"Inventing is a very tough business. It takes a thick skin and the ability to keep smiling after constantly hearing the word no. An inventors days are filled with polite praise about the wonderfulness of one invention but the sad reality that one prized creation is "just not a good fit with our company. at the moment."
The truth is that very few great American companies are actually interested in genuine innovation. Yes, thousands of salaried inventors work on the staff of corporate laboratories. And many churn out small patentable inventions for which they get no royalties. But when an inventor comes up with a really new solution to an old problem or a better way of producing an item, few companies welcome the idea."
They all laughed
"The spring of 1790 brought warm air and hope to the inventor, now ready with an improved boat. On April 16 the engine started, built up steam, and as Fitch exclaimed, "we reigned Lord High Admirals of the Delaware, and no boat in the River could hold its way with us, but all fell astern...."The Thornton moved at 8 miles per hour and Fitch was ecstatic: "Thus has been effected, by little Johnny Fitch and Harry Voight, one of the greatest and most useful arts that has ever been introduced into the world; and although the world and my country does not thank me for it, yet it gives me heartful satisfaction."
John Fitch the inventor of the practical American steamboat committed suicide in 1798
"Hitherto it is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day's toil of any human being. They have enabled a great population to live the same life of drudgery and imprisonment, and an increased number of manufacturers to make fortunes.
They have increased the comforts of the middle classes. But they have not begun to effect those great changes in human history, which it is in their nature and in their futurity to accomplish."
-John Stuart Mill
"I invent nothing. I rediscover."
"It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph, or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a photograph, or a telephone or any other important thing-and the last man gets credit and we forget the others. he added his little mite-that is all he did. These object lessons should teach us that ninety-nine parts of all things that proceed from the intellect are plagiarism, pure and simple, and the lesson ought to make us modest. But nothing can do that."
"In this business....more is owing to...the observation of events, arising from unknown causes, than to any...preconceived theory."
"My crime or rather error is....in discovering and making useful invention by which my country is or will be benefiting to the amount of at least a million of dollars per annum.....it is really my interest for the good of my family, to withhold from the public, other discoveries."
(a letter of complaint to President Thomas Jefferson from Oliver Evan's 1808)
*Obama Signs the 1st major patent change since '50s "The bill is meant to ensure that the patent office now facing a backlog of 1.2 million pending patents, has the money to expedite the application process. it now takes an average of thee years to get a patent approved. More than 700,000 applications have yet to be reviewed." New York Times Sept 17,2011
"I'm fairly certain Ben Franklin wouldn't be impressed by our pace of innovation. He invented the post office and showed us electricity, and it still took us 200 years to come up with email. We're not good at connecting the dots....
-Scott Adams "What If Government Were More Like an iPod?"
The Wall street Journal Nov 5-6 2011
"If you build a better mousetrap than
your neighbor, though you live in the
woods the world will make a beaten path to
-Ralph Waldo Emerson *Ed note....Nowadays they will more likely come to your lab and break or steal your invention AA
"He added that Sturman's plant is a perfect example of the strengths and problems of the U.S. economy. While Sturman's inventiveness is unparalleled, he said, the federal tax code can often quash such talent.
"People imagine that somehow these tax codes are established in a way that actually supports innovation in our economy, and it's just not true," Bennet said. "The tax code as it exists right now protects a bunch of embedded special interests that were there at a moment in time when they were able to get this tax loophole, or that tax loophole."
The aerospace industry is a great place to start the change, Bennet said.
"This place (Colorado Springs) is in the sweet spot of the discussion that we're all having back (in Washington, D.C.)," said Bennet. "This state's economy is poised for the future."
Gazette Telegraph Colorado Springs, Co July, 2011
""I think the proverb above quoted -(in medio tutisimus ibis; thou will go most safely by taking the middle course)-is one of the most mischievous, one of the most pernicious, one of the most foolish that ever was invented in the world. I believe very strongly in extremes; and I am quite sure that all progress in the world, whether literary, or scientific, or religious, or political, or social, has been obtained only with the assistance of extremes."
"The world owes all its onward impulses to men ill at ease. The happy man inevitably confines himself within ancient limits."
"Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Exposť your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of "crackpot" than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost."
"Therefore he that studies and writes on the improvements of the arts and sciences labor to benefit generations yet unborn, for it is not probable that his contemporaries will pay any attention to him, especially those of his relations, friends, and intimates; therefore improvements progress so slowly."
-Oliver Evans (to one of his sons he left a document called "Philosophy of Life.")
-The English Academy of Science laughed at Benjamin Franklin when he reported his discovery of the lightning rod, and the academy refused to publish his report
-A gathering of German engineers in 1902 ridiculed Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin for claiming to invent a steerable balloon (Later, Zeppelin airships flew commercially across the Atlantic.)
-Major newspapers ignored the historic 1903 flight of the Wright brothers airplane because scientific American suggested the flight was a hoax, and for five years officials in Washington D.C. did not believe that the heavier-than-air machine had flown.
"The extraordinary individual is also perennially at risk for pain, rejection, and loneliness. Most innovators and most innovations are not well understood or appreciated at the time of their launching. The establishment is conservative, peers are jealous, the general public may be hostile. One needs thick skin to withstand the scrutiny that attends almost every breakthrough. Indeed, the aspirant for extraordinariness must prepare for a life in which the drums of criticism beat constantly. and while success may bring rewards, any triumph also ushers in a new round of jealousy and criticism....as well as the likelihood that one's ideas or works will be distorted, sometimes inadvertently, sometimes deliberately.
"My enemies have been so successful in portraying me as a poet and a visionary that I must put out something commercial without delay."
"Against "patent pirates" Goodyear repeatedly had to prosecute infringement cases. In the great India Rubber Case of 1852, his advocate was no less than the Secretary of State-Daniel Webster. The licensees paid Webster $15,000 to take leave from his job and plead for Goodyear in a two-day speech at Trenton, New Jersey, Webster silenced Goodyear's chief tormentor-one Horace H. Day-and won a permanent injunction against him. the case made headlines-but the piracy of others continued."
Those Inventive Americans National Geographic society
"The biggest challenge is always the status quo."
"No true man of science will ever disgrace himself by asking for a patent; and if he should, he might not know what to do with it any more than the man did who drew an elephant at a raffle. He cannot and will not leave his scientific pursuits to turn showman, mechanic, or merchant; and it is better....that he should continue his favorite pursuits..."
(about Joseph Henry early inventor and Secretary of Smithsonian Institution)
"The great difference between Young America and Old Fogy is the result of Discoveries, Inventions and Improvements. These, in turn, are the result of observation, reflection and experiment. For instance, it is quite certain that ever since water has been boiled in covered vessels, men have seen the lids of the vessels rise and fall a little, with a sort of fluttering motion, by force of the steam; but so long as this was not specially observed, and reflected, and experimented upon, it came to nothing. at length, however, after many thousand years, some man observes this long-known effect of hot water lifting a pot-lid, and begins a train of reflection upon it. He says "Why, to be sure, the force that lifts the pot-lid will lift anything else, which is no heavier than the pot-lid. And, as man has much hard lifting to do, cannot this hot-water power be made to help him?" He has become a little excited on the subject, and he fancies he hears a voice answering "Try me."
-Abraham Lincoln a lecture 1859 "Discoveries, Inventions and Improvements"
"My passion for my art is so firmly rooted, that I am confident no human power could destroy it. The more I study, the greater I think is its claim to the appellation of divine...."
-Samuel F.B. Morse
"We live in a country that sees the arts as an extra-a "we-can-live-without-it" thing. The arts are the first to be axed when school boards need to tighten their belts. All the arts-the fine arts, music, theater, writing, and so on-teach self-discipline, problem-solving, and independent thinking. Those things aren't extras."
"Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training."
"He (Edison) grew increasingly imperious and crusty in old age. He wanted no part of electronics, even though a discovery he had stumbled on in the 1880's, the vacuum tube-in which he had observed but not pursued his one contribution to pure science, the "Edison effect"-served as a cornerstone of the new science.
Instead, in the 1920's, he tried to develop a domestic source of rubber, settled on golden-rod, and hybridized a plant that grew 14 feet tall. This engrossed him to the end."
Robert Evett :article on Thomas Alva Edison in Those Inventive Americans National Geographic society
"Everybody steals in commerce and industry. I've stolen a lot myself. But I know how to steal. They don't-and that's all that is the matter with them."
-Thomas Alva Edison
"I didn't have a drill, so I had to make my own. First, I heated a long nail in the fire, then drove it through half a maize cob, creating a handle. I placed the nail back on the coals until it became red hot, then used it to bore holes into both sets of plastic blades. I then wired them together. I didn't have any pliers, so I used two bicycle spokes to bend and tighten the wires on the b lades. That's when my mother came up behind me.
"What are you doing messing in my kitchen?" she said. "Get those toys out of here."
