Pondering who invented the wheel and other geek history mythology

Geek History Enthusiast

I use the phrase “Geek History Enthusiast” on many of my online profiles to draw attention to his lifelong love of history and technology. My online activies sometimes leads to various non-qualified self proclaimed experts engaging in “stump the dummy.” They offer to debate questions of “who invented it” or “who discovered it” when it comes to various topics of technology.

Why are we so hung up on who invented it?

The experts debate over the answer to “who invented it” or “who discovered it” so our history books can teach us who did it first. That one mythical eureaka moment when a single event changes everything becomes the accolade for scholars to create awards and write books.

Why does that one eureka moment become the focus of all our attention?

My thought has always been that “we” spend too much time on arguing “who invented it” or “who discovered it” and spend too little time on understanding the evolution of ideas that first lead to these inventions and discoveries. And more importantly, understanding how have we progressed since the initial invention or discovery.

In my world, the individual events are all part of larger journey. You will notice in my writing I often stress the evolution of an idea over a single event in time. Perhaps part of the issue is our culture has always been more about learning quick and easy facts, and not so much learning about the big picture of how all this trivia fits together and tells a story.

Pondering who invented the wheel

A recent question directed to me asked why don't we know exacltly who invented the wheel. Spending hours to research the exact moment in history when the wheel was invented does not fascinate me. However I am very fascinated by the evolution of transportation.

I am so fascinated by inventions like the wheel and its evolution over time that I have visited more than a dozen automotive museums and a handful of scenic railroads over the last few years. If all goes well my next road trip will include more automotive museums, a few railroad museums, and I hope to explore the history of the pony express.

I am so fascinated by inventions like the wheel that I have my personal research broken down into generations of transportation history. For example, phase one, the early days of using horse drawn vehicles from chariots to stage coaches. Phase two, replacing horsepower with machinery, as in the Iron Horse, the steam locomotive. Which leads to my phase three, learning about the evolution of the modern automotive industry.

Mark Twain nails the answer

The question is generic version of so many “who invented it” questions I get on Quora. If nothing else, being asked to answer this question gives me one more opportunity to roll out the following quote by Mark Twain that really nails it when it comes to inventions and inventors. *“It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph, or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a photograph, or a telephone or any other important thing—and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others. He added his little mite — that is all he did. These object lessons should teach us that ninety-nine parts of all things that proceed from the intellect are plagiarisms, pure and simple; and the lesson ought to make us modest. But nothing can do that.” — Mark Twain *

Original Question: https://www.quora.com/Why-are-those-responsible-for-perfecting-so-called-new-inventions-like-the-wheel-lost-in-the-mists-and-shadows-of-time-while-individuals-and-history-chooses-gives-and-takes-who-it-wants-to-acknowledge-and-give/answer/Tom-Peracchio

Image: Photograph taken by Tom Peracchio at Henry Ford Greenfield Village Dearborn Michigan - Roadtrip 2016

#auto #automotive #geek #history

Henry Ford Greenfield Village Dearborn Roadtrip 2016

  • wheel.txt
  • Last modified: 2020/04/27 16:01
  • by theguru