The Rise and Fall of American Technology

By Lynn G. Gref | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7. INVENTIONS OF THE RISE

“If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders
of giants.”—Sir Isaac Newton

We explored how technology development evolved from the single inventor with a number of assistants into the corporate laboratory staffed by university-trained scientists and engineers in the previous chapter. In the process, some insights were provided on how a few products came to be during this period in which America rose to economic and technological dominance. This chapter provides a discussion of some additional inventions that occurred during this period, to illustrate how they came to be and to provide the backdrop for America’s Golden Age in technology development. It goes without mention that inventors in other countries made significant contributions. After all, Europe was the preeminent science and technology center prior to America’s rise. Before that, Asia and the Middle East were leaders in innovation. However, what emerged was a development cycle that was purely American and overwhelmed the rest of the world in the diversity and superiority of its products in the marketplace.


1879—Electric Light Bulb

See Chapter 6.


1886—Dishwasher

It took a woman to invent a practical dishwasher. Unhappy that her servants were chipping her fine china, Josephine Cochrane invented the first practical dishwasher in 1886. Now Josephine was not the first inventor in her family for she was the granddaughter of John Fitch, the inventor of the steamboat. Nor was she the first to patent a dishwasher. Joel Houghton was the first to patent a device for washing dishes in 1850. Joel’s device did little more than splash some water on the dishes.

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