I tried to explain about windmills and my plan to generate power, but all she saw were some pieces of plastic stuck to a bamboo stick.
"Even children do more sensible things," she said. "Go help your father in the fields."
"I'm building something."
"For the future."
"I'll tell you something about the future!"
It was pointless to explain. What I needed now was a bicycle dynamo or some kind of generator, and I had no idea where I was going to find such a thing."
-William Kambwamba &Brian Mealer
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (about an African Boy who saw one science book with pictures of windmills and made his own)
"Evolution of flight: from a batlike glider to space shuttle. German genius Otto Lilienthal made some 2,000 flights in the 1890's, sometimes soaring as far as a thousand feet. His control methods paid tribute more to his incredible courage than to his inventiveness...Only 78 years elapsed between Lilienthal's first glider flight in 1891 and the landing of American astronauts on the moon.....
"For some years I have been afflicted with the belief that flight is possible to man. My disease has increased in severity and I feel that it will soon cost me an increased amount of money if not my life. I have been trying to arrange my affairs in such a way that I can devote my entire time for a few months to experiment in this field."
-Wilbur Wright May 13, 1900
"I had an immense advantage over many others dealing with the problem inasmuch as I had no fixed ideas derived from long established practice to control and bias my mind, and did not suffer from the general belief that what is, is right."
-Sir Henry Bessemer
"Now, in any society, only a few human beings ever have original ideas or make inventions. Of these Inventors, only a fraction have the courage, stubbornness, and energy to keep on bettering their inventions until they really work and to keep on promoting them until they really work and to keep on promoting them until they persuade others to take them."
-L. Sprague De Camp
The Ancient Engineers
"The first engineers were irrigators, architects and military engineers. The same man was usually expected to be an expert at all three kinds of work. This was still the case thousands of years later, in the Renaissance, when Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Durer were not only all-around engineers but outstanding artists , as well. Specialized within the engineering profession has developed only in the last two or three centuries."
-L. Sprague De Camp
"Despite the enormous importance of engineers and inventors in making our daily life what it is, history does not tell much about them..."
-L. Sprague De Camp
"An engineer is merely a wo/man who, by taking thought, tries to solve human problems involving matter and energy."
-L. Sprague De Camp
The Ancient Engineers
"...It is generally recognized, I think that engineering is "the art or science of making practical application of the knowledge of pure sciences." In other words, although engineers are not scientists, they study the sciences and use them to solve problems of practical interest, most typically by the process that we call creative-design. Engineers are not mechanics, nor are they technicians. They are members of a profession. Although this profession has its roots in the earliest development of the human species, it only achieved recognition as a "learned profession" in the mid-nineteenth century, when scientific principles were first applied systematically to engineering problems and when engineering schools and societies began to be be established. In this book i have not attempted to describe in any detail what engineers do. Rather, my interest is in how engineers think and feel about what they do, and in the more general aspects of whet it means to be an engineer."
Samuel C. Florman
The Existential Pleasures of Engineering
"If we could rid ourselves of all pride, if, to define our species, we kept strictly to what the historic and prehistoric periods show us to be the constant characteristic of man, and of intelligence, we should not say Homo sapiens but Homo faber. In short, intelligence considered in what seems to be its original feature, is the faculty of manufacturing artificial objects, especially tools for making tools."
Creative Evolution, 1911
"If you look very far into the literature on play, you encounter Johann Huizinga, the rector of Leyden University in Holland, who published a book in 1938 with the title Homo Ludens ("man, the player"). Huzinga followed the strands of subject matter that are woven into the topic of play-philological, mythological, anthropological, psychological,-and ended up in roughly the same place as some of today's cognitive scientists. Play, particularly symbolic play, is where cognition and culture meet. it's a mental can-opener for liberating new ideas. It is also the first thing most people do when they find themselves immersed in a virtual world."
"....What is common to originators is not "genius" or special powers. In fact, I do not believe there is any such thing as genius. Rather it is the possession of a very large quiver of functionalities and principles. originators are steeped in the practice and theory of the principles or phenomena they will use. Whittle's father was a machinist and inventor, and Whittle was familiar with turbines from an early age.
Originators, however, do not merely master functionalities and use them once and finally in their great creation. What always precedes invention is a lengthy period of accumulating functionalities and of experimenting with them on small problems as five-finger exercises. often in this period of working with functionalities you can see hints of what originators will use. Five years before his revelation, Charles Townes had argued in a memo that microwave radio "has now been extended to such short wavelengths that it overlaps a region rich in molecular resonances, where quantum mechanical theory and spectroscopic techniques can provide aids to radio engineering." Molecular resonance was exactly what he would use to invent the maser."
W. Brian Arthur
The Nature of Technology: What it is and how it evolves
"The greatest invention of the last century was the invention of invention itself."
"But the world does move, and its motive power under God is the fearless thought and speech of those who dare to be in advance of their time-who are sneered at and shunned through their days of struggle as lunatics, dreamers, impracticables and visionaries, men of crochets, vagaries and isms."
"Invention" being incapable of absolute definition, and its presence or absence being largely sensed rather than determined, the standard of invention is necessarily a variable one. Whatever may be the difficulties in sensing invention in mechanical or electrical cases, the difficulty in chemical cases is compounded by the judicially accepted fact that reasoning by analogy is much more restricted..."
Robert A. Buckles
Ideas, Inventions, And Patents
"We work by exorcising incessant superstition that there are mysterious tribal gods against you. Nature has neither rewards nor punishments, only consequences. You can use science to make it work for you. There's only nothingness and chaos out there until the human mind recognizes it."
-Edwin Land inventor
"Edwin Land and his daughter went to visit the Grand canon many years ago. Founder of the Polaroid Corporation, Land brought along a camera to snap some photographs of his little girl in the midst of the great natural wonder. She was so excited by what she saw that she blurted out a question that took her father by storm, "Daddy, why can't we see the pictures now?"
The question set Land to inventing. From its beginnings in 1937, Polaroid had produced sunglasses (at the time called "day glasses"), goggles, and synthetic polarizers. On February 21, 1947, the direction of the company was dramatically and completely changed. On that day, at the meeting of the Optical Society of America in New York city. Land presented his latest invention, a film that could develop its own image in an instant. For Edwin Land, his daughter's naive question exposed a "perfect" problem. Its solution led to a giant leap innovation in photography and, for decades, an enormously profitable, virtually monopolistic business for Polaroid. unfortunately, Polaroid never asked a "perfect" question ever again, and after a run of unbeatable success, the company has been in sharp decline for over a decade and has fallen so far behind in technology advances that it has hovered near bankruptcy.
The perfect problem asks the perfect question of the perfect person. With the little girl had asked a park ranger the question, instead of Edwin Land, her father, chances are that we still wouldn't have the Polaroid camera."
Shira P. White with G. Patton Wright
New Ideas About New Ideas
"The system makes it hard to sell anything above the marginal cost of goods, unless you have a really innovative idea, which can't stay innovative for long, so you need continuous invention and reinvention, too..."
(a character in) Makers by Cory Doctorow
Wall Street Journal Nov 23, 2009 article: Technology is Stranger Than Fiction by L. Gordon Crovitz
"Every industry that required a factory yesterday only needs a garage today."
-Cory Doctorow Makers
"You don't want to start out with a perfect thing. That shuts you down."
"As the world went on to enjoy these innovations, (weaving machines) the discarded workers of the textile trade could do little more than sulk, starve and, occasionally, demolish the offending machines. For this resistance they paid a heavy price. The authorities of the day enacted brutal punishments, including the death penalty, for those caught destroying the new machines. History has also not been kind in its characterization of these discarded workers, often called Luddites, who are almost always bad-mouthed as vengeful stick-in-the muds, imprisoned by their own self-interest and unable to see the broader benefits for mankind in the changes they so fiercely resisted.
A parallel of sorts could be drawn between the Luddites and a very different sort of group fiercely resisting change today. Today's group doesn't go about breaking into people's houses or smashing new machinery that threatens them. They don't need to. They're running the world."
It's the Crude Dude: Greed, Gas, War, and the American Way
"As chairman of Exxon from 1993 to 2005, Raymond mobilized the vast resources of his company (Exxon) to make sure that the world remains hooked on oil. Perhaps more than any single individual, he fought to block the implementation of the Kyoto accord. Exxon's aggressive ten-year campaign culminated in George W. Bush's dramatic decision, two months after taking office, to withdraw U.S. support for Kyoto, seriously jeopardizing the world's chances of addressing global warming before the damage becomes irreversible. This, more than anything, is the true measure of Exxon's exceptional power-the power to block the world from taking action to save itself, because that action might hurt the company's stock prospects."
It's the Crude Dude: greed, Gas, War , and the American Way
"What the American (economic) system is good at is....coming up with innovative ideas that are economically feasible."
