Sunday, November 18, 2007

Quote for the Day

Here is a short passage from the biography, Edison, by Matthew Josephson which speaks to the relationship between the inventor and the business person:

To make an invention, even to possess the talent to do this, was, however, not enough. Capital and plant and the commercial ability to win acceptance for one’s product from the public were needed. Now, the “business talent” for promoting an invention and bringing it to market, as Jermey Bentham, the philosopher of utilitarianism, had written long ago, seemed to occur in men “in inverse proportion to the talent for creating inventions.” As Bentham defines the problem, your typical “poor inventor” must somehow “penetrate the antechamber of the rich or the noble whom it may be necessary to persuade… Admitted to their presence, how will the necessitous man of genius behave when he has arrived there? Often he will lose his presence of mind, forget, stammer…and retire, indignant that his merits should be misappraised.” Obsessed with his overruling idea, he remains unware of related problems and practical conditions which must be dealt with before his novel product can be brought to general use. Novelty itself is a disadvantage, inasmuch as most men are wont to cling to antique equipment still useful to them, while fearing to “waste” money on some device of uncertain value and future. The inventor, meanwhile, thinks only of what is in his own mind and not of the calculations and anxieties of his prospective patrons. “Thus”, Bentham concluded sagely, “in every career of invention…minds should be attended by an acchoucher,” one who has, primarily, the gift of persuasion, one who “knows the world, half-enthusiast, half-rogue.” On such matters wiser words were never uttered.

[Image of Thomas Edison with his first phonograph, Wikipedia]

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