Creative Destruction: Purell’s Story

Blowing out candles on birthday cakes has been banned in Australian childcare centers. The reason is the germs. Also, kids are required to wash their hands before going in the sandbox. Really. The rule comes from Australia’s Health Minister. In…

Happy Birthday Texting!

Sometimes, you never know… At first, it was just a “Merry Christmas” message sent from a computer terminal to a cell phone. The year was 1992, the firm was Vodafone, and the goal was just a better way for secretaries…

Urban Pollution

When we worry about the impact of autos on the environment, perhaps we should remember the horse. In 1880, the horse population in Manhattan and Brooklyn was somewhere between 150,000-175,000 and growing. A basic part of city life, horsecar rides…

A Path for Driverless Cars

A self-driving car could be a pleasure… The day would begin with a pick-up that you scheduled through your phone app. When your self-driving car arrived at your front door, you would get in, check today’s drive time and start to…

The iPhone 5 Map App

While Apple’s iPhone 5 map app might not always take us where we want to go, it will probably provide a path to some surprising innovation. A little history first… The iPhone 4 was released during June 2010 with a…

What Can You Learn From the Phone Book?

Among all of the innovations that changed our lives, have you ever thought about the phone book? The first phone book dates back to 1878. Compiled by the the District Telephone Company of New Haven, soon to become SNET, the…

When is Research Inaccurate?

Frequently, it is tough to challenge respected researchers. Our story starts with a June 28, 2010 econlife post: In 1910, as a 22 year old Russian immigrant, Dr. Selman A. Waksman arrived in Philadelphia. Through the education he accessed, the…

Learning From the Low End

Sometimes it’s better to be at the bottom than the top. Explaining, Harvard’s Clay Christensen starts his story with the huge integrated steel firms and ends with the mini mill. Relatively cheaply, the mini mills melted scrap in electric furnaces…

Encouraging Innovation

“Steve had this firm belief that the right kind of building can do great things for a culture.” The Steve is Steve Jobs and the building is Pixar’s headquarters. (The quote came from Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs) The usual Hollywood…

A Kodak (Missed) Moment

Thinking of Kodak, we can remember razor blades and Apples. Soon after it began in 1880, Kodak told us, “You press the button and we do the rest.” Making home photography simple, they just had to sell us a camera;…