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A century ago, it must have been quite exciting to invent something that was truly useful and could be built in a garage. But it’s always been tough, requiring years of perseverance. Edison figured out how to make a real light bulb and the phonograph; the Wright Brothers knew how to get an airplane off the ground. Tesla knew how to generate AC electricity. It’s not that invention is dead-far from it. It’s just that it’s become far more “nichey” for individuals, who concentrate on making a better appliance or cleaning aid or fishing lure. In business, it more likely involves making something that already works, work better. Better insulation, better fuel economy, better mud additive, better wireline add-on.
I’m not belittling modern-day inventors, but the really big inventions that changed civilization profoundly seem to occur less often. Perhaps this is because the problems to solve are really tough, especially in the energy arena.
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