How Were Matches Accidentally Invented?

The modern striking match was inadvertently invented in 1826 when an English apothecary named John Walker used a wooden stick to stir a mixture of starch, potassium chlorate, antimony sulfide and other ingredients. A bit of this mixture dried on the end of the stirring stick, and when Walked attempted to scrape the dried bit off by rubbing it across stone flooring, the first known friction match ignited.

Walker apparently didn't see the massive earning potential in his invention, choosing instead to simply show off his trick for the amusement of small audiences. An enterprising man named Samuel Jones attended one of these demonstrations, and he ended up marketing the first mass-produced matches.

Jones marketed these matches under the name "Lucifers" in reference to the fiery nature of his product. Walker's accidental creation isn't the first instance of a match-like invention. Around 500 C.E., there is evidence that Chinese people created a match-like tool that would instantly burst into flame when applied to an existing fire. Unlike the friction match, these early matches couldn't create fire on their own.