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Necessity is the Mother of Invention
Not all inventors are scientists or engineers
I love a good invention!
We are surrounded by items that once did not exist. We may marvel at our smartphones, cars, aircraft and many amazing technological devices. But what about the simple things, a fork, a pot, a piece of cloth made into a garment you are wearing now? Maybe the world of science amazes you, and we are in awe of scientific discoveries. Most of the inventions we take for granted were designed and built not by scientists or even qualified engineers but by someone who saw a need and got on with it.
Necessity is the mother of invention
Yes, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. People going about their everyday lives will see a need for something that can make a task easier, and then often at great expense to themself, will make the item, test and refine it until it works as required. I started thinking about this after reading Annette Laing’s Non-Boring History article about the Wright brothers and their obsession with making a machine fly. It was trial and error, as so many things have been. They were not aircraft engineers; no one was. The plane hadn’t been invented! True, others were trying, and some had glided short distances.
The secret of a good inventor is they look at what works and what does not, either the inventor's experiments or those of others. Next is to adapt each little thing and keep testing. This is what the Wright brothers did. There will usually be more failures than successes. Tenacity is key. Inventors don’t know when to give up. Some, sadly, invent things few want and end up losing money that they will never recover even if they successfully patent a product.
Look out for future articles (please subscribe) where you will see the results of the endeavours of those who worked hard to invent things. You may have already read about Fox Talbot in my article describing The Photographic Museum at Lacock. Here too, was a man determined to succeed and paved the way for others to improve on his achievements.
Another person I have written about was born in my home town, Trowbridge. Isaac Pitman developed a version of shorthand which revolutionised the ability to take notes quickly. As in the case of Fox Talbot, he was not the only one working on his idea. However, he worked hard and produced the best system that took off and became the number-one shorthand method for many years.
Do you have a favourite invention or inventor? Leave a comment below and let me know. I might be able to find out more, and visit a few places to write about them. Don’t forget to download the Substack app. You can read my posts in the app and also benefit from its chat feature.
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