The Rise and Fall of American Technology

By Lynn G. Gref | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 15. EPILOGUE

“The future is purchased by the present.”—Samuel Johnson

Having come to the end of the book, I hope the reader shares my admiration for America’s technological achievements, appreciation for what they have meant to everyone, respect for those individuals who have played a vital role in their development, and a desire to accomplish something more than passive acceptance of an inevitable decline. The ten most salient points made in the preceding chapters are:
1. There are multiple phases to the technology cycle and that different people working in different facilities perform the various phases of the cycle.
2. It generally takes decades before a successful commercial product or process exploits a theory. In addition, a tremendous winnowing process occurs as things pass from one phase to the next of the technology development cycle.
3. The U.S. economy has been technology driven since before the twentieth century.
4. The rise of technology began with the private laboratories and shops of inventors such as Edison and matured with the establishment of the great corporate laboratories.
5. The Golden Age of technology in America roughly encompassed the period from the end of the First World War to the end of the Cold War and reached its apex in the corporate laboratories, in the Government laboratories, and with a torrent of new or improved products.
6. Every American has benefited with a better standard of living because of America’s technological prowess. Much of America’s most recent productivity gains are the result of the application of information technology.
7. There is no single indicator of a decline in American technology. Weakening Government funding of Phase One research at universities and colleges provides an indication of the start of a decline in Phase One. A decline in Corporate America’s

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