Inventing Modern America: From the Microwave to the Mouse

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Inventing Modern America profiles thirty-five inventors who exemplify the rich technological creativity of the United States over the past century. The range of their contributions is broad. They have helped transform our homes, our healthcare, our work, our environment, and the way we travel and communicate.The inventors profiled include such well-known figures as George Washington Carver,Henry Ford, and Steve Wozniak, as well as unsung technological pioneers such as Stephanie Kwolek, inventor of Kevlar, and Wilson Greatbatch, inventor of the first implantable cardiac pacemaker.Inventing Modern America is designed to create excitement about invention through the personal stories of these American scientists, technologists, and researchers. It is accessible enough to engage high school students yet wide-ranging and interesting enough to appeal to anyone who has ever wondered where microwave ovens and traffic lights come from.The book was developed by the Lemelson-MIT Program for Invention and Innovation, whose mission is to inspire a new generation of American scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A well-written, lavishly illustrated success, and a cheerful one at that..." Roy Herbert New Scientist
Publishers Weekly
Ole Evinrude, designer of the outboard boat motor; Stephanie Kwolek, creator of Kevlar; and Henry Ford, architect of the moving assembly line are just a few of the American inventors profiled in Inventing Modern America: From the Microwave to the Mouse by freelance writer and editor David E. Brown. Along with contributors Lester C. Thurow and James Burke, Brown simplifies technical data and uses an enthusiastic, almost proselytizing tone: "We can all be inventors, just like the ones in this book. They show us the way." These words may restrict the primary audience for this volume to those under legal voting age, but full color photographs, diagrams and intriguing tidbits like how a "tiny mistake led to the invention of the modern pacemaker" make this a good book for most to browse. ( Dec.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A marvelous history of American invention, profiling George Washington Carver (industrial uses of agricultural products) and including six women: Sally Fox (naturally colored cotton), Marie-Claire King (advances in breast cancer), Stephanie Kwolek (Kevlar), and logician Erna Schneider Hoover (the computerized telephone switching system) among them. Men include Raymond Damadian (the MRI scanner), Wilson Greatbatch (implantable cardiac pacemaker), Henry Ford (the assembly line), Douglas Englebart (computer mouse), Buckminster Fuller (geodesic dome), Raymond Kurzweil (an optical reading machine for the blind), Percy Spencer (microwave oven), and Steve Wozniak (personal computer). Thirty-five innovators are profiled. Would you believe Al Gross invented the walkie-talkie in 1937, Garrett Morgan the traffic light in 1923, and Ole Evinrude the outboard boat motor in 1911? Great stuff: inspiring indeed.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262523493
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 221
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

David E. Brown is a New York-based freelance writer and editor.

James Burke is a London-based writer and television producer best known for his series Connections.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 2
Medicine and Healthcare
Raymond Damadian: MRI scanner, magnetic resonance imaging (1977) 6
Thomas Fogarty: balloon embolectomy catheter (1961) 12
Wilson Greatbatch: implantable cardiac pacemaker (1958) 18
Dean Kamen: portable medication technology (1970s) 24
Mary-Claire King: advances in the treatment of breast cancer (1990) 30
Robert Langer: biomedical applications of polymers (1980s) 34
Rosalyn Yalow: RIA, radioimmunoassay (1959) 38
Consumer Products
Leo Baekeland: Bakelite, the first modern plastic (1907) 46
Harold "Doc" Edgerton: stop-action photography (1931) 52
Philo T. Farnsworth: electronic television (1927) 58
Stephanie Kwolek: Kevlar (1964) 62
Jerome Lemelson: apparatus for driving tape in a cartridge (1972) 68
Jacob Rabinow: self-regulating clock (1954) 74
Percy Spencer: microwave oven (1947) 80
Ole Evinrude: outboard boat motor (1907) 86
Henry Ford: assembly line (1913) 90
Robert Goddard: liquid-fueled rocket (1926) 94
Paul MacCready: human-powered airplane (1977) 100
Garrett Morgan: traffic signal (1923) 106
Elmer Ambrose Sperry: gyrocompass (1911) 112
Energy and Environment
George Washington Carver: industrial applications for agricultural products (1910s) 120
Carl Djerassi: nontoxic pest-control products (1960s) 124
Sally Fox: naturally colored cotton (1989) 128
Buckminster Fuller: geodesic dome (1950) 134
Ashok Gadgil: ultraviolet water purifications system (1993) 140
Stanford Ovshinksy: mass production of photovoltaic cells (1983) 144
John Todd: ecosystems for combating pollution (1984) 148
Computing and Telecommunications
Nolan Bushnell: video game (1971) 156
Douglas Engelbart: computer mouse (1968) 162
Al Gross: walkie-talkie (1937) 168
Erna Schneider Hoover: computerized telephone switching system (1965) 172
Grace Murray Hopper: computer compiler (1952) 178
Raymond Kurzweil: optical reading machine for the blind (1976) 182
Carver Mead: very-large-scale integrated circuits (1971) 188
Steve Wozniak: personal computer (1976) 194
Sources and Further Reading 198
Index 201
Acknowledgments 207
Photo Credits 208
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