Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Turning Innovation into Something is the Bigger Talent

On the list of the top one-hundred inventors of America.....Samuel Morse might just barely break into the group.  Most folks would rate him way down around number two-hundred.....maybe even into three-hundred level.  Some would even say.....he wasn't really an inventor....per say.

All of this brings me to this short history of Samuel Morse.  He's the oldest kid among a family of highly-religious enthusiasts.....tied to the Calvinist Church of America.  Calvinists, for the sake of discussion....are individuals who sit and discuss the Bible at length.....extraordinarily length perhaps....to reach conclusions on why Adam did this, why Eve did that, and how this might all be interrelated.

You can sense that the path of Samuel Morse is going to be a long and difficult one.

He ends up going off and getting fairly educated on theology, mathematics, philosophy, and the science of horses.  If things had gone a certain way.....he'd likely be an outstanding horse doctor and veterinarian.  To support himself through the couple of years at Yale.....he did a lot of painting.  To be humble about it....he had a vast amount of talent.

After the Yale graduation....Samuel was preoccupied with painting.  For almost two decades....that was his one and only profession.  He picked up various commissions.....making a marginal income out of the work, and always finding another project to hook onto.

In 1825, while he was in New York City.....he got an urgent letter detailing his wife being sick.  It would have taken three days to get back.....but the letter merely said an illness had come over her.  He was closing off his business and preparing to leave two days later....when the next letter came.  His wife had passed on.  He never knew the extent of the illness, and the distance for the letters to travel made immediate knowledge impossible.

This episode bothered him greatly.  His painting career continued on to some degree, but he was probably a bit preoccupied.

Seven years would pass, and one day while crossing the Atlantic.....he was in the company of another gentleman and came to discover that this guy had the same fascination with electricity as he did.  It's an odd science in this days and just barely in the beginning stages of understanding it.  What you could grasp was that an electrical current could be passed from one point to another.

No one saw any great purpose beyond that.

So, Morse sat there and reasoned enough to say that you could 'talk' via some electrical current.  No one had sat around and realized the idea or how you'd make it work.  Morse simply developed a code.....tested it.....and did some demonstrations proving that you could talk to someone not just across the room, but across town, and across an entire country.

In roughly twenty years....Samuel Morse had taken a simple twist to an already existing piece of science, and brought communication into a bold new era.  In essence....all he did was invent a simple code.  This....brought to you....by a painter, not an inventor or scientist.....but a painter.

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