[EAS] Innovators

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Thu Nov 4 14:50:59 EST 2004

Subject:   Innovators

(from NewsScan Daily, 4 November 2004)

     On Monday evening, PBS will begin a four-part television series
profiling the innovators written about in "They Made America" -- a
new book by Sir Harold Evans. Sir Harold says his main criterion for
deciding to select an innovation for his survey was whether it had
changed people's lives: "That's why I included the bra" -- an
innovation of the 1920s developed by Ida Rosenthal. Other innovators
profiled in the book and TV series include: Edwin Armstrong, a radio
pioneer; Lewis Tappan, inventor of credit ratings; Georges Doriot,
the father of venture capital; Raymond Ingram Smith, the first to
recognize gambling as an entirely new market; Samuel Insull, the
onetime Edison assistant who turned electricity into a mass-market
product; and many others. (USA Today 3 Nov 2004)

     "In journalism it is simpler to sound off than it is to find
out. It is more elegant to pontificate than it is to sweat." (Harold

     Englishman Sir Harold Evans, author of the new book, "They Made
America," explains the role America's tradition of innovation plays
in making the world a better place:
     "Here is a curious fact of American culture, supposedly so
obsessed with business. The Founding Fathers promised life, liberty
and the pursuit of happiness, and there have been thousands of
presidential biographies and histories tracing the political
struggles to honor those ideals. But none of the promises could have
been honored without the business innovators who have had nothing
like the same attention. You cannot much pursue happiness if you are
starving, or unable to move your family to a better place, or
protect it along the way, or communicate.
     "Politicians could make promises, but while government could
provide the framework of freedom it could not aspire to deliver
these necessities. We owe them to men like Cyrus McCormick (the
reaper), Robert Fulton (steamboat), Theodore Judah (transcontinental
railway), Lewis Tappan (credit rating), Sam Colt (six-gun), and
Samuel Morse (telegraph). McCormick's invention, and then his
revolutionary buy-on-credit marketing, enabled thousands of farmers
to harvest the Great Plains and feed the world. He also freed labor
for the industrial revolution and the preservation of the Union. And
so has our progress continued down to this day with the founding of
the biotech industry by Herbert Boyer and Robert Swanson, and the
software industry made possible by the operating system for PCs from
the unsung Gary Kildall.
     "Innovation will continue in America. It is in the nation's
DNA. But if the scope of it is not to ebb in the face of global
competition -- in large part the consequence of Malcom Maclean's
innovation of container shipping -- we must honor more the
risk-takers who really get things done."

[To find a library copy of "The American Century" by Harold Evans
visit RLG's RedLightGreen.com:
ION=EDITION&WORKID=12253808&> -- or to purchase a copy go to:
Note: We donate all revenue from our book recommendations to adult
literacy programs.]

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