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.

Nikola Tesla the legacy of the most interesting geek in the world

Nikola Tesla the most interesting geek in the worldWithout a doubt Nikola Tesla was one of the most interesting geeks that ever lived. The passion for Tesla by his fans and the stories about Tesla's scientific accomplishments has elevated Tesla to the status of mythological geek folk hero.

When the names of Edison and Tesla come together it appears that some people look at their relationship as a life long battle. Their great feud over the use of AC (alternating current) versus DC (direct current) known as the War of Currents lasted only about a decade. Tesla's career went on for many more years beyond his battles with Edison and the War of Currents.

Tesla's Early Days

At times the life story of Nikola Tesla flows like an epic science fiction saga. According to legend, the man known as the Master of Lightning was born at the stroke of midnight on July 10, 1856, during a lightning storm in a mountainous area of the Balkan Peninsula. The area of the Austro-Hungarian Empire where Tesla grew up is the modern-day country of Croatia. Tesla's parents were Serbian, his father was an orthodox priest, his mother was an inventor of practical household gadgets.

The stories of Nikola Tesla growing up tell of a young man constantly craving knowledge. He had a powerful imagination and a photographic memory. Tesla was always the geek growing up, he learned to speak 8 languages and was known to recite books from memory. According to popular stories Nikola Tesla's dream to go to America one day also started when he was young. Upon seeing an engraving of Niagara Falls, Tesla told his uncle he would someday capture the energy of Niagara to produce electricity.

There is even a good story to explain how Tesla would go to college. Tesla's father expected young Nikola to follow in his foot steps and become a priest. Nikola was passionate about mathematics and science. At the age of 17 Nikola Tesla had a brush with death from Cholera. While on his death-bed from Cholera, Nikola was promised by his father he could go to college to study science if he survived. Nikola made an amazing recovery. He went on to study electrical engineering at the renowned Austrian Polytechnic School at Graz.

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