-Edmund Phelps Nobel laureate
"The inventive genius and initiative of the American people is being held back by the fact that our industrial field is so controlled that new entries, newcomers, new adventurers, independent men are feared, and if they will not go partners in the game with those already in control of it, they will be excluded."
Woodrow Wilson 1912
"So stubborn are the defenses of a mature society against change that shock treatment is often required to bring about renewal. A nation will postpone critically important social changes until war or depression forces the issue. many a business firm has had to go through bankruptcy before initiating obviously necessary reforms."
-John W. Gardner
Self-Renewal: The individual and the Innovative Society
"How does a society develop such stubborn resistance to innovation? In some respects it is not unlike the process of individual narrowing which we have already discussed."
-John W. Gardner
"Of the process that reduce the initial flexibility and venturesomeness of individuals and organizations, none is more celebrated in folk wisdom than the changes resulting from accumulation of possessions. Preoccupation with conserving what we have may make us much less venturesome than the individual who through choice or necessity is "traveling light." To some extent we are all owned by our possessions. As William James put it, "Lives based on having are less free than lives based either on doing or on being."
It is not simply a question of possessions but of obligations of all sorts. The individual acquires debts, installment and insurance payments. organizations acquire a heavy overhead and long-term commitments. An institution acquires an elaborate physical plant that cannot be easily disposed of or reshaped.
The accumulations that weigh one down may even be of the nonmaterial sort, for example, reputation or status. An organization may avoid experimental ventures because it fears to damage its reputation for soundness. Many a gifted scholar has allowed his creative talent to be smothered by a growing commitment to his own previously stated doctrines. many an established specialist fears the loss of his reputation if he ventures beyond the territory where he has proved his mastery. Indeed this fear is the greatest obstacle to intellectual breadth in the scholarly world."
John W. Gardner
Necessity not the mother of invention
Adapted from 'Cities and the Wealth of Nations' by Jane Jacobs
"An emeritus professor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cyril Stanley Smith, points out that historically necessity has not been the mother of invention; rather, necessity opportunistically picks up invention and improvises improvements on it and new uses for it, but the roots of invention are to be found elsewhere, in motives like curiosity and especially, Smith noted, 'aesthetic curiosity.'
'Even wheels were at first frivolities; the most ancient known to us are parts of toys'
Metallurgy itself, he reminds us, began with hammering copper into necklace beads and other ornaments 'long before 'Useful" knives and weapons' were made of copper or bronze. Possibly even wheels were at first frivolities; the most ancient known to us are parts of toys. Hydraulics and many mechanical ingenuities and tricks were first developed for toys or other amusements. The chemical industry grew from the need for quantities of mordents, bleaches, and alkalis for use in the finer textiles and glass. Rockets for fun came before their military use or space travel. The first successful railroad in the world was an amusement ride in London.
'All big things grow from little things, 'Smith comments, with this cautionary addition, 'but new little things are destroyed by their environments unless they are cherished for reasons more like aesthetic appreciation than practical utility.'
The Book of Visions An Encyclopedia of Social Innovations
'....When the boat reached the middle of the river, it slowly turned around and began to move upstream. A thin plume of smoke flowed out of the stack. The crowd began to cheer. To eighteenth-century eyes, the vessel must have seemed to move by magic. No oars, no sails, no setting poles propelled it; only a gurgle of large bubbles at the stern hinted at the jet of water that the engine was pumping through the tube in the boat's hull.
The sounds coming from this early steamboat were oddly quiet for such a primitive machine. It did not make the loud, chugging, splashing sounds of the later Mississippi steamboats. In fact, the only noise the observers could hear-other than the shouts of joy from its passengers and crew-was a sound like the beating of a kettle drum: a resonant, rhythmic thump-thump, thump-thump loud enough to be heard several blocks away. "I was standing next to General Gates," wrote townsman Henry Bedinger years later. "When she moved out and he saw her going off up the river against the current by the force of steam alone, he took off his hat and exclaimed, "My God, she moves!"......"
Steam: The Untold Story of America's First Great Invention
"A man's useful inventions subject him to insult, robbery, and abuse."
"The fact is, that one new idea leads to another, that to a third, and so on through a course of time until someone, with whom no one of these ideas was original, combines all together, and produces what is justly called a new invention."
"Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the co-operation of many minds. I may be given credit for having blazed the trail but when I look at the subsequent developments I feel the credit is due to others rather than to myself."
-Alexander Graham Bell
"He that studies and writes on the improvements of the arts and sciences labours to benefit generations unborn, for it is improbable that his contemporaries will pay any attention to him."
"The most important invention is the idea of continued scientific and technological progress. The individual who deserves the most credit for this idea is Francis Bacon. Before Bacon, progress occurred, but it was sporadic, and most people did not expect to see new inventions in their lifetime. The idea of continued scientific progress became institutionalized in the Academei dei Lincei, the Royal Society, and other scientific academies; and the idea of continued invention was institutionalized with the patent laws."
The Greatest Inventions of the Past 2,000 Years ed by John Brockman
"Machines may be made by which the largest ships, with only one man steering them, will be moved faster than if they were filled with rowers; wagons may be built which will move with incredible speed and without the aid of beasts; flying machines can be constructed in which a man....may beat the air with wings like a bird."
-Roger Bacon, c.1260
"In March 2004, not long after the hundredth anniversary of the Wright brothers' famous first flight at Kitty Hawk, I gave a lecture titled "Achieving Your Potential" to an audience of executives in Interlaken, the Swiss mountain resort. To illustrate the danger of a lack of strategic visions, I chose the example of the Wright brothers and their famous invention. Hundreds of engineers had died attempting to invent a flying machine, and Orville and Wilbur succeeded, going down-or up-in history for all time.
And yet they never believed the airplane would amount to much beyond novelty and sport. The American scientific community shared that view, and soon the USA fell away behind in the aircraft business. The Wright brothers failed to envision the potential of their creation, and it was left to others to exploit the power of flight for commercial and military purposes. To this cautionary tale I added that we don't fly on Wright airplanes today. America needed someone who combined entrepreneurial vision with engineering prowess, and that man was William Boeing. More than just a strategist, Boeing was also a creative tactician."
How Life Imitates Chess
"The most important invention of all time was the interrogative sentence-that is, the asking of questions."
"It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question."
"Neil Postman said that for thirty-five years he had tried to figure out "why question-asking is not considered a core subject in school?"
"The answers you get depend upon the questions you ask."
"A problem well put is half solved."
-John Dewey, quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Education
"When all men think alike, no one thinks very much."
"For the idea which at first glance does not seem crazy, there is no hope."
"In the availability of men willing to persevere with a possibly "ridiculous" idea, America had an advantage."
-Frank D. Prager
"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done and why- then do it."
"What seems mundane and trivial is the very stuff that discovery is made of. The only difference is our readiness to put the pieces together in an entirely new way and to see patterns where only shadows appeared a moment before."
-Edward B. Lindman
Thinking in Future Terms
"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe."
"I did not set out to design a house that hung from a pole...or to manufacture a new type of automobile, invent a new system of map projection, develop geodesic domes or Energetic Geometry. I started with the Universe-as an organization of regenerative principles frequently manifest as energy systems of which all our experiences, and possible experiences, are only local instances. I could have ended up with a pair of flying slippers."
- R. Buckminster Fuller
What questions are interesting?
Wiesner: "Why do you light up when you recognize something? What is recognition? What is analogy? Why does the brain recognize both verbal and visual analogy and even the link between them?"
-Jerome B. Wiesner, former President of MIT
"Most of my advances were by mistake. You uncover what is when you get rid of what isn't."
-R. Buckminster Fuller
"The larger the number for whom I worked, the more positively effective I became. Thus it became obvious that if I worked always and only for all humanity, I would be optimally effective."
-R. Buckminster Fuller
"When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think about how to solve the problem. But when I've finished, if the solution isn't beautiful, I know it's wrong."
-R Buckminster Fuller
"The combination of liberty and dignity for the bourgeoisie sparked the modern revolution that we wrongly, in McCloseky's view (Deirdre N. McCloseky author of "bourgeois Dignity"*) attribute to "capitalism." The word is inapt, she argues because the mere accumulation of capital is beside the point.
The kings of Spain collected lots of gold from the New World, and no economic miracle ensued.
It's innovation that's the thing, entrepreneurial "alertness," the ceaseless drive for the new, the better, the cheaper.
The fruit of the new dispensation first made itself felt in Britain around 1820, but the formula results in rapid economic advance wherever it's adopted, from Singapore to China to India.
This might be cold comfort at a time of 9.6 percent unemployment.
It suggests, though, that the basic recipe for economic success is simple, if not necessarily easy-celebrate, reward, and create the conditions for innovation...."
-Rich Lowry review of Dierdre N. McClosky's book "Bourgeois Dignity" (Rich Lowry is editor of national Review)
"Unfortunately, special interests will always pursue anti-innovation trade and regulatory policies to protect their fiefdoms.
