Fortunes are rarely won by playing it safe. On the contrary, the biggest fortunes have been won by those willing to step outside the box and change the way the game is played. Following are twenty-five business innovators
of the past, present, and future whose stories are different in many respects, but all point to the same truth: Ingenuity, improvisation, and daring are more important than following the rules (even though you might find yourself on the wrong side of the law once in a while). Via Fortune. [more inside]
posted by infini
on Aug 2, 2008 -
Thomas A. Edison
did not simply invent; he created the invention industry. He not only inspired the American Industrial Revolution, he provided the model for modern R&D concepts. Perhaps his greatest success beyond his legacy of innovation and invention is the introduction of team-based research. The Edison Innovation Foundation
is using Edison's Invention Factory
to educate the next generation of inventors.
posted by netbros
on Jul 29, 2008 -
Madman or genius? Well... madman. But being confined to an asylum (with one of his symptoms described as "manic invention") didn't keep Karl Hans Janke
from developing elaborate theories of atomic energy
, flight, space travel
and the history of humanity, creating over 4,000 complex drawings and even models over 40 years of incarceration for paranoid schizophrenia. [more inside]
posted by Shepherd
on Jun 2, 2008 -
Dean Kamen's Artificial "Luke" Arm
- Segway inventor reinvents the prosthetic arm: "I've been able to do stuff with this that I haven't, seriously haven't, done in 26 years... uh, pick up a banana, peel a banana and eat it without it squishening... I can't wait to get one of these in a real environment, a home environment, and actually my wife can't either. She's going, oh yeah, I got lots of stuff for you to do."
posted by kliuless
on Feb 19, 2008 -
is producing "innovative new homes of remarkable strength, economy, and beauty, brought to life by an elegant new architecture and the discovery of a new source of pollution-free energy." The design took first prize in the Modern Marvels/Invent Now
). In an interview
, the inventor, Michael Sykes, says "he was inspired by the way the earth’s own atmosphere keeps the planet at a relatively constant comfortable temperature despite the frigidity of space." He also notes that his wife calls herself a "homemaker," natch.
posted by pithy comment
on May 17, 2007 -
Wanna get nuked? the Active Denial System
[just say no?] was launched yesterday - its a microwave ray gun that makes people feel like they're going to catch fire. Wasn't there a ray gun at a certain point in a book we trashed
a while earlier?
posted by infini
on Jan 25, 2007 -
Meet the man who "had more impact on the atmosphere than any other single organism in earth history" - Thomas Midgley, Jr
. Midgley invented leaded gasoline in 1921 to stop cars from knocking
. In the process, he created a huge new industry, increased by 500 times the atmospheric lead levels, and was part of a multi-decade coverup of lead's effects that put the tobacco industry to shame [note: article is both terrific and very long]
and still continues today
. Just a few years later, he invented chlorofluorocarbons, and, with a dramatic demonstration of their safety
, usured in an era of cheap air conditioning and social change
, as well as ozone depletion
. In the end, he was killed by one of his inventions
, though it was neither lead nor CFCs that were responsible. He is sometimes remembered fondly
, he is more often vilified
posted by blahblahblah
on Oct 19, 2006 -
Miracles You’ll See In The Next Fifty Years
Some more up-to-date predictions: science
, space travel
, mental health
, smart machines
, robots, mind uploading
What is your prediction
posted by MetaMonkey
on Oct 5, 2006 -
- an interesting read on artificial life
and evolutionary computation
, from the game of life
), through core wars
and on to genetic programming
. This approach has recently borne fruit to genetic programming pioneer
and inventor of the scratchcard
, John Koza
, who last year patented his invention machine
, actually a 1000 machine beowulf cluster
running his software, which has itself created several inventions
which have been granted patents.
[See also: BBC Biotopia artificial life experiment
, another odd BBC evolution game
, Artificial Life Possibilities: A Star Trek Perspective
posted by MetaMonkey
on May 3, 2006 -
was the 17th century's Jesuit version
of the über
geek. His scholarly attentions were drawn to egyptology, astronomy, magnetism, languages, optics, music, geology, mathematics and many many other pursuits. The "dude of wonders"
invented novel machines such as the mathematical organ
and magnetic clock
, established one of the first museums, published about 40 academic works (with beautiful accompanying illustrations
) and was globally revered as one of his time's greatest intellectuals. He is also the main link in the Voynich manuscript mystery
posted by peacay
on Aug 7, 2005 -
An MIT student has designed an alarm clock with built-in wheels and motion sensors. Upon hitting the snooze button, Clocky will roll of your nighttable, bump around your room, and hide, forcing you to have to get up and look for him instead of hitting the button again.
posted by XQUZYPHYR
on Mar 29, 2005 -
Tired of waiting for that waitress to fill your pitcher? Technology once again rides to the rescue
courtesy of two industrious Cornell students. [warning: lots of nerdy details in link...not safe for technophobes]
posted by rooftop secrets
on Dec 3, 2004 -
Making the Modern World brings you powerful stories about science and invention from the eighteenth century to today. It explains the development and the global spread of modern industrial society and its effects on all our lives. The site expands upon the permanent landmark gallery at the Science Museum, using the Web and dynamic multimedia techniques to go far beyond what a static exhibition can do.
, excellent content
posted by tcp
on Jul 12, 2004 -
Necessity Is the Mother of Invention. (NY Times, reg. req.) Amy Smith
teaches MIT students about the politics of delivering technology to poor nations and the nitty-gritty of mechanical engineering and helped start the IDEAS competition
; she herself designed (among other things) a screenless hammer mill
suited to third-world conditions and using "materials available to a blacksmith in Senegal."
Smith's entire life is like one of her inventions, portable and off the grid. At 41, she has no kids, no car, no retirement plan and no desire for a Ph.D. Her official title: instructor. ''I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing. Why would I spend six years to get a Ph.D. to be in the position I'm in now, but with a title after my name? M.I.T. loves that I'm doing this work. The support is there. So I don't worry.''...
Likewise, the inventors who most inspire her will never strike it rich. ''There are geniuses in Africa, but they're not getting the press,'' she says. She gushes about Mohammed Bah Abba, a Nigerian teacher who came up with the pot-within-a-pot system. With nothing more than a big terra-cotta bowl, a little pot, some sand and water, Abba created a refrigerator -- the rig uses evaporation rather than electricity to keep vegetables cool. Innovations that target the poorest of the poor don't have to be complicated to make a big difference. The best solution is sometimes the most obvious.
A rare optimistic story for these downbeat times.
posted by languagehat
on Dec 3, 2003 -
Chicago Rat Patrol.
No, not this kind of rat patrol
; for this crew, rat spotting
is just a sideline. What these guys skulk in alleys for, though, is discarded bike parts to kludge
, especially in strange and unexpected proportions
. Most of them work. As a result of their experiments, they're attuned to the kitbashed contraptions
used by (mostly) economically marginal folk. Additionally, or superfluously, they're sort of anarchist
anti-corporate critical-mass types. Updated until almost a year ago. Note: Geocities site. Tread lightly. And stay away from the "Rodeo" link, where there's a quicktime video, until tomorrow.
posted by dhartung
on Jul 26, 2002 -