My TV viewing habits have shifted over the last year from mainly network TV (There were 5 of us left in the country) to Internet streaming from Netflix. Never could justify out here paying $100+/month to get “cable” TV. Seems that you get 100 channels you don’t want to get 3-5 that you do want.
Anyway on Netflix is an 8 part series entitled “American Genius” – about industry movers and shakers who really affected society. The first episode dealt with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, while the 2nd episode highlighted 2 aviation pioneers, the Wright Brothers and Glenn Curtis. That episode was a bit of a surprise for me, having put the Wright Brothers into the near Deity platform for, you know, inventing the airplane.
I then learned that it was another bicycle shop owner, Glenn Curtis, who really did a lot of the early perfection. His motors were far superior to the Wrights, and he invented ailerons, just for starters. You’d think the Wrights would have been happy to have help but they were too busy trying to sue Curtis for infringing on their patent, which was, the airplane. If finally took the US government and the dawn of the first World War to order to Wrights to share their invention and get 1% royalty from other makers.
It was only then that aviation progress really took off.
Just finished the 3rd episode with the true TV pioneer, a young farm boy named Philo Farnsworth. He invents the television, then spends much of his time and money trying to keep David Sarnoff of RCA from using his technology. While Philo won the suits, RCA eventually prevailed when WW2 came and his patents expired after WW2.
It’s an interesting series, with other subjects being Hearst vs Pulitzer, Colt vs Wesson, Edison vs Tesla, and Oppenheimer vs Heisenberg.
Speaking of which talking about innovation, I have been meaning to talk about my visit to the computer history museum in Mountain View, CA. It is a fascinating place, with displays of early computers all the way back to the 1900’s. I took about 200 pictures with my iPhone and since we are running out of allowed space, have to be careful. I’ll look into how much space we still have available. Even if you think the subject is boring you would find this interesting I believe…