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Lonnie Johnson - Super Soaker

Updated: Aug 24, 2019

Lonnie Johnson (October 6, 1949 - ) was an African-American engineer and inventor. He earned his master's degree in nuclear engineering from Tuskegee University, and went on to work for the U.S. Air Force and the NASA space program. After tinkering with the invention of a high-powered water gun, Johnson's Super Soaker became a top-selling item by the early 1990s.

Lonnie Johnson (October 6, 1949 - ) was born in Mobile, Ala., and attended college at Tuskegee University. After completing his master's degree, he joined the U.S. Air Force.

Johnson began working as an engineer for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1979. During his time at NASA, Johnson worked on the Galileo mission to Jupiter, the Mars Observer project, and the Cassini mission to Saturn. He earned multiple awards from NASA for his spacecraft control systems.

But Johnson is possibly best known for inventing the Super Soaker water gun. The inspiration hit him while he was working on an eco-friendly heat pump. "I accidentally shot a stream of water across a bathroom where I was doing the experiment and thought to myself, 'This would make a great gun'," Johnson said. The Super Soaker's success allowed him to work for himself and fund his own research in green technology. Johnson holds more than 100 patents.


“Lonnie G. Johnson.”, A&E Networks Television, 23 June 2019,

“Lonnie G. Johnson: African American Inventors.”,

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