The 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago was a showcase for the latest achievements of American society. A record number of inventions by women were included throughout the fair and in a separate Woman’s Building— designed by architect Sophia Hayden, the first woman graduate in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Still, prevailing attitudes about women’s traditional roles in the home permeated the fair. Most of the invention prizes awarded to women were for domestic technologies, and the press described Hayden’s building as “lyric,” “feminine,” and “delicate.” WOMAN’S BUILDING, 1893 WORLD’S FAIR is a featured story of the Lemelson Centers’s Inventive Minds: Women Inventors gallery, on view now @amhistorymuseum. #internationalwomensday #becauseofherstory #whatwillyouinvent #inventiveminds
“If I don’t fail, I’m not trying hard enough.” - James West, speaking alongside his daughter, Ellington West tonight at #InnovativeLives, moderated by our Head of Exhibitions and Interpretation, Monica Smith. #WhatWillYouInvent
Tinkering is part of the invention process! When one of our Draper Spark!Lab invention activities experiences a failure, we know it’s not the end of the road - it’s an opportunity to tweak the activity and explore solutions. Pictured here under the hood of our Create an Adaptive Vehicle activity is our Interpretive Exhibits Inventor, Tim, and one of our many dedicated volunteers. #sparklab #visitdc #invention #processofinvention #whatwillyouinvent
James E. West (born 1931) earned hundreds of patents during his career at Bell Laboratories, including US Patent 3,118,022 for an “electroacoustic transducer” that revolutionized communications and for which he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1999. West also received the prestigious National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2006. #blackhistorymonth (p.s. He will be speaking at our next Innovative Lives program on March 6! Visit invention.si.edu/about/events in your browser to reserve your free tickets!) #InnovativeLives #WhatWillYouInvent
The electric guitar was essentially born in 1929—long before the advent of rock and roll music. The first commercially advertised electric guitar was offered that year by the Stromberg-Voisinet company of Chicago, though it was not a smash hit. The first commercially successful electric, Rickenbacker’s “Frying Pan” guitar, didn’t kick off rock ’n’ roll yet either, but it did inspire competitors to jump into the electric guitar market. Invented in 1931, the Frying Pan had an electromagnetic pickup made out of a pair of horseshoe magnets placed end-to-end to create an oval around the guitar’s strings, with a coil placed underneath the strings. The pickup, a device that converts the strings’ vibrations into electrical signals that can be amplified, was bulky and unattractive, but it worked. The commercial version of the Frying Pan was a hollow cast-aluminum lap-steel guitar, and wasn’t an immediate hit beyond some Hawaiian, country, and blues musicians. It differs from the traditional Spanish-style guitar in that it is played horizontally, on a stand or in the player’s lap, and has a sliding steel bar that can be moved along the frets for a gliding effect. #SmithsonianMusic #patents #invention
Our Draper Spark!Lab will be closed as usual on Tuesday, but we look forward to welcoming back young inventors to the space on Wednesday, Jan. 30!
We wish you and your loved ones a very happy holiday season. Thank you for supporting the Lemelson Center, we're so excited to bring you new research, programs, festivals, and invention stories in 2019✨
Before there was Call of Duty or Candy Crush, before Mario or Minecraft, there was Spacewar!, the 1962 game that helped launch the multi-billion dollar video games industry. Now, almost sixty-years later, the seven remaining creators of Spacewar! are reuniting for the very first time, for one extraordinary evening, as part of our “Innovative Lives” series. Dan Edwards, Martin (“Shag”) Graetz, Steven Piner, Steve (“Slug”) Russell, Peter Samson, Robert Saunders and Wayne Wiitanen, spry Octogenarians all, are here tonight to discuss how Spacewar! was created in their “spare time” when MIT received its first PDP-1 computer. The group is here to reflect upon the growth of computer games and the transformation of computer technology over the past halfcentury. #WhatWillYouInvent #InnovativeLives #pdp1 #spacewar #videogames #inventor