A tribute to innovation’s past

16 August 2011

DEARBORN, Mich.–We can’t do justice on a road trip about innovation without admiring the innovations of the past.

When we hit Maker Faire Detroit, we were delighted to realize it was located inside and outside of the Henry Ford museum in Dearborn. Ford assembled over the years a huge collection of iconic American technology (and next to the museum lies Greenfield Village, his homage to American communities in times past–really an amazing place if you ever have a chance to visit).

Since just before World War II, innovators have reversed a historic trend in design. That is, for more than 200 years, cultures invented things on a massive scale–factories, machines, railroad systems, dams, trains, airplanes, ships. You name it.

But the past 80 years or so have borne witness to innovation on a microscale, astonishing invention in tiny form factors (in some cases, like software, in ways you can’t even see).

Since we all stand on the shoulders of other generations, it’s good to stop and reflect on what our predecessors achieved centuries ago (and in one example at the end, see technology that’s stood the test of time):




Robert LaJeunesse August 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm

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FYI it’s not Deerfield but rather Greenfield Village. And it’s not just America’s past but some of American Innovation’s past. From New Jersey is Edison’s Laboratory and the boarding house he first illuminated. From Ohio the Wright Brother’s Home and their Bicycle shop. George Washington Carver’ tiny home. Firestone’s farmhouse. The H. J. Heinz building, from before the 57 varieties. A working Jacquard loom. A fabulous early 1900′s carousel. Model T’s and a steam train for transportation. Even an early baseball league. History, alive!


p.s. the Old Car Festival is Sept. 10 & 11, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500. Some great old cars will be parading each day. See http://www.hfmgv.org/events/oldCarFestival.aspx

Brian August 31, 2011 at 12:26 pm

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Bob, thanks for the correction (arg!).

It’s an amazing place, one of the best few hours I’ve spent in the heat this summer!
Thanks for all your help this month!

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