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Doug Engelbart
Thomas Fogarty
Ashok Gadgil
Stephanie Kwolek
Paul MacCready

Inventing Modern America: From the Microwave to the Mouse
From the Introduction by Lester C. Thurow:
"Innovation has brought us...from a culture of scarcity to one of abundance, in which we may have the technology to release the awesome potential of more than six billion imaginative brains around the planet."

Inventing Modern America includes the stories of:

Douglas Engelbart, computer visionary and inventor of the mouse
Garrett Morgan, creator of the traffic signal and the gas mask
John Todd, who builds natural ecosystems that combat pollution
And 32 other inventors—See the complete Contents

Inventing Modern America:
From the Microwave to the Mouse

By David E. Brown, with an Introduction by James Burke and a Foreword by Lester C. Thurow

Published by The MIT Press
A Publication of the Lemelson-MIT Program


Inventing Modern America: From the Microwave to the Mouse celebrates the best of American ingenuity and inventiveness. Through in-depth profiles of 35 inventors, Inventing Modern America tells the often-surprising stories of how the objects and technologies we see and use every day were created. Each profile describes in detail the events, personalities, and opportunities that shaped an inventor’s curiosity and intellectual growth. Highlighted are the inventors’ creative processes, their struggles and successes, and how their inventions affected our world.

Inventing Modern America covers five areas of invention: Medicine and Health Care, Consumer Products, Transportation, Energy and Environment, and Computing and Telecommunications. Each of these categories contain inventions that already greatly impact our lives, or will do so in the future. Included among the 35 inventors are Al Gross, whose inventions laid the groundwork for wireless communications; Leo Baekeland, who ushered in the age of plastics with Bakelite; Robert Goddard, the father of American rocketry; and Erna Schneider Hoover, who helped create the electronic backbone of today’s telephone system.

Inventing Modern America is richly illustrated with historical photographs, diagrams, and patent drawings that illuminate the inventors’ lives, their inventive processes, and their creations—some well-known, others more obscure. James Burke, the creator of the TV series Connections and Connections 2 and author of the best-selling Pinball Effect and other popular science books, introduces each of these sections, linking the American inventors and their work to each other—and to fellow innovators around the world. A foreword by Lester C. Thurow, economist, author and the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Professor of Management and Economics at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, describes the essential role invention plays in the American economy, and how the country’s future depends on such innovation.

The Lemelson-MIT Program’s mission is to inspire and encourage a new generation of American scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs by celebrating role models in these fields. Through Inventing Modern America, the Lemelson-MIT Program hopes to foster a new generation of innovators through these stories of creativity and heroism.

The Contributors

David E. Brown

David E. Brown is a writer and editor who concentrates on the fields of design, architecture, and science, and especially their intersections. He was an editor at Metropolis magazine covering design, urbanism, and architecture, and served as a photo editor and researcher for the New York Times Magazine’s Millennium series of issues. Brown’s work has appeared in I.D., Architectural Record, Feed, and Condé Nast Traveller. He is currently working on a book on explorers’ first glimpses of their discoveries. Brown lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

James Burke
When James Burke received an M.A. in English from Oxford University, little did he know that his career path would lead him inexorably in the direction of television - and science. Born in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Burke graduated from Oxford University and then taught for five years in Italy. In 1966 he returned to England to join the BBC’s science program, "Tomorrow’s World." Burke’s 1979 10-part TV series Connections was seen by millions of people, as well as the follow-up series The Day the Universe Changed and Connections 2. His books include Connections, The Pinball Effect, and The Knowledge Web. He is currently preparing an online version of the Knowledge Web.
Burke's site

Lester C. Thurow
Lester C. Thurow is the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Professor of Management and Economics and Dean Emeritus of MIT's Sloan School of Management. Thurow is recognized throughout the world as a leading expert on economic issues. Since the publication of The Zero-Sum Society, he has been an important shaping voice in the creation of political platforms and national economic policy in the United States. He has been a contributing editor to Newsweek and a member of the editorial board of The New York Times.
Thurow's site

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Doug Engelbart Thomas Fogarty Ashok Gadgil Stephanie Kwolek Paul MacCready
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