Unfortunately it's easier to prop up what's old than foster what's new. A few years ago, the federal Reserve handed out billions upon billions of dollars to practically every large, established firm in America...."
-Rich Lowry Editor of National Review
"The key obstacle now is Washington's backward-looking obstructionist approach to energy-a pork-barrel fiesta that Senator John McCain has called the "leave no lobbyist behind" approach. That has led some to despair that nothing good can ever come out of Congress on energy, given the power of the oil and car lobbies. Techno-utopians argue that magical new technologies will save us, while market fundamentalists say that the invisible hand will do the trick. Well-intentioned corporations keen on clean energy and carbon-free technologies make the argument that "corporate social responsibility," not public policy, is the key. And small-government types are anyway suspicious of Washington."
-Jain Carson and Vijay V Vaitheeswaran
ZOOM: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future
"....And yet, the Washington policy machine marches on as though Axis of Oil still rules supreme."
"D.C. is a castle trying to resist good ideas and technology coming from all over the U.S.A. The federal government has a defeatist attitude."
-Congressman Jay Inslee
"As a government official who has witnessed oil and auto industry duplicity and lobbying firsthand, I can testify that it is nearly impossible to perform that function sitting on the other side of the petroleum-powered smoke screen. Both the oil industry and the auto industry have acted again and again to deceive regulators about the hazards of their products and have used their wealth to hamstring attempts by state and federal legislators to make laws that address such threats."
Lives Per Gallon: The True Cost of Our Oil Addiction
"....a modern car burns each day fuel derived from 100 times its weight in ancient plants; yet a mere 0.3% of that fuel moves the driver."
Winning the Oil Endgame
"Forget great ideologies! Politics can't live up to its promise of a better world-but value-driven science and technology can, by improving the material base. The key is practically improving the lives of ordinary people."
"But problems are like the Hydra of the myth of Herakles; cut off one head and two more sprout. Scientists and engineers have, by using their intelligence, solved some human problems. But the solutions themselves have given rise to still greater problems-nationalism, nuclear war, population explosion, and degenerative mutation pressure, to name but a few. If civilization is to last, and the problems are not to grow beyond all coping, the rest of mankind, and not just the scientists and engineers will have to use 'intelligence also, and more than they have so far."
-L. Sprague De Camp
The Ancient Engineers
"Sometimes having a new idea simply means stopping having an old idea"
"Then, too, the very notion of a patent is an invention in its own right. No such beast existed-not in this country, anyway-before 1790, when Thomas Jefferson brought the system into being as a way of encouraging the ingenuity of the common citizen. Two hundred and some years later, the American patent system is the intellectual property of about 180 examiners who sit in a building down in Washington and decide once a week what is and what is not new under the sun. That in itself seems odd and worth considering.
The Patent Files
"Even with such a luxury of patents, the protection in most cases would be illusory. I therefore propose giving the patenting of chemical improvements the name "Taxation of inventors for the encouragement of Parasites."
-Alfred Nobel, 1870s
".....Selden felt he had done enough to accomplish his true goal, which was not to invent a workable engine, but rather to stake a technical patent claim that could one day be used to exact tribute from others. This was the custom in patent warfare. As an attorney, Selden was a skillful practitioner of the art. He knew every trick in the book.
First, Selden commissioned a nonworking model and drawings of his machine, disregarding the obligation to build and make available for inspection a true working model. Next he commenced the most protracted and artful manipulation of the patent system on record.
Filing his application on May 8,1879, was only the beginning, Now ensured an interminably long procession of amendments, resubmission, revisions, and requ4ests for extensions. This numbing delay lasted sixteen and a half years, designed not to obtain a patent for anything he had innovated but to systematically incorporate all new automotive progress into his own ever-evolving patent and thereby emerge with grandfathered primacy based on the original date of the application. Patent laws enacted in 1870 required that all questions be answered within two years, but a loop-hole provided for unlimited two-year renewals. Each amendment or renewal was filed by Selden at almost the last day permissible by the rules.
Selden's insufficient application was first rejected on May 31, 1879. His first amendment was filed one year and 360 days later on May 26,1881, just four days shy of the deadline. With unusual speed, the Patent Office on June 17,1881, rejected the amended application as well; Selden waited until May 15, 1883-one year and 335 days-to file his second amendment. Within ten days, the Patent Office rejected Selden again, and once more he waited until almost too late, this time until May 18,1885, to file a third amendment. This tenacious deadline dance repeated itself year after year. In one case, he waited a year and 353 days to amend, and in another year he edged right to the brink, amending one year and 363 days after rejection.
By the time Selden's calculated delays had run their course, he had withdrawn his original nineteen bases for a patent and replaced them with some one hundred modifications and amendments based on the year-to-year progress of other inventors. Hence, he was able to absorb the latest technological advances into his original worthless patent.."
"Electric Light-....Good enough for our transatlantic friends, but unworthy of the attention of practical or scientific men."
-British Parliament report on Edison's work, 1878
"The Telephone- That's an amazing invention, but who would ever want to use one of them?"
-Pres. Rutherford Hayes, 1876
Medicine- "The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will be forever shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon."
-Leading British surgeon Sir John Erichsen 1837
-Television- "People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night."
-Darryl F. Zanuck, head of Twentieth Century Fox, 1946
"The popular mind often pictures gigantic flying machines speeding across the Atlantic and carrying innumerable passengers....it seems safe to say that such ideas are wholly visionary."
-Harvard astronomer Wm. Henry Pickering, 1908
"There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home."
-Ken Olson, Pres. of Digital Equipment Corp.,1977
"My wife Popsy-Wopsy can't invent."
-Thomas Alva Edison
Book: "Hedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World" Richard Rhodes
"the role model of our time should be an actress who was never nominated for an Oscar. Hedy Lamarr did well enough on the screen but, just in case, she spent her free time developing something called frequency-hopping spread-spectrum....
"I shall write little about female inventors. most of our inventors are of the male sex. Why is the percentage (of women) so low? I am sure I don't know, unless the good Lord intended them to be mothers. I, being old-fashioned, hold that they are creative enough without also being inventive. They produce the inventors and help rear them, and that should be sufficient."
Inventors and Inventions
"Josephine Cochran invented the dishwashing machine. She received her patent in 1886"
Harriet Tracy invented the safety elevator
"By 1957 Eleanor Raymond and Maria Telkes had perfected solar heating; Grace Murray Hopper created the basis of computer software; Melitta Bentz invented the modern coffeepot; Mary Engle Pennington developed refrigeration; Margaret Knight invented the square-bottomed bag; Katherine Burr Blodgett patented invisible glass; Gladys Hobby produced the first usable penicillin; Kate Gleason designed the first tract housing; and Hattie Alexander had cured Meningitis. Bakeland is honored for inventing Bakelite.but not Madame Dutillet, who created cultured marble a century before.
Snubbing women inventors isn't even exclusive to the New World. In ancient Athens, women were forbidden "to study or practice medicine or physic on pain of death." The medieval Church elevated prejudice against female intellect to the point of dogma. The Malleus declares, "When a woman thinks alone, she thinks evil." Eighteenth-century scientist and reformist philosopher Immanuel Kant stated: "All abstract reason, all knowledge which is dry, it is cautioned, must be abandoned to the laborious and solid mind of man. For this reason, women will never learn geometry." Fellow freethinker Jean-Jacques Rousseau echoed those sentiments when he wrote: "An inquiry into abstract truths, into the principles and axioms of science that render our ideas more general, is not the province of women."
Mothers of Invention
"In reality, women have always been actively involved in the actual advancement of the useful arts, contributing daily and significantly to the practical activities of human sustenance, security, and survival. As technology came to be mythologicaly defined as masculine, however, their presence, efforts, and achievements became ideologically invisible. Women invent, but are not recognized as inventors. This is the whole of the story, observed Autumn Stanley, author of the first encyclopedic study of women's historic and enduring contributions to the development of the useful arts. Stanley has amply documented the full range of female inventions from the dawn of human society to the present age, and has concluded "Women invent. Women have always invented. Women still invent. They invent significant things. They create breakthroughs and fundamental inventions. And they do all this in the full range of human endeavor and technology. "The real question, she argues, "is not, why so few? But why do we know so few?"
David F. Noble
The Religion of Technology
"The inventor, who as a rule, is poor or without means tries to interest someone in his invention, but nine times out of ten he does not succeed. Often he does not have the money to develop the invention himself and frequently he dies of a broken heart, for the reason that he has not been able to realize the fruits of his labor. In that case, the world has lost a man who might have enriched it by untold thousands."
