He invented a musical instrument. At a 1761 concert in England, Franklin heard music made using only wineglasses holding different amounts of water. Within months he had fashioned what he called an “armonica”—37 glass bowls arranged by size on a spindle rigged with a foot pedal and spun by a flywheel. Once the armonica got going, simply touching the spinning rims with a wet finger produced notes. Writing to an Italian friend, Franklin described his instrument as “peculiarly adapted to Italian music, especially that of the soft and plaintive kind.” Europeans especially enjoyed the armonica. Mozart and Beethoven wrote music for the device; Marie Antoinette took armonica lessons. (SZ Photo/Scherl/Bridgeman Images)