in USA Today, 02/11/13, enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4.biz
Author Alec Foege has deep respect for Tinkerers. The full title of his latest book makes that clear: The Tinkerers: The Amateurs, DIYers, and Inventors Who Make America Great. The book captures our imagination with stories about people whose tinkering curiosity, genius & persistence drove them to solve problems and create something new. While most of us are clueless about how the devices we use daily actually work, Foege makes the somewhat audacious suggestion that we should just tinker around with them and find out.
Why? A former People magazine Senior Writer, Foege says he was inspired to write Tinkerers and explore what he calls the American “Tinkering Spirit”. “We have this whole wonderful history as a country, of being able to solve problems that other cultures couldn’t, and coming up with inventions that seemed crazy at first, but then changed the world.”
A Fun Read. His book is an entertaining, easy-to-understand, engaging tale of famous inventors such as Thomas Edison, “The Wizard of Menlo Park,” as well as modern-day wizards responsible for some of today’s sophisticated new technology. You can’t help being fascinated by some of the details he uncovers:
• Although Ben Franklin is probably the most famous inventor among the Founding Fathers, he wasn’t the only one. Thomas Jefferson invented the hillside plow, the swivel chair & the macaroni machine. James Madison devised a walking stick with a built-in microscope, and George Washington came up with a number of agricultural innovations (ie, Threshing Barn, Crop Rotation, special Fertilizers, etc).
• Thomas Edison, best known for inventing the electric light bulb, had quite a professional rivalry with Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone. In fact, the original idea behind the phonograph, which Edison invented, was that it could record and reproduce sounds coming from a Bell’s telephone !!!
• Scientists at the world-renowned Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) actually invented the world’s first personal computer. But company officials underestimated its significance, and actually allowed Apple founder Steve Jobs to tour their facility in 1979. Big mistake. Jobs hired away one of their key programmers, and the rest is history.
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