML said, “Really, if you think about it, it doesn’t need the //. I could have designed it not to have the //.” Personally, I quite like it.

10. Victor Gruen, the inventor of the shopping mall, hated what his creation became.

After opening the first mall (Southdale Center in Edina, Minnesota) in 1956, Gruen saw his invention turn into the sprawling commercial sites we know today. He had originally intended it to mimic the car-free, walkable plazas of his native Austria. By 1978, he called the nationwide adaptations of his idea “b*stard developments” turned grotesque by “the ugliness and discomfort of the land-wasting seas of parking.”

11. The Raleigh Chopper was basically BMX before BMX came to be — but its inventor, Tom Karen, wasn’t much of a fan.

The bike was one of Raleigh’s best-selling offerings in the ‘70s, but Karen wasn’t too impressed. Speaking to The Telegraph after the model had been discontinued, he said, “The Chopper wasn’t a very good bike. It was terribly heavy, so you wouldn’t want to ride it very far. There was some guy who rode it from Land’s End to John O’Groats [a 603-mile trip across Britain] for a good cause, and by the end, he was cursing it.”

12. Kamran Loghman regrets how his invention, pepper spray, has been used.

After working for the FBI in the ’80s, Loghman helped turn pepper spray into a weapons-grade material. However, when police used it on college students during a 2011 protest, he said, “I have never seen such an inappropriate and improper use of chemical agents.”

13. Philo Farnsworth invented some of the technology that made TV possible when he was just 14, but he lived to regret it. He called TV a “most painful” machine on the show I’ve Got a Secret.

Farnsworth essentially missed out on profiting from his idea and believed TV was rotting the national mind. However, the moon landing changed his perspective. His widow, Elma Farnsworth, recalled, “When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, Phil turned to me and said, ‘Pem, this has made it all worthwhile.’”

14. Hate creating strong passwords? So does Bill Burr, the inventor of the rules that make it so tricky.

“It frustrates everybody, me included,” he said of the complex demands he helped implement in 2003. Burr later admitted, “It’s probably better to use long passwords that are phrases you can remember than to try to get people to use lots of funny characters.” He has since helped to revise his own rules.

15. John Larson doesn’t stand by the lie detector, which he co-invented.

True crime enthusiasts know how inaccurate polygraphs can be. After its release, Larson himself said it was “a Frankenstein’s monster, which I have spent over 40 years combating.”

16. Robert Watson-Watt, who invented radar, lived to regret his own invention.

The technology ended up inconveniencing Watt personally. According to the sculptor of his statue, after Watt was caught by a radar speed camera, he said, “My God, if I’d known what they were going to do with it, I’d never have invented it!”

Do you have any other examples to add? Let us know in the comments below!

This post originally appeared on Buzzfeed.

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