Arthur P. Molella

Arthur P. Molella is Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Director of the Smithsonian Institution's Lemelson Center. He is the co-editor (with Joyce Bedi) of Inventing for the Environment (2003, MIT Press).

  • Invented Edens

    Invented Edens

    Techno-Cities of the Twentieth Century

    Robert H. Kargon and Arthur P. Molella

    Tracing the design of “techno-cities” that blend the technological and the pastoral.

    Industrialization created cities of Dickensian squalor that were crowded, smoky, dirty, and disease-ridden. By the beginning of the twentieth century, urban visionaries were looking for ways to improve both living and working conditions in industrial cities. In Invented Edens, Robert Kargon and Arthur Molella trace the arc of one form of urban design, which they term the techno-city: a planned city developed in conjunction with large industrial or technological enterprises, blending the technological and the pastoral, the mill town and the garden city. Techno-cities of the twentieth century range from factory towns in Mussolini's Italy to the Disney creation of Celebration, Florida.

    Kargon and Molella show that the techno-city represents an experiment in integrating modern technology into the world of ideal life. Techno-cities mirror society's understanding of current technologies, and at the same time seek to regain the lost virtues of the edenic pre-industrial village. The idea of the techno-city transcended ideologies, crossed national borders, and spanned the entire twentieth century. Kargon and Molella map the concept through a series of exemplars. These include Norris, Tennessee, home to the Tennessee Valley Authority; Torviscosa, Italy, built by Italy's Fascist government to accommodate synthetic textile manufacturing (and featured in an early short by Michelangelo Antonioni); Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela, planned by a team from MIT and Harvard; and, finally, Disney's Celebration—perhaps the ultimate techno-city, a fantasy city reflecting an era in which virtual experiences are rapidly replacing actual ones.

    • Hardcover $26.95 £22.00
    • Paperback $25.00 £20.00
  • Inventing for the Environment

    Inventing for the Environment

    Arthur P. Molella and Joyce Bedi

    Essays by historians and practioners on how invention can benefit the environment.

    This ambitious book describes the many ways in which invention affects the environment (here defined broadly to include all forms of interaction between humans and nature). The book starts with nature itself and then leads readers to examine the built environment and then specific technologies in areas such as public health and energy.

    Each part focuses on a single environmental issue. Topics range widely, from the role of innovation in urban landscapes to the relationship among technological innovation, public health, and the environment. Each part features an essay by a historian, an essay by a practitioner, and a "portrait of innovation" describing an individual whose work has made a difference. The mixture of historians and practitioners is critical because statements about the environment inevitably measure present and future conditions against those of the past. Early in the industrial revolution, smoke stacks were symbols of prosperity; at its end they were regarded as signs of pollution. Historical examples can also lead to the rediscovery of an old technology, as in the revival of straw bale construction. As it explores the history of invention for the environment, the book suggests many new ways to put the past to use for the common good.

    • Hardcover $32.95 £28.00
    • Paperback $45.00 £38.00

Contributor

  • Beyond Bakelite

    Leo Baekeland and the Business of Science and Invention

    Joris Mercelis

    The changing relationships between science and industry in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, illustrated by the career of the “father of plastics.”

    The Belgian-born American chemist, inventor, and entrepreneur Leo Baekeland (1863–1944) is best known for his invention of the first synthetic plastic—his near-namesake Bakelite—which had applications ranging from electrical insulators to Art Deco jewelry. Toward the end of his career, Baekeland was called the “father of plastics”—given credit for the establishment of a sector to which many other researchers, inventors, and firms inside and outside the United States had also made significant contributions. In Beyond Bakelite, Joris Mercelis examines Baekeland's career, using it as a lens through which to view the changing relationships between science and industry on both sides of the Atlantic in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He gives special attention to the intellectual property strategies and scientific entrepreneurship of the period, making clear their relevance to contemporary concerns.

    Mercelis describes the growth of what he terms the “science-industry nexus” and the developing interdependence of science and industry. After examining Baekeland's emergence as a pragmatic innovator and leader in scientific circles, Mercelis analyzes Baekeland's international and domestic IP strategies and his efforts to reform the US patent system; his dual roles as scientist and industrialist; the importance of theoretical knowledge to the science-industry nexus; and the American Bakelite companies' research and development practices, technically oriented sales approach, and remuneration schemes. Mercelis argues that the expansion and transformation of the science-industry nexus shaped the careers and legacies of Baekeland and many of his contemporaries.