Speech by Hugo Gernsback 1922
"When you say woman doesn't invent anything, I ask, Who invented the Jacquard loom that wove every stitch you wear? Mrs. Jacquard. The printer roller, the printing press, were invented by farmers wives. Who invented the cotton gin of the South that enriched our country so amazingly? Mrs. General Greene invented the cotton gin and showed the idea to Mr. Whitney, and he, like a man, seized it. Who was it that invented the sewing machine? If I would go to school tomorrow and ask your children they would say, "Elias Howe."
He was in the Civil war with me, and often in my tent, and I often heard him say that he worked fourteen years to get up that sewing machine. But his wife made up her mind one day that they would starve to death if there wasn't something or other invented pretty soon, and so in two hours she invented the sewing machine. Of course he took out the patent in his name. Men always do that. Who was it that invented the mower and the reaper? According to Mr. McCormick confidential communication, so recently published, it was a West Virginia woman, who, after his father and he had failed altogether in making a reaper and gave it up, took a lot of shears and nailed them together on the edge of a board, with one shaft of each pair loose, and then wired them so that when she pulled the wire the other way it opened them, and she pulled the wire the other way it opened them, and there she had the principle of the mowing machine. If you look at a mowing machine, you will see it is nothing but a lot of shears. If a woman can invent a mowing machine, if a woman can invent a Jacquard loom, if a woman can invent a cotton gin, if woman can invent a trolley switch-as she did and made the trolleys possible; if a woman can invent, as Mr. Carnegie said, the great iron squeezer that laid the foundation of all the steel millions of the United States, "we men" can invent anything under the stars! I say that for the encouragement of the men."
Russell H. Conwell (founder of Temple Univ)
(This excerpt is from his famous Chautauqua speech "Acres of Diamonds)
"Many lone inventors, especially those who achieved miraculous electrical and chemical breakthroughs, believed that they were chosen by God to deliver their developments to man, a conviction that endured for decades. "Americans believed the great natural truths of the world were being revealed to men through God's goodness." wrote Mitchell Wilson, author of American Science and Inventions. "When all the secrets had been revealed, then men would life in perfect peace and perfect happiness".
Evan I. Schwartz
The Last Lone Inventor
Book: "George Washington Carver: His Life & Faith in His Own Words" by William J. Federer
"We picture inventors as heroes with the genius to recognize and solve their society's perceived problems. In reality, the greatest inventors have been tinkerers who loved tinkering for its own sake, and who then had to figure out what (if anything) their devices might be good for. When Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman discovered nuclear fission in 1938, they weren't German bomb builders; they were curious German chemists tinkering with uranium. As for Gutenberg himself, we have no idea what originally motivated him, but we do know that he was a skilled metalworker associated with a goldsmiths' guild, and he was clearly a genius at playing with metals.
The prime example of tinker-driven inventing is Thomas Edison's phonograph, widely considered to be the most brilliant invention of America's most brilliant inventor. When Edison built his first phonograph in 1877, it was not in response to a growing national clamor to hear Beethoven's symphonies at home. Instead, Edison was intrigued by the challenge of building something that could capture sound. Having built it, he wasn't sure what to do with it, so he drew up a list of ten possible uses. High on his list were recording the last words of dying people, announcing clock time, and teaching spelling. When entrepreneurs instead incorporated his invention into a machine to play music, Edison objected to this debasement of his idea."
afterword to The Greatest Inventions of the Past 2000 Years
"Most inventions failed, and most of the unheralded inventors stayed unheralded. The popular mass-produced Singer sewing machines of the 1860s were preceded by a century of sewing machines that didn't work very well. Primitive dishwashers were being patented for a century before improved models came into general household use in the 1950s. Fiber optics preoccupied dozens of inventors, starting with John Tyndall in 1854 and Alexander Graham Bell in 1880, but did not start carrying telephone conversations until 1977. How could these millions of often haphazard experiments, whether conducted in corporate laboratories or a local crackpot's basement, have so often surpassed the accomplishments of educated specialists and government planners? Perhaps because, as the mathematician H.B. Phillips maintained, liberalism and free enterprise promote the emergence of what he called "thought centers," "Advances will be most frequent when the number of independent thought centers is greatest, and the number of thought centers will be greatest when there is maximum individual liberty," Phillips wrote, "Thus it appears that maximum liberty is the condition most favorable to progress," Through free experimentation the steam engine, the clock, and the dynamo gained sufficient dominion over space, time, and energy to fulfill the optimistic predictions of inventors like William Strutt, who in 1823 suggested that although he knew that his forecast would "be laughed at," the day would come when "time, distance, and expense shall be almost annihilated."
-Timothy Ferris: the Science of Liberty
" We know the names of no living inventors, unless perhaps Dr. Jonas Salk is moved from the scientist category over to inventor, but even he is unknown compared to the fame that was Edison's. The solo inventor, then and now, continues to make major contributions, and they are often doubly important because they are based on hypotheses which the big corporate and university laboratories have rejected, have willfully ignored or don't know about. The corporate research facilities are adept enough at taking someone's idea and engineering products out of it, but their record for breakthrough invention is unimpressive. The solo genius in the twentieth century has been given credit for at least the following: air conditioning, automatic transmission for automobiles, power steering, the helicopter, catalytic cracking of petroleum, cellophane, the jet engine, Kodachrome film, magnetic recording, the Polaroid Land camera, quick-freezing, xerography, all-purpose digital electronic computer and the laser. You'll notice that these achievements are not recent. The giants are coming fewer and farther between.
Igor Sikorsky, the helicopter's inventor, and to a lesser extend, Edwin Land, inventor of instant photography and freelance scientist of signal accomplishment, won a degree of public acclaim. In general , however, in the era of big institut9ions of overweening power, the stand-alone inventor/scientist is a geek and crackpot. Anonymous people working as part of a "team" is why "progress is our most important product" at General Electric. The thrust of corporate advertising and argument is to downplay individual accomplishment. Where heroes are manufactured, they are of the Chuck Yeager sort, daredevil, brass-balled types, who help with merchandising but hardly serve as an inspiration for a little girl, gifted in the sciences, to strike out on her own, not in a space suit, but at a laboratory bench. Yeager, the manufactured merchandising hero of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the immense corporate organizations entwined through it, has no corresponding brain hero. Little Yeager dolls dressed up in fly-jockey zoom-zoom suits can be sold separately or as part of a fast food promotion. In either case they also glamorize the laboratory teams, both corporate and governmental, which put him in his supersonic jet and NASA's space-suited glamour pusses in orbit.
Cast into oblivion is the non-team player without whom there would be no NASA , no rockets, no jets, no nothing. Robert Goddard was both the quintessential Yankee tinker/inventor and the prototypic non-team player. Goddard, who held an amazing 214 patents covering every aspect of rocketry and jet propulsion, worked for years alone among the cacti of Roswell New Mexico, inventing, engineering, experimenting and perfecting. He got there because at age seventeen, on October 19,1899, he had what has been described as a mystical vision of space flight. For the rest of his life he referred to the date as his "Anniversary Day." This is no role model for anybody in the color-me-vanilla corpo-cratic culture fostered by modern business. God, if only genius didn't play loony tunes, but then even many of our greatest businessmen couldn't get a job in the businesses they themselves founded if they were to apply fifty years later."
Nicholas Von Hoffman
" Many traditional companies have formalized the process of brain-storming, reducing it to an activity often characterized as the untrained leading the unwilling to do the unnecessary. However, many, if not most, successful innovations come from the "wrong" places-nonconformists with an obsession, individuals stumbling on new discoveries by accident, people finding new uses for products intended for different markets, and so on. After twenty-five years of of studying IBM, General Electric, Polaroid, and Xerox, James Brian Quinn of the Amos Tuck Business School at Dartmouth College found that not a single major product had come from the formal planning process.
Unfortunately, brainstorming, in one form or another, is often the only creative tool used today by most organizations. An unruly mass of new ideas is generated. A few are chosen, usually based on traditional criteria and old metrics. However, most brainstorming results in incremental "newness." More often than not, it becomes a trap, a waste of intellectual capital and time.
Another big problem lies with the people involved in brainstorming and in what they do with the ideas that are generated. In most organizations, those ideas are likely to collect dust, or they end up thrown away, right away. many brainstorming initiatives simply fail to produce meaningful innovation. Companies need to engage in more creative initiatives before, after, and sometimes instead of brainstorming in order to generate and develop successful innovation concepts."
-Shira P. White & G. Patton Wright
New Ideas About New Ideas: Insights on Creativity from the World's Leading Innovators
"...We will see that, contrary to social-science wisdom, almost no discovery, no technologies of note, came from design and planning-they were just Black Swans. The strategy for the discoverers and entrepreneurs is to rely less on top-down planning and focus on maximum tinkering and recognizing opportunities when they present themselves. "
-Nassim Nicholas Taleb
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
"Stated most simply, my conjecture is that the computer can concretize (and personalize) the formal. Seen in this light, it is not just another powerful educational tool. It is unique in providing us with the means for addressing what Piaget and many others see as the obstacle which is overcome in the passage from child to adult thinking. I believe that it can allow us to shift the boundary separating concrete and formal. Knowledge that was accessible only through formal processes can now be approached concretely. And the real magic comes from the fact that this knowledge includes those elements one needs to become a formal thinker."
