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kottke.org posts about invention

James Dyson on invention and failure

posted by Aaron Cohen   Jun 18, 2012

British industrialist and billionaire James Dyson has a pretty healthy outlook on failure.

You once described the inventor’s life as “one of failure.” How so?
I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right. There were 5,126 failures. But I learned from each one. That’s how I came up with a solution. So I don’t mind failure. I’ve always thought that schoolchildren should be marked by the number of failures they’ve had. The child who tries strange things and experiences lots of failures to get there is probably more creative.

Not all failures lead to solutions, though. How do you fail constructively?
We’re taught to do things the right way. But if you want to discover something that other people haven’t, you need to do things the wrong way. Initiate a failure by doing something that’s very silly, unthinkable, naughty, dangerous. Watching why that fails can take you on a completely different path. It’s exciting, actually. To me, solving problems is a bit like a drug. You’re on it, and you can’t get off. I spent seven years on our washing machine [which has two drums, instead of one].

See also: Dyson Airblade

We Work Remotely

“If you could cause one invention from

posted by Jason Kottke   May 17, 2006

If you could cause one invention from the last hundred years never to have been made at all, which would it be, and why?” Nuclear weapons? Land mines? Internal combustion engine?

Kenneth LeVay has invented a new type

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 20, 2005

Kenneth LeVay has invented a new type of screw (designed using computer modeling) which works even in concrete or plastic.

Story of how Kodak developed the first

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 12, 2005

Story of how Kodak developed the first digital camera in 1975 and then sat on the technology for years and years until they finally entered the market and, luckily for them, were able to grab the top stop from Sony and Canon.