Since I was a boy, I have been fascinated by stories of human ingenuity. From tales of the first astronomers, craning their necks at the skies from their ziggurats, to the more prosaic history of the humble zipper.
Since then I have studied the history of human creativity in science and technology much more seriously. But given the limited employment opportunities in that field, I have found work instead as an engineer. Such work is rewarding in a material sense, yet it has left something unsatisfied in me.
So I return to the stories. They are stories about people, and stories about things, but, of greatest interest to me, they are stories about ideas. Technologies are as much “creatures of thought” as material things. They are products of human imagination.1
Humans are ceaseless borrowers and copiers. Perhaps, contra Ecclesiastes, there is an occasional new thing under the sun, but certainly humans think no new thoughts ex nihilo.2 And yet we are also ceaseless inventors. We combine existing ideas in new ways or place them in new surroundings, and suddenly the old becomes new, in a wonderful alchemy of the mind.
At least, that is how I feel. To convey the same feeling of wonder to my readers – this what I hope to do in the humble offerings I put before you.
I will begin with the story of the switch, and how this simple machine became the basis of our entire digital world. The search for a means to communicate by electricity created an entirely new industry, that of telecommunications. This industry would, in turn, throw off a number of developments crucial to the history of computing. Including this:
Let’s go and see how it all got started.
- The phrase comes from the great historian of technology Lewis Mumford. See the About page. ↩
- Sometimes it seems to me that there is virtually nothing to be said that wasn’t already better expressed by an ancient Greek somewhere about the Aegean or Adriatic coasts between the 6th and 4th centuries B.C. ↩
9 thoughts on “About This Blog”
This is really great information, the original web was full of people making websites out ot their own compulsions. What a great contribution to the web which is very rare these days.
Thanks, Ben. As someone who grew up on the old school web, that is exactly my intent.
[…] [Previous part] [Next part] […]
Please can you provide an attribution or link to the original transistor picture? I’d love to get a poster size print!
Great blog, have a virtual pint (or 3)
Re: prototype of junction transistor:
I don’t have my copies here, but I believe the pix of the first point junction transistor could be in an article in one of the 1948 -49i issues of the Bell Telephone Record or The Bell System Technical Journal
I would first try;
H. Brattain and J.Bardeen ’Physics Review Vol 74 1948 PP 230-231
H.Brattain and J.Bardeen ’Physics Review Vol 75 1949 PP 11280
W. Shockley, Bell Sys Tech Journal July 1949
I am an electronics freak/geek. Your blog is great. It gives real insight on the motivation and the history behind greatest, world-changing inventions.
I found your blog at https://news.ycombinator.com (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17371343).
After I started, I couldn’t leave it until I finished till the end. After reading it, I knew, I need to subscribe to your blog, so I went through other articles and now I am one of your subscribers!!
P.S.: The link to “About Page” in citation in this article is dead. It points to https://technohistory.wordpress.com/about/ but it should be https://technicshistory.wordpress.com/about/ (I suppose !!)
Thanks for the kind words and for finding the error. Should be fixed now.
hi, great work…but can you provide the topics from 2016 till now in a bar to the side of the main screen? After reading a topic, its difficult to come back and continue…if you have a full content list page, it would be easier to read. Now, one has to keep clicking on older posts till the desired topic is reached, and then confusion on wether it’s the correct one. Otherwise, do continue this awesome writing 🙂
Thanks, added an archive section, hopefully that helps.