It seems that the first US patent for an internal-combustion powered ‘Pogo' stick was issued to inventor R.J. Mays back in 1950.
The jumping machine was intended to run on gasoline, and, according its creator was "…highly efficient and amusing in operation." It's not altogether clear whether May's power-stick ever went into production, but a similar(ish) device, which was granted a US patent ten years later, did. According its inventor Mr. G. Spitzmesser, the stick – known commercially as ‘The Hop Rod' was "…extremely safe and harmless and of tremendous entertainment value." Edwin Spitzmesser, son of the late inventor, gives details of its R&D here (courtesy: bpmlegal.com )
"I would test it each time he tinkered with it. It ran on butane, but really jumped high when we once used a mixture of acetylene and oxygen! He used a model ‘A' Ford spark coil which delivered quite a few volts to the unprotected spark plug – as I once found out when my zipper came in contact with it briefly. I haven't had a thrill like that since!"
Sadly, the high-jumping ‘Hop Rod' was eventually withdrawn from commercial production due to safety concerns.
Nonetheless, despite possible doubts regarding safety issues, research and development of other alternatives for powered-pogo-sticks has not stopped – work has progressed at at least three universities.
University of California, Berkeley, US – The Pogomatic
"…a simple and rugged device […] in the form of a power assisted pogo stick, which is capable of maintaining a constant bounce height of several inches, without requiring any jumping effort by the user."
Carnegie Mellon University, US – The Bowgo
"…a new kind of pogo stick that bounces higher, farther and more efficiently than conventional devices."
Université de Sherbrooke, Canada – PSEUS project (Pogo-Stick Extreme of the University of Sherbrooke)
"…we have built a powerful device which allow [sic] us to archive [sic] the initial idea: a higher leap of around 8 ft of [sic] the ground."
This post originally appeared on Improbable Research.