In search of the greatest inventors and technology innovators

In search of the greatest inventors and technology innovatorsIn this section of GeekHistory we put some of the buzzwords into perspective to help you understand and appreciate great inventors and technology innovators.

In the previous article we took a look at a true visionary Jules Verne. Visionaries see what is possible, often before the technology exists to make it real.

The inventors often take visions of others and made them real by proving the concepts in laboratory or by creating the prototype. There are innovators who take a good invention and make it great, transforming the inventions into commercial products

What is the difference between innovation and invention?

There are people like Henry Ford, who spanned multiple categories, who take an invention and develop it into an industry. Let's use Ford as an example to look at the buzzwords.

Henry Ford didn't invent the automobile. German engine designer Karl Friedrich Benz is recognized for the invention of the first automobile. He Benz received a patent for the Benz Patent Motorcar in 1886. His Benz Patent Motorcar powered by an internal combustion engine.

But Benz invented the automobile using the internal combustion engine, which was developed by German engineer Nikolaus August Otto in the 1860s.

Henry Ford didn't invent the assembly line, nor did he invent the concept of an automotive assembly line. Ransom Eli Olds, for whom both the Oldsmobile and REO brands were named, is credited with designing the basic concept of the assembly line. At the Old Motor Works in Detroit he mass produced the Curved Dash Oldsmobile becoming the leading American auto producer from 1901 through 1904. By 1901 Olds had built 11 prototype vehicles, including at least one of each power mode: steam, electricity and gasoline.

No, Henry Ford did not invent "the automobile," but Henry Ford was an inventor of automobiles. Henry Ford designed his first car, the Quadricycle, while he was employed by Thomas Edison.

No, Henry Ford did not invent "the assembly line," but Henry Ford was the first to use a moving assembly line to manufacture cars. Henry Ford perfected the assembly line producing a entire Model T Ford in 93 minutes. Henry Ford created lower cost automobiles, and created an industry.

The 1990s browser wars Microsoft IE versus Netscape Navigator

The Browsers Wars featured Marc Andreessen of Netscape versus Bill Gates of MicrosoftAs we now look at the development of the web browser, it is important to note the distinction between the World Wide Web and the Internet. Simply put, the internet is the highway system, the World Wide Web is the vehicle used on the highway.

The internet is an intelligent highway system. It sets up the rules and methods that traffic uses on the highway system. These rules are called protocols, such as TCP/IP (transmission control protocol/ internet protocol), the main set of rules for the highway.

Once you agree on the highway system, the next step is to standardize on the different things that can travel on the highway. The WWW (World Wide Web) is a vehicle used to travel the highway. HTML (hypertext markup language) is used to build Web Pages (HTML pages) the core of the vehicle. The main purpose of the internet is to have a standard highway system.

A very quick lesson on network technology, you have a relationship with large centrally located computers called servers, and the local desktop computers which are the clients. The server, which as the name applies, is a device which serves something up that is requested. The client is the computer that makes the request for something from the server. You will sometimes hear the phrase client application to describe a piece of software that is installed on your local computer. The client application in the case of the World Wide Web is the web browser.

Tim Berners Lee is credited with developing the technology of web servers, hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP), and developing the document format that is used to build the web pages, hypertext markup language (HTML). When Tim Berners-Lee developed HTML he made the first website, and the first web browser, on a NeXT Cube running the now obsolete NeXTSTEP Operating System.

NCSA Mosaic

Reginald Fessenden Canadian inventor of radio and wireless telephone

Reginald Fessenden father of radioWhen asked who invented radio, many names will get tossed out. Starting my career in communications, a name most often mentioned as the inventor of radio was Marconi.  Searching on the internet a name often mentioned in the invention of radio is Nikola Tesla. Many of the wild claims gave me the drive to dig deeper and to seek the truth. After doing quite a bit of research It was obvious that without a doubt, Reginald Fessenden did more to develop radio that either Marconi or Tesla.

Ironically, the early career of Fessenden sounded similar to Tesla. Reginald Fessenden started his career with Thomas Edison, but later teamed up with George Westinghouse to defeat Edison in the famous "War of Currents. 

Born on October 6, 1866 in East Bolton, Quebec, Canada, Reginald Fessenden was an accomplished student of mathematics While he was only a teenager, Fessenden was teaching mathematics to the young children at his school.

After working for two years as the principal, and sole teacher, at the Whitney Institute in Bermuda, Fessenden moved to New York City with the dream of working for Thomas Edison.

Fessenden works for Edison

Initially Fessenden asked Edison for a job as a junior technician, but Edison was looking for a chemist.  Edison asked Fessenden "Do you know anything about chemistry?" Fessenden honestly answered "But I am not a chemist..." , Edison told Fessenden to learn the job because he needed a good chemist.  Fessenden worked as a chemist developing insulation for electrical wires at Thomas Edison's laboratory, East Orange, New Jersey, from 1887-1890. Fessenden eventually held the title of head chemist for Edison.

In 1890, Edison encountered financial difficulties, and Fessenden was laid off.  Although some sources state that Fessenden was lured away from Edison, most state that Fessenden was laid off from Edison's lab. The biography of Fessenden by his widow confirms that in 1890, "owing to financial difficulties and the reorganization of the Edison Companies, substantially the whole laboratory was shut down."

Crossing paths with George Westinghouse


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