Innovation Histories

The history of innovations and what lessons we can learn

How the 1918-20 ‘Spanish Flu’ changed public health

How the 1918-20 ‘Spanish Flu’ changed public health

The Spanish Flu claimed 50 - 100 million lives, roughly 2.5-5% of the global population over 3 years 1918 -1920.  By comparison WWII claimed (est.) 60 million lives over 6 years.  Devastating. In an article published in the Smithsonian Magazine in September 2017,...

How ice met refrigeration

How ice met refrigeration

Henry Tudor''s commercialisation of block ice from frozen rivers did much to transform Chicago. Chicago's initial growth was enabled by the network of canal and railways that connected it and the fertile Great Plains of the mid-west to the Gulf of Mexico and the...

The business of ice

The business of ice

Vast fortunes can always be made by transporting a commodity ubiquitous in one area to where it is scarce. Scarcity and need are two components of values. Ice was one commodity. In Boston in 1804, many wealthy families cut large blocks of frozen lake water in...

Edison and the light bulb

Edison and the light bulb

The invention of the electric light bulb is indelibly linked with Thomas Edison and the idea of the lone “genius” inspiration theory of innovation.  After a tour to the American West in 1878, a region not blessed with gaslight, Edison drew several diagrams in his...

Neuchâtel: watches to tech leader

Neuchâtel: watches to tech leader

Swiss watchmaking In 1900 more than 50% of all watches distributed around the world were produced in the Jura mountains near Neuchâtel in Switzerland. Watchmaking was a professional industry supported by the School of Watchmaking in La Chaux-de-Fonds (1865), a...