Many inventions have
taken several centuries to develop into their modern forms and are
rarely the product of a single inventor's efforts. A light bulb flashing
over the head of a lone scientist is the universal symbol of invention,
but Edison's electric light bulb, which was the product of a whole team
of engineers working with ideas cribbed from other inventors, is the
rule rather than the exception. Every breakthrough is a collective effort that
combines and tweaks already existing ideas and technology in novel ways.
illustrates a very important truth, inventions are seldom the work of any
one mind. Every great invention is really either an aggregation of minor
inventions, or the final step of a progression. It is not a creation,
but a growth, the same invention is frequently brought out in several
countries, and by several individuals, simultaneously.
Frequently an important invention is
made before the world is ready to receive it, and the unhappy inventor
is taught, by his failure, that it is as unfortunate to be in advance of
his age as to be behind it. Inventions only become successful when they
are not only needed, but when mankind is so far advanced in intelligence
as to appreciate and to express the necessity for them, and to at once
make use of them.
Each invention may be just one small step on the road to
the ultimate goal.