In 1975, a freelance copy writer named Gary Dahl got the idea for the Pet Rock — an ordinary rock, packaged in a pet carrier, requiring no food or care — at a California bar, and the Pet Rock's astronomical success made Dahl an overnight millionaire. He died on March 23 in Jacksonville, Oregon, at age 78, and The New York Times remembers him in a delightful obituary posted late Tuesday.
"Despite the boon Pet Rocks brought him, Mr. Dahl came to regret the brainstorm that gave rise to them in the first place," notes Margalit Fox. And it wasn't just because he lost a six-figure lawsuit to one of his two investors:
Though the rock made him wealthy, it also made him wary, for he was besieged ever after by hordes of would-be inventors, seeking his advice on the next big thing. "There's a bizarre lunatic fringe who feel I owe them a living," Mr. Dahl told The Associated Press in 1988. "Sometimes I look back and wonder if my life wouldn't have been simpler if I hadn’t done it." [New York Times]
Simpler, it should be noted, isn't necessarily better. Read the entire obit of Dahl in The New York Times.