"Monturiol's talent for invention was exceptional; he was, in the words of historian Lluis Permanyer, "a machine for generating ideas." And yet, according to Monturiol himself, "We are all, more or less inventors." For an inventor is just "a poor apprentice of an art that does not yet have a master," and we all labor like amateurs to invent our particular lives, an art for which there is not master. About his own accomplishments, Monturiol wrote: "As a printer, I did not stop until I could print paper in a roll; as a smoker, until I could make cigarettes mechanically; as a man, until I created the submarine chamber, adequate to sustain life in inhospitable environments, whether in the ocean or elsewhere; as a physicist I have created the submarine motor, the aerial motor, etc." Invention was the way he invented himself. It was the way he became what he was."
Monturiol's Dream: The Extraordinary Story of the Submarine Inventor Who wanted to save the World
"Scientists are often blind to the ramifications of even their own discoveries. Ernest Rutherford, the greatest nuclear physicist of his time, famously dismissed as "moonshine" the practical relevance of nuclear energy. The pioneers of radio regarded wireless transmission as a substitute for the telegraph, rather than as a means for "one-to-many" broadcasting. Neither the great computer designer and mathematician John von Neumann nor the IBM founder Thomas J. Watson envisaged a need for more than a few computing machines in the country. Today's ubiquitous mobile phones and palmtop computers would amaze anyone from a century ago; they are exemplars of Arthur C. Clarke's dictum than any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. So what might happen in the new century that would be "magic" to us?
Our Final Hour
"The process is not one that can be easily controlled from the top down. There is always a temptation for governments to pursue science with particular commercial aims in view. But this rarely works: Had there been a stated purpose to quantum physics in the the 1920s, it would have been deemed a failure. And yet quantum physics has given us the transistor, the laser, the basis of nanotechnology, and much else besides. Building a capacity for advanced technology is not like planning production in a socialist economy, but more like growing a rock garden. Planting, watering, and weeding are more appropriate than five year plans."
-W. Brian Arthur
The nature of Technology
"Next to Nobel's invention of dynamite, it is hard to imagine another single technological discovery or innovation that has had as long, and as lasting, an impact on human affairs and the shaping of our physical and social environment. Without Nobel's dynamite our modern economy would not exist, while Haber's creative genius has had unfathomable repercussions for agriculture and global population in the century that followed. The story of Nobel and Haber and their scientific innovation is one of the epic stories of human accomplishment. It is the tale of a remarkable technology, the historic impact of that technology, and the globe-spanning struggle for the raw material required to create and make use of it."
Stephen R. Bown
A Most Damnable Invention
"The trick is not so much to demonstrate your critical faculties by picking holes in the ideas, but, as a brainstorming, more to prove your ingenuity by imagining an improvement."
"Take interest, I implore you, in those sacred dwellings which are designated by the expressive term, laboratories. Demand that they be multiplied and advanced. These are the temples of the future, temples of well-being and happiness......where Humanity grows greater, stronger, better."
"I had an immense advantage over many others dealing with the problem inasmuch as I had no fixed ideas derived from long established practice to control and bias my mind, and did not suffer from the general belief that whatever is, is right."
-Sir Henry Bessemer (Inventor of the Bessemer process for steelmaking)
"When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think about how to solve the problem. but when I've finished, if the solution isn't beautiful, I know it's wrong."
"To invent, you need a goal, imagination and a pile of junk."
"The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts."
"When everything being dealt with in a computer system is visible, the display screen relieves the load on the short-term memory by acting as a sort of "virtual cache." Thinking becomes easier and more productive. A well-designed computer system can actually improve the quality of your thinking....A subtle thing happens when everything is visible: the display becomes reality. The user model becomes identical with what is on the screen. Objects can be understood purely in terms of their visible characteristics.....One way to get consistency into a system is to adhere to paradigms for operations. By applying a successful way of working in one area to other areas, a system acquires a unity that is both apparent and real....These paradigms change the very way you think. They lead to new habits and models of behavior that are more powerful and productive. They can lead to a human-machine synergism."
-Smith Et Al, "The Star user Interface, " 1982
"At first it was easy to keep the world the way it had been, and just add on a few of the new items,. But small gadgets can have unexpected effects. The first transistor radios went on sale in the 1950s, and the quantum effects they harnessed used so little power that their batteries were small. This meant kids could carry them around, which meant they no longer had to listen to the same music their parents did. Teenagers more and more formed their own subculture, and a new market for popular music was born. With cheap electric guitars, and low-cost amplifying speakers-also made possible by silicone-small groups could match the volume of big bands. Obscure start-ups could flourish. Elvis and then Motown and the Rolling Stones appeared."
Electric Universe: The Shocking True story of Electricity
"Only a few variants have the potential to start a new branching series that will greatly enrich the stream of made things, have an impact on human life, and become known as 'great inventions' or 'turning point in the history of technology."
The Evolution of Technology
"We are whirling through endless space with an inconceivable speed, all around us everything is spinning, everything is moving, and everywhere is energy. There must be some way of availing ourselves of this energy more directly."
"Four thousand years ago, when we couldn't even read, the Chinese knew all the absolutely useful things we boast about today."
-Voltaire The Philosophical Dictionary, 1764
"certainly, the growing seed is gathering nourishment from its environment, but the process is no mere sticking together of the nutritive elements, for it absorbs and transforms them, and one sees nothing like this in the manufacture of an electric motor or computer."
"People were born to innovate, to invent."
"The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from the old ones."
-John Maynard Keynes
"I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones."
"At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done, ....Then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago."
-Frances Hodgson Burnett
"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."
-R. Buckminster Fuller
"many traditional companies have formalized the process of brain-storming, reducing it to an activity often characterized as the un-trained leading the unwilling to do the unnecessary. However, many, if not most, successful innovations come from the "wrong" places-nonconformists with an obsession, individuals stumbling on new discoveries by accident, people finding new uses for products intended for different markets, and so on. After twenty-five years of studying IBM, General Electric, Polaroid and Xerox. James Brian Quinn of the Amos Tuck Business School at Dartmouth College found that not a single major product had come from the formal planning process."
-Shira P. White & G. Patton Wright
New Ideas About New Ideas: Insights on Creativity From the World's Leading Innovators
"Civilization, as we know it today, owes its existence to the engineers. These are the wo/men who, down through the long centuries, have learned to exploit the properties of matter and the sources of power for the benefit of mankind. By an organized, rational effort to use the material world around them, engineers devised the myriad comforts and conveniences that mark the differences between our lives and those of our foregathers thousands of years ago.
The story of civilization is, in a sense, the story of engineering-that long and arduous struggle to make the forces of nature work for man's good. The story of engineering, pieced together from dusty manuscripts and crumbling relics, explains as well the state of the world today as all the accounts of kings and philosophers, generals and politicians."
-L. Sprague De Camp
The Ancient Engineers
"Integrity is the essence of everything successful."
-R. Buckminster Fuller
"About thirty years ago, I realized that timing was the key to success....Most inventions and predictions tend to fail because the timing is wrong."
"As we've seen, our future is a race between good innovation and bad innovation. That's a sprint that will be decided purely by our ability to create,"
-Joshua cooper Ramo
"One of the most serious obstacles to clear thinking about renewal is the excessively narrow conception of the innovator that is commonly held. it focuses on technology and on the men who invent specific new devices: Alexander Graham Bell and the telephone; Marconi and wireless; Edison and the phonograph; the Wright Brothers and the airplane. starting from this narrow view, we would not find it easy to accept jakob Fugger, the Renaissance merchant prince, an innovator, yet he deserves the label. Claudio Monteverdi was functioning as an innovator when he modified and synthesized a number of musical traditions to create Italian opera. Several of our Founding Fathers were impressive innovators in statecraft. Dorothea Dix was an immensely effective innovator in social welfare.
We tend to think of innovators as those who contribute to a new way of doing things. But many far-reaching changes have been touched off by those who contributed to a new way of thinking about things. Thus did Planck, Einstein and Rutherford and the Newtonian era and usher in modern physics. Thus did Socrates, Zeno of Citium, St. Augustine, Copernicus and Darwin alter the course of intellectual history. One cannot reflect on such names without recognizing how striking is the diversity in content and style of innovation."
John W. Gardner
Self-Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society
"I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success.....such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything."
"Despite the enormous importance of engineers and inventors in making our daily life what it is , history does not tell much about them."
