inventors

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.

Automotive innovator Henry Ford changed everything

Even if geeks Henry Ford and lifelong friend Thomas Edison invented nothing their innovations changed everythingThe legacy of Henry Ford and his mark on the world of technology in the modern industrial era is significant. There are numerous debates in the realms of geek history as to what credit should be given to Henry Ford and Thomas Edison for various inventions.

People point out that Edison did not invent the light bulb, he was simply a business man. Edison realized that experimentation and research takes money. Edison's first invention was the Universal Stock Ticker in 1869. Edison used the money he earned from the stock ticker to start his "invention factory." Edison paid workers to conduct numerous tedious experiments so he did not have to do the boring manual tasks himself. I think that is pretty genius.

Remarks are made that Henry Ford was not an inventor, he was an industrialist that sold automobiles. While it is true that Henry Ford did not invent the automobile or the assembly line, he perfected the assembly line to create lower cost automobiles, and create an industry.

During the modern industrial era from the mid 19th century to the early 20th the world was changing rapidly thanks in part to geeks like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Even if Henry Ford and Thomas Edison invented nothing their contributions to science and technology changed everything.

Henry Ford automotive designer

The son of a Michigan farmer, Henry Ford was a childhood geek who loved tinkering with machinery. When Henry turned 16 years old his father William arranged for Henry to stay with an aunt in Detroit. Henry hoped to find work where he could learn more about machinery. For more than a decade Henry Ford worked in various shops perfecting his skills as a machinist. Henry began working at the Edison Illumination Company as a steam engineer in 1891. After his promotion to Chief Engineer in 1893, Ford had enough time and money to devote attention to his personal experiments on gasoline engines.

You don't need to be a genius to know why Thomas Edison was popular

Edison Disc PhonographThere are many theories as to why Thomas Edison was more popular that other inventors of his generation. There is an overwhelming abundance of conspiracy theories on the internet claiming that Edison cheated his contemporary inventor Nikola Tesla out of fame and fortune. Some of the wild stories would have you believe that Edison was the devil. As far as any conspiracy of why Edison is more popular than Tesla, it doesn't take a genius to figure it out.

Nikola Tesla was fascinated with AC power (alternating current), he is most famous for working with George Westinghouse in the development of AC power distribution. For much of his life Tesla worked alone in laboratories on experiments with alternating current. Edison was popular in the media of his day, and he introduced the world to devices that played music and movies.

Thomas Edison rock star

Thomas Edison was an entertainer who promoted cool toys that entertained the world. In a world long before the internet and television existed, Edison brought us music and movies. At a time when the world was changing rapidly as the industrial age was introducing new technology to everyday life Edison created the image of the mythical inventor. Edison wasn't working in some cold boring laboratory, he used his image as the great American folk hero to tell people he was creating an invention factory.

One of the first things created in his invention factory that would make Edison the rock star of the late 19th century would be the phonograph. The first invention of the phonograph was in 1877 while Edison was hoping to create a machine that would transcribe telegraphic messages through indentations on paper tape, which could later be sent over the telegraph repeatedly. Edison made a name for himself as the inventor of the phonograph giving demonstrations of his famous talking machine to the president and the US Congress. Becoming a legendary larger than life folk hero of the 19th century, Edison was dubbed the Wizard of Menlo Park.

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