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Mary Bellis

Inventions are Interdependent

By August 18, 2013

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microphoneThe first microphone was a telephone transmitter invented by Emile Berliner for Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. The invention of radio, spurred the invention of better quality broadcasting microphones.

The computer is another good example of a complex invention that required the energy of many inventors to create. In fact, the computer is actually a collection of many different inventions.

Lee Fleming and Olav Sorenson describe the process in their article The Dangers of Modularity, "Start with a simple premise: Inventions result from the combination of components (either physical things or ideas) in new and useful ways. As a gross simplification, one might think of the automobile as an amalgamation of various preexisting parts, including the steering wheel and gears of a bicycle; the wheels, axles, and general structure of a horse-drawn carriage; and the internal combustion engine. The interdependence of the components has an enormous effect on the pace and complexity of the innovation process."

Illustration Mary Bellis - Microphone used in Alexander Graham Bell's telephone.

September 28, 2007 at 4:34 am
(1) Ciro Pernice says:

Yes, and it is called inventive step, at least at the European Patent Office. Generally most inventions are an improvement on previous inventions (e.g. a new material, a type of mechanism) or sometimes discoveries. Of course the inventive step is not obvious to the man skilled in the art.
Thanks for the interesting and enjoyable articles.


August 23, 2013 at 2:51 am
(2) Gclason says:

How can you talk about the invention of computers and leave out reference to Ada Lovelace?

August 23, 2013 at 3:02 am
(3) Engr Emmydavise says:

Invention is good and is interdependent…..

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