-L. Sprague De Camp
The Ancient Engineers
"Indeed, there are many reasons to forgo the perils of the patenting process. The on-liners, as is their effusive wont, are even predicting the death of intellectual property law in the face of the oncoming information bonanza. How, they ask, can you ever hope to protect your idea in an age when anyone can upload your records and make them available to half the world in the blink of a gigabyte? John Perry Barlow entered this subject with guns blazing in the March 1994 issue of Wired "While there is a certain grim fun to be had in it, dancing on the grave of copyright and patent law will solve little, especially when so few are willing to admit that the occupant is deceased, and so many are trying to uphold by force what can no longer be upheld by popular consent."
Never mind that the enforcers of whom Barlow speaks are carping mostly about software rights while the patents for dental floss, propellers, oil rigs and the rest of the carbon-based world roll merrily along. Barlow's argument is still spot-on: patent law is growing ever more nebulous, and the lawyers are growing fat rings in the process."
The Patent Files: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Invention
"Once patent applications are in the system, they sit- for years. The patent office is so clogged, it takes two years for an inventor to get an initial ruling, and an additioonal year or more before a patent is finally issued.
-Wyatt Feb 21, 2011
"There is no company I know of that would have permitted its information technology to get in the state we're in. If it had, the CEO would have been thrown out, and you would have been thrown out, and you would had share-holder lawsuits."
"There's a backlash against anonymous mass-produced goods."
-Rachel Botsman "What's Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption."
"Students and professors at the Media Laboratory write papers and books and publish them, but the byword in this grove of academe is not "Publish or Perish." In Lab parlance it's "Demo or Die"-make the case for your idea with an unfaked performance of it working at least once or let somebody else at the equipment. "We write about what we do," comments Director Negroponte, "but we don't write unless we've done it." The focus is engineering and science rather than scholarship, invention rather than studies, surveys, or critiques."
The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT
:"Technical and scientific work is usually fun. In fact, creative technical work provides much the same satisfaction that is obtained from painting, writing, and composing or performing music."
-Jerome B. Wiesner
"There was no breakthrough in terms of material....There was a breakthrough in thinking."
-Keith W. Tantilinger
"You can make a good argument-as Romer and others do-that the greatest opportunities for progress today lie, with better rules and systems. Improving schools is more about process than laptops. reining in the financial excesses that caused the burble and bust depends on better regulations, more effectively carried out. Reducing errors and expanding preventive medicine, as Atul Gawande, the surgeon and writer, puts it, "can arguably save more lives in the next decade than bench science, more lives than research on the genome, stem-cell therapy, cancer vaccines and all the other laboratory work we hear about in the news."
-David Leonhardt (article in The New York Times Magazine Dec 25,2011) about Keith W. Tantinger inventor of one of the significant inventions of the 20th century-shipping containers improved_
"Putting things together, he found, was closely coupled to understanding how things worked. He was 10 or 11 when he decided to find out how a locomotive reversed its direction. In the rail-road yard of the Shelby Iron Works, he located a resting locomotive and traced the linkages from the great reversing lever in the cab through all the eccentric rods, pistons, and vale rods, until suddenly the entire system was clear to him. Hugging himself with glee. he skipped home singing aloud, "Oh, I am happy; I am so happy."
Lee De Forest by Howard J. Lewis in Those Inventive Americans National Geographic Society
"Dear Sir....I intend to be a machinist and inventor, because I have great talents in that direction....if this be so, why not allow me to so study at Yale's Sheffield Scientific School as to best prepare myself for that profession?....I think you will agree with me about this on reflection , and earnestly hope you will act accordingly and educate me for my profession."
(letter from Lee De Forest to his Father-at age 15)
"Well Lee, if you positively know you want that sort of half-baked education, you may have it....I can only say I hope you never regret the choice you are now making."
"There's always something wrong with a new idea. But you have to be careful of people who say there are no new ideas because they're likely to fool you into never getting any new ideas."
"Nineteenth-Century Wags were only half joking when they declared that invention was the last resort of all unsuccessful Americans....."
-Carroll W. Pursell, Jr
"I believe you can chooses to approach the world creatively or not creatively. There's always the possibility of turning over any task in an unusual, creative way."
-Tod Machover, composer, director, 'Opera fo the Future' MIT's Media Lab
"Our affection is generally reserved for innovators long dead."
-John W. Gardner
"The individual is born and dies-the race remains. If the individual performs well his part.....and leaves the world better than he found it, his mission is fulfilled."
-Joseph Henry (in a letter to a friend 1868)
"Nanotechnology could have more effect on our material existence than those last two great inventions in that domain-the replacement of sticks and stones by metals and cements and the harnessing of electricity.....Engines of Creation is the best attempt so far to prepare us to think of what we might become, should we persist in making new technologies."
"Innovation has always been a group activity. The myth of the lone genius having a eureka moment that changes the world is indeed a myth. Most innovation is the result of long hours, building on the input of others. Ideas spawn from earlier ideas bouncing from person to person and being reshaped as they go. If you're comfortable with the language of memes, you could say a healthy meme needs and ecosystem not of a single brain but of a network of brains. That's how ideas bump into other ideas, replicate, mutate, and evolve."
-Chris Anderson TED curator article: Wired Jan 2011
"Popular opinion never produces innovation."
"This early aircraft business resembled that of the shade-tree mechanics who, in building hot rods, gave rise, then as now, to true advances in automobile design. See also the chopper shops of California, and their influence on the world of motorcycling.
A list of these shade-tree mechanics include the Wrights, Cyrus McCormick, Henry Ford, Tesla, Tom Edison, Meg Whitman, Bill Gates, Burt Rutan, and Steve Jobs. how would they and American Industry have fared had Government gotten its hands upon them at the outset-if it had taxed away the capital necessary to provide a market for their wares; if it had taxed away the wealth, which, existing as gambling money, had taken a chance on these various visionaries? One need not wonder, but merely look around at the various businesses Government has aided. And now it has taken over health care."
The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of american Culture
"Innovation has become a lot more important to corporate leaders, in the last decade in particular, because of changes in the business environment brought on by increased technological capabilities, speed, hyper competition, and faster rates of diffusion enabled by greater connectivity. But while many companies say they are "making innovation happen, " for most of them, innovation is based on old ideas, principles, and processes. At best, their innovations are incremental-miniscule improvements in products and services. While there is nothing wrong in achieving small gains, this view of innovation shuts out the truly startling cases of leap innovation."
Shira P. White & G. Patton Wright
New Ideas About New Ideas
"Israel is the world's Techno-nation"
"Microsoft is as much an Israeli company as an American Company because of the importance of Israeli technologists."
"We are faced with some problems for which petraflop super-computers will not be fast enough.....That's why we need to start designing an architecture now for exaflop-caliber computing."
Doug Doerfler Sandia National Labs
"An exoflop supercomputer might need 100 megawatts of power, which is a significant portion of a power plant..."
"People imagine that somehow these tax codes are established in a way that actually supports innovation in our economy, and it's just not true. The tax code as it exists right now protects a bunch of embedded special interests that were there at a moment in time when they were able to get this tax loophole, or that tax loophole."
-Mr. Sturman Woodland Park Colorado Inventor
"There is no essential culture clash. Look at the Steve Jobs obituaries. Over he course of his life, he combined three asynchronous idea spaces-the counterculture of the 1960s, the culture of early computer geeks and the culture of corporate America. There was LSD, "The Whole Earth Catalogue" and spiritual exploration of India. There were also nerdy hours devoted to trying to build a box to make free phone calls.
The merger of these three idea networks set off a cascade of innovations, producing not only new products and management styles but also a new ideal personality-the corporate honcho in jeans and the long-sleeve black T-shirt. Formerly marginal people came together, competed fiercely and tried to resolve their own uncomfortable relationships with society.
The roots of great innovation are never just in the technology itself. They are always in the wider historical context. They require new ways of seeing. As Einstein put it, "the significant problems We face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were as when we created them."
If you want to be the Next Steve Jobs and end the innovation stagnation, maybe you should start in hip-hop."
David Brooks "Where Are the Jobs?" The New York Times Oct 7, 2011
"Think of what frustrates you-and if you're frustrated by something and you feel 'Dammit, if only people could do this better; then go ry to do it better yourself. It can start off in a really small way....and you'll be surprised: If you're doing it better yourself, in whatever field it is, you'll be filling a gap and you suddenly might start creating a business."
"The best ideas come from people just wanting to create, like (Google co-founder) Larry Page in his garage just wanted to cerate a product that he could play with, and then you go and try to make sure that you can pay the bills at the end of the month."
DIGITAL INNOVATORS VS. THE PATENT TROLLS' by Peter Huber Senor fellow Manhattan Institute
"This is a key insight. World War II and the Cold War incentivized the federal government to force the pace of scientific innovation, nowhere more obviously than in the realm of nuclear technology. But as the totalitarian threat waned and then expired, government turned from research and development to health and safety. Redistribution and regulation took over and, as they did so, the sci-fi dreams of then the 1960s faded into a stagflationary reality. In 1964, when I was born, Popular Science magazine could seriously ask: "Who'll Fly You at 2,000 m.p.h.?" Instead I have lived to see the Concorde decommissioned and coal-carrying railroads reopened.
