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 inventors 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 todays 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 creationssome 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 otherand 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 MITs Sloan School of Management, describes the essential role invention plays
in the American economy, and how the countrys
future depends on such innovation.
The Lemelson-MIT Programs 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
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 Magazines Millennium series
of issues. Browns 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.
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 BBCs science program, "Tomorrows World."
Burkes 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
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.