Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Caste and patents revenge

As always something new, Mr.Harish Damodaran writes:

  • These men were the forerunners to a succession of American inventor-businessmen in diverse fields: Matthias Baldwin (improved coal-fired steam locomotive); Samuel Colt (revolver); Elisha Otis (elevator); Isaac Singer (sewing machine); George Babcock (water-tube boiler); Alexander Bell (telephone); Thomas Edison (1,093 patents!); George Westinghouse (alternating current power systems); George Eastman (roll film); Charles Hall (aluminium-making process); Emile Berliner (gramophone); Henry Timken (tapered roller bearings); Benjamin Holt (crawler tractor); Herbert Dow (brine chemicals extraction); King Gillette (disposable razor); Henry Ford (automobile); Harvey Firestone (pneumatic auto tyres); Leo Baekeland (bakelite); Glenn Curtiss (aircraft design); Willis Carrier (air-conditioning); Arnold Beckman (pH meter inventor and funder of William Shockley's silicon transistor firm that gave birth to Silicon Valley); Bill Lear (car radio/Lear Jet); Walt Disney (multiplane camera); Edwin Land (Polaroid camera); and Malcolm McLean (shipping container).

  • To the above, one may add the more recent Silicon Valley ‘garage' innovators: Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard (HP); Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore (Intel); Bill Gates and Paul Allen (Microsoft); Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (Apple); John Warnock and Charles Geschke (Adobe); Leonard Bosack and Sandra Lerner (Cisco); Jerry Yang and David Filo (Yahoo!); Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google); Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim (YouTube); and Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin and Chris Hughes (Facebook).
More interestingly:

  • This kind of capitalism is quite different from the one in India, where businessmen have arisen more from the bazaar than the fields, labs or the shopfloor. Examples of inventor-businessmen and industrialists with original engineering bent are few, barring a G.D. Naidu, Laxmanrao Kirloskar or the Seshasayees. Naidu designed and developed his own ‘Rasant' electric razor-cum-blade, valve radios, fruit-juice extractor and even the first indigenous electric motor in 1937. One can further point to the ingenious machine tools, bearings and diesel engine makers of Rajkot or Ludhiana's Ramgarhia Sikh cycle parts and textile machinery fabricators. However, these entrepreneurs, for all their replication and reverse engineering talents, have failed to outgrow their smallness.

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