We aren't moving faster. We haven't freed ourselves from fossil fuels. Life expectancy still rises, but at a slowing rate. Only in Palo Alto-the realm of Moore's law on the recurrent doubling of computer processing power-has progress persisted. The rest of us have had to rely on leverage, aided and abetted with financial technology, to maintain the illusion of rising real incomes.
As for globalization, it just took established Western ways of making stuff and spread them to the East and South. Worse, when leverage combined with globalization to produce a massive financial crash, we fell back on Keynesian deficits plus money printing in the mis-taken belief that they had saved us before. They hadn't. It was technological innovation, accelerated by government, that produced the economic miracles of the d1940s, '50s, and '60s.
To listen to Thiel is to hear an alternative economic history of the past hundred years. it is also to hear a rather bleak prophecy about the next hundred. he and his friends will continue to innovate, no doubt; but they will focus their energies on the few relatively unregulated sectors. The rest of us will remain mired in a stagnant politicized economy of regulation and redistribution, vainly trying to divert a fraction of the innovators' billions our way.
So now you know: Peter Thiel is smarter than you too. Damn"
"The Pessimistic billionaire: Venture capitalist Peter Thiel has made a fortune as an investor. Why is he so worried about the future? Newsweek Mag
See Book: The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked The Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom" by Simon Winchester
Book: "Boron: A better Energy Carrier Than Hydrogen?" by Graham Cowan
see also: Magnesium
'ALL GREAT IDEAS ARE DANGEROUS1.....Oscar Wilde"
See Article: "Digital Innovators vs. the Patent Trolls" by Peter Huber The Wall Street Journal April 16, 2010
Book: "The papers of Thomas A. Edison: Vol 7: Losses and Loyalties, April 1883-Dec 1884
See article: What's the Frequency, Hedy? World Press Review July,1997 (about Hedy Lamar)
Book: "Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr" by Stephen Michael Sherer
See article: "Lise Meitner and the Discovery of Nuclear Fission" Scientific American ,Jan 1998
Book: "The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT" by Stewart Brand
Book: "Solomon's Knot: How Law Can End the Poverty of Nations" by Robert D. Cooter & hans-Bernd Schafer
Book: "An Engineer's Alphabet: Gleanings From The Softer Side of a Profession" by Henry Petroski
Book: "Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science" by Michael Nielsen
Book: "The Essential Engineer: Why Science Alone will Not solve Our Global Problems."" by Henry Petroski
Book: "New Ideas About New Ideas: Insights On Creativity From the World's Leading Innovators" by Shira P. White with G. Patton Wright
See article about "Edwin Howard Armstrong" New York Times, Dec 16,1990
Book: "The Crest of the Peacock: Non-European Roots of Mathematics: by George Gheverghese Joseph
Book: "The Genius of China, 3,000 Years of Science, Discovery, and Invention" by Robert Temple
Book: "Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science-from the Babylonians to the Maya" by Dick Teresi
See article "Around the Mall and Beyond" article about Jerome Lemelson America most prolific living inventor. The Smithsonian
See article: "The lesser known Edison" SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN Feb 1997
See article: "Working Knowledge" about Stephanie Kwolek Scientific American Mar 1997
See Book: "Mothers of Invention "
Book: "Laser: The Inventor, The Nobel Laureate, and the Thirty-year Patent War" by Nick Taylor
Book: "Innovation and Its Discontents: How Our Broken Patent System is Endangering Innovation and Progress, and What To Do About It" by Josh Lerner and Adam B. Jaffe
Book: "1000 inventions and Discoveries" by Roger Bridgman
Book: "The Telephone Gambit: Chasing Alexander Graham Bell's Secret" by Seth Shulman
Book: Century Makers: One Hundred Clever Things We take for Granted Which have Changed our Lives Over the Last One Hundred Years" by David Hillman and David Gibbs
Book: "The Essential Engineer: Why Science Alone Will Not Solve Global Problems" by HenryPetroski.
Book: "A History of Inventions, Discoveries, and Origins" by Johann Beckman
National Geographic concise History of Science & Invention : An Illustrated Time Line
Book: "A History of Invention, Revised Edition: From Stone Axes to Silicon Chips " by Trevor I. Williams
Book: "Ideas: A History of thought and Inventions, From Fire to Freud" by Peter Watson
Book: "The Seventy Great Inventions of the Ancient World" Ed. Brian M. Fagan
Book: "The Invention of Air: A story of Science, Faith, Revolution and the birth of America" by Steven Johnson
Book: "The Diffusion of Innovation" by Everett Rogers
Book: "The Third Industrial Revolution" by Jeremy Rifkin
Book: "House of Invention: The Secret Life of Everyday Products" by David Lindsay
Book: "Mirror Mirror" by Mark Pendergrast
Book: "My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla"
Book: "A History of Invention, Revised Edition" by Trevor I. Williams
Book: "World of Invention: 2nd Edition" Kimberly A. McGrath, Editor
Book: "The Scientists: A History of Science Told Through the Lives of the Greatest Inventors" by John Gribbin
Book: "House of Invention: The Secret Life of Everyday Products" by David Lindsay
Book: "Black Firsts" by Jessie Carney Smith
Book: "Black Inventors" by Nathan Aaseng
Book: "Adventures from the Technology Underground" by William Gurstelle
Book: "Start-up nation" by Dan Senor and Saul Singer
Book: "Monturiol's Dream: The Extraordinary Story of the Submarine Inventor Who Wanted to Save the World" by Matthew Stewart
Book: "Women Inventors" by Linda Jacobs Altman
Book: "Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr" by Stephen Michael Shearer
Book:" The Fantastic Inventions of Nikola Tesla
Book: "They Made Our World: Five Centuries of Great Scientists and Inventors" Ed. by John Hamilton
Book: "The Lunar Men: Five Friends Whose Curiosity Changed the World" by Jenny Uglow
Book: "Men who pioneered Inventions" by Lynn & Gray Poole
Book: "Nuts and Bolts of the Past: A History of American Technology, 1776-1860" by David Freeman Hawke
Book: "The Greatest Inventions of the Past 2,000 Years" ed by John Brockman
Book: "The Innovator's Dilemma" by Professor Clayton Christensen
Book: "The History of Science and Technology: A Browser's Guide to the Great Discoveries, Inventions, and the People Who Made them, from the Dawn of time to Today" by Bryan Bunch & A. Hellermans
Book: "Visions of Technology" by Richard Rhodes
Book: "Jacquard's Web: How a Hand Loom Led to the birth of the Information Age" by James Essinger
Book: "Virtual Reality: The Revolutionary Technology of Computer-Generated Artificial Worlds-and How it Promises to Transform Society" by Howard Rheingold
Book: "From AZT to TV Dinners: Stories of Women Inventors and Their Breakthrough Ideas" by Ethlie Ann vare & Greg Ptacek
Book: "The Gecko's Foot: Bio-Inspiration-Engineering New Materials From nature" by Peter Forbes
Book: "Mothers of Invention" by Ethlie Ann Vare & Greg Ptacek
Book: "Ancient Inventions" by Peter James & Nick Thorpe
Book: "The Riddle of the Compass: The Invention that Changed the World" by Amir D. Aczel
Book: "The Genius of China: 3,000 Years of Science, Discovery and Invention" by Robert Temple
Book: "Signor Marconi's Magic Box" by Gavin Weightman
Book: The Hunt For Zero Point: Inside the Classified World of Antigravity Technology" by Nick Cook
Book: "The Patent Files: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Invention" by David Lindsay
Book: "The Scientist, the Madman, the Thief and Their Light bulb" by Keith Tutt
Book: "Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention, from Fire to Freud" by Peter Watson
"Book: "Created Equal: The Lives and Ideas of Black American Innovators" by James Michael Brodie
Book: A History of Invention, Revised Edition" by Trevor I. Williams
Book: "The Last Lone Inventor" by Evan I Schwartz
Book: "Millions from the Mind" by Alan R. Tripp
Book: "Noble Obsession" by Charles Slack
Book: "Jacquard's Web: How a Hand-Loom Led to the Birth of the Information Age' by James Essinger
Book: "The Man Behind The Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley" by Leslie Berin
Book: "Science and Technology Year by Year" by Mark Cook et al
Book: "Patents: Ingenious Inventions: How They Work and How They Came to Be" by Ben Ikenson
Book: "Gendered Innovations in Science and Engineering" by Londa Schiebinger
Book: "Buckminster Fuller: Starting With the Universe" Ed by R. Michael Hays and Dana Miller
Book: "Prison Inventions" from www.printedmatter.org (ingenuity of prisoners making things out of everything or almost nothing)
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