Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Treasures of Innovation at the Smithsonian

We had the opportunity last weekend to visit the Smithsonian's current exhibit on innovation and enterprise.  What a treat!   Below are just some of the items on display.

This is the 1837 prototype receiver for Samuel B. Morse's telegraph.  By sending electric pulses, Morse was able to record a message as a wavy line on a strip of paper.  Morse was an excellent artist, so it's no surprise the frame is an artist's canvas stretcher.
Here is John Heinz's 1879 prototype for a vegetable sorter.  Automated sorting was a sign that high-speed production had breached the food business.
Wow.  I remember this.  The 1977 prototype for what would become the Jarvik-7 Total Artificial Heart.  It was first implanted in a human being in 1982.  (Yes, that's velcro holding the chambers together.)  Barney Clark was patient #1 and he survived 112 days.
This one has me a little little baffled.  It's an 1868 prototype for a typewriter, modeled by three Milwaukee inventors.  Six years later, Remington produced the first commercially successful model.  This makes clear it's not about first-mover advantage.  Instead, as Nathan Bedford Forest so famously said, it's about getting there firstest with the mostest.
Here's the digital camera, patented in 1975.  Who was the patentee?  Eastman Kodak, of course.
The following year, 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak patented this, the Apple I computer.
Following the computer in Silicon Valley, of course, came the t-shirt.  This from 1977.
At the top, an Intel C8080 8-bit microprocessor from 1974.  At the bottom, a transistor from Fairchild Semiconductor, 1961.  Some real history here.
This one speaks for itself.
This is an 1851 revolver from the factory of Samuel Colt.  It's the product that dazzled the world at the Crystal Palace world's fair in London.
Here's the telephone that Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.
This Technicolor motion picture camera was used on the set of The Wizard of Oz in 1937.  Now you know how things went from B&W to color.
Recognize this?  It's a videocassette recorder--the beginning of "TV on Demand"--from 1977.
And finally, what says "American innovation" better than a well-stocked Suzy Homemaker refrigerator from 1966?