Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door
"Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door" is a phrase attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson in the late nineteenth century. It is unknown who wrote the phrase as it was popularized. The phrase is a metaphor about the power of innovation.
The phrase is actually a misquotation of Ralph Waldo Emerson 1855 writing:
If a man has good corn or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods.— Ralph Waldo Emerson, 
According to some sources, the current phrasing of the quotation didn't appear until 7 years after Emerson died. Thus, in 1889, Emerson was credited with having said
If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor ...
If a man has good corn ... or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs, than anybody else ...
It is unclear who deserves credit for the phrasing in common use today.
The phrase has turned into a metaphor about the power of innovation and is frequently taken literally, with more than 4,400 patents issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office for new mousetraps, with thousands more unsuccessful applicants, making them the "most frequently invented device in U.S. history". The popular modern snap-trap version of the mousetrap was invented in Lititz, Pennsylvania, by John Mast in 1899, several years after the Emerson misquote had become popular.
- ^ a b Kassinger, Ruth (2002). Build a Better Mousetrap. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. p. 128. ISBN 0-471-39538-2.
- ^ a b c d Lienhard, John H. (18 September 2003). Inventing Modern: Growing Up with X-Rays, Skyscrapers, and Tailfins. p. 204. ISBN 978-0-19-803636-4.
- ^ John H. Lienhard. "Engines of Our Ingenuity No. 1163: A BETTER MOUSETRAP". Retrieved 25 Dec 2016.
- American Heritage Magazine, "A Better Mousetrap", 1996, Volume 47, Issue 6.