Lienhard 13

speed of innovation
In the modern era technological change sped up
why? change in who is inventing, where they are working, what kind of education and funding they have

Theme of the modern era--throw out tradition and find new more efficient ways to do things
what happens if you apply this to invention?  Throw out tradition about who develops new technologies.
shift from independent inventors (using trial and error) to industrial research labs (using science) as the predominant source of new technology--in the 1920s
Intellectual Property (ownership of an idea):

The Patent System:
Number of Patents granted annually by the U.S. Patent Office (U.S. Patent Activity, 1790-1997 )
1840 1860 1880 1900 1920 1940 1960 1980 2000
458 4,363 12,926 24,656 37,057 42,237 47,169 47,169 157,494 219,614

patent office fire
Patents before 1836 were lost in a fire:

recreated drawing for 1830 patent for mechanical fan
patent drawing

The boom in invention:  Example: Charles Goodyear and the Invention of Vulcanized Rubber
 Charles Goodyear experimenting
(source was a Discovery Online article that is no longer available )

The boom in invention lead to ideas about how manage invention more effectively:

Competition by innovation:
make your company successful by continuous development and patenting of new products

Example: Eastman Kodak  (History of KodakKodak #1

  Kodak #1

What is the pattern in this boom in invention?

  1. enthusiasm for invention
  2. businesses come to see invention as a key strategy for competition
  3. invention is becoming more based on science
  4. science education becomes more available and more practical

Three things change:

  1. Science becomes more useful
  2. science education becomes more widespread
  3. businesses figure out how to organize invention using science

In the late 19th century technology became more based in science (because science has progressed and is more useful)--this also speeds up progress

Engineering and science education was a new thing--early 19th century universities taught mostly Latin and Greek literature, a little science and mathematics.
There were a handful of engineering schools before the civil war but only 5% of practicing engineers had an engineering degree in 1871.

Morrill Act became law in 1862 (full version), in the absence of opposition from the southern states (first proposed 1857, attacked on grounds of states rights and competition, passed in 1859 but vetoed on constitutional grounds).

 Fort Hill

Private engineering schools were also founded in significant numbers in the same period: Also newly created: universities--granting the Ph.D. degree (the first one, Johns Hopkins, was founded in 1876)

Applied science:

By the time television was invented, organized industrial research based on science was replacing the lone inventor.
  Zworykin demonstrates electronic TV in 1930

 early tv
But they still needed FCC approval for commercial broadcasting (experimental noncommercial broadcasts were allowed).

 WNBQ Chicago, 1948
what has changed that has speeded up invention?

Other examples:

Current patent/copyright issues:

This page written and copyright Pamela E. Mack
HIST 1220
last updated 10/18/19