Craig Burnham, a Salem native, invented a science toy called the "Tornado Tube". Using two water filled soda bottles, with this plastic piece placed in the middle, it created a vortex, much like a tornado.
Craig thought of the idea when he was about 10 or 11 years old. He was trying to make an hourglass, but out of water, not sand. He used glass bottles and a washer inside. He thought it was a failure and put it away until he was an adult.
When he revisited the idea, he secured a U.S. patent for his toy, had it manufactured as "Tornado Tube" and started selling it to toy stores. In the first 12 months, the company shipped about 500,000 tubes. The business grew over the next few years.
Vertical File in Salem Collection - Burnham, Craig
"Tornado Tycoon; Salem man swirling to riches with invention" Salem News, Mar. 20, 1997, p.1
"Inventor's accident twists into tornado of success" Peabody Times, Mar. 13, 1990, p. 1