Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Invention vs. Innovation

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Invention vs. Innovation

Article excerpt

While we often recall famous inventions, many lesser-known innovations can be just as significant, if not moreso. Invention and innovation are similar but distinct concepts. Invention refers to the creation of something new, whereas innovation refers to improvements made to something already established.

The development of sound recording technology by Thomas Edison and Emile Berliner offers good examples. In early 1878, Edison received a patent for the phonograph, or "speaking machine," which enabled sounds to be recorded and reproduced mechanically for the first time. But Berliner's innovative gramophone, patented in 1895, arguably was just as important. His flat disc recordings were easier to produce in large numbers and eventually replaced Edison's fragile and cumbersome cylinders as the consumer's medium of choice. Berliner's innovation helped sound recording technology go mainstream.

To study innovations, share with students the featured photographs shown here of Edison and Berliner with the devices they created.

Ask students to determine which device was developed first, encourage them to identify similarities and differences between them, and describe and consider the importance of Berliner's innovations. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.