How Invention Begins: Echoes of Old Voices in the Rise of New Machines

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Oxford University Press, Jul 14, 2006 - Science - 288 pages
In How Invention Begins, Lienhard reconciles the ends of invention with the individual leaps upon which they are built, illuminating the vast web of individual inspirations that lie behind whole technologies. He traces, for instance, the way in which thousands of people applied their combined inventive genius to airplanes, railroad engines, and automobiles. As he does so, it becomes clear that a collective desire, an upwelling of fascination, a spirit of the times--a Zeitgeist--laid its hold upon inventors. The thing they all sought to create was speed itself. Likewise, Lienhard shows that when we trace the astonishingly complex technology of printing books, we come at last to that which we desire from books--the knowledge, the learning, that they provide. Can we speak of speed or education as inventions? To do so, he concludes, is certainly no greater a stretch than it is to call radio or the telephone an "invention." Throughout this marvelous volume, Lienhard illuminates these webs of insight or inspiration by weaving a fabric of anecdote, history, and technical detail--all of which come together to provide a full and satisfying portrait of the true nature of invention.

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User Review  - homeofharris - LibraryThing

This book explains the incremental steps involved in technologies that changed the world. IT really goes to show that no idea comes from some kind of miraculous inception on its own, and that ... Read full review


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About the author (2006)

John H. Lienhard is M.D. Anderson Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering and of History at the University of Houston. He is the author and host of "The Engines of Our Ingenuity," a daily radio essay on invention and creativity heard nationally on Public Radio and internationally on the Armed Forces Network. He is also the author of the book The Engines of Our Ingenuity: An Engineer Looks at Technology and Culture. Books by the same author: Inventing Modern The Engines of Our Ingenuity

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