    • Paperback $55.00 £45.00
  • Handprints on Hubble

    Handprints on Hubble

    An Astronaut's Story of Invention

    Kathryn D. Sullivan

    The first American woman to walk in space recounts her experience as part of the team that launched, rescued, repaired, and maintained the Hubble Space Telescope.

    The Hubble Space Telescope has revolutionized our understanding of the universe. It has, among many other achievements, revealed thousands of galaxies in what seemed to be empty patches of sky; transformed our knowledge of black holes; found dwarf planets with moons orbiting other stars; and measured precisely how fast the universe is expanding. In Handprints on Hubble, retired astronaut Kathryn Sullivan describes her work on the NASA team that made all of this possible. Sullivan, the first American woman to walk in space, recounts how she and other astronauts, engineers, and scientists launched, rescued, repaired, and maintained Hubble, the most productive observatory ever built.

    Along the way, Sullivan chronicles her early life as a “Sputnik Baby,” her path to NASA through oceanography, and her initiation into the space program as one of “thirty-five new guys.” (She was also one of the first six women to join NASA's storied astronaut corps.) She describes in vivid detail what liftoff feels like inside a spacecraft (it's like “being in an earthquake and a fighter jet at the same time”), shows us the view from a spacewalk, and recounts the temporary grounding of the shuttle program after the Challenger disaster.Sullivan explains that “maintainability” was designed into Hubble, and she describes the work of inventing the tools and processes that made on-orbit maintenance possible. Because in-flight repair and upgrade was part of the plan, NASA was able to fix a serious defect in Hubble's mirrors—leaving literal and metaphorical “handprints on Hubble.”

    Handprints on Hubble was published with the support of the MIT Press Fund for Diverse Voices.

    • Hardcover $26.95 £22.00
  • Does America Need More Innovators?

    Does America Need More Innovators?

    Matthew Wisnioski, Eric S. Hintz, and Marie Stettler Kleine

    A critical exploration of today's global imperative to innovate, by champions, critics, and reformers of innovation.

    The open access edition of this book was made possible by generous funding from the MIT Libraries.

    Corporate executives, politicians, and school board leaders agree—Americans must innovate. Innovation experts fuel this demand with books and services that instruct aspiring innovators in best practices, personal habits, and workplace cultures for fostering innovation. But critics have begun to question the unceasing promotion of innovation, pointing out its gadget-centric shallowness, the lack of diversity among innovators, and the unequal distribution of innovation's burdens and rewards. Meanwhile, reformers work to make the training of innovators more inclusive and the outcomes of innovation more responsible. This book offers an overdue critical exploration of today's global imperative to innovate by bringing together innovation's champions, critics, and reformers in conversation. 

    The book presents an overview of innovator training, exploring the history, motivations, and philosophies of programs in private industry, universities, and government; offers a primer on critical innovation studies, with essays that historicize, contextualize, and problematize the drive to create innovators; and considers initiatives that seek to reform and reshape what it means to be an innovator.

    Contributors Errol Arkilic, Catherine Ashcraft, Leticia Britos Cavagnaro, W. Bernard Carlson, Lisa D. Cook, Humera Fasihuddin, Maryann Feldman, Erik Fisher, Benoît Godin, Jenn Gustetic, David Guston, Eric S. Hintz, Marie Stettler Kleine, Dutch MacDonald, Mickey McManus, Sebastian Pfotenhauer, Natalie Rusk, Andrew L. Russell, Lucinda M. Sanders, Brenda Trinidad, Lee Vinsel, Matthew Wisnioski

    • Paperback $45.00 £38.00
  • The Early American Daguerreotype

    The Early American Daguerreotype

    Cross-Currents in Art and Technology

    Sarah Kate Gillespie

    The American daguerreotype as something completely new: a mechanical invention that produced an image, a hybrid of fine art and science and technology.

    The daguerreotype, invented in France, came to America in 1839. By 1851, this early photographic method had been improved by American daguerreotypists to such a degree that it was often referred to as “the American process.” The daguerreotype—now perhaps mostly associated with stiffly posed portraits of serious-visaged nineteenth-century personages—was an extremely detailed photographic image, produced though a complicated process involving a copper plate, light-sensitive chemicals, and mercury fumes. It was, as Sarah Kate Gillespie shows in this generously illustrated history, something wholly and remarkably new: a product of science and innovative technology that resulted in a visual object. It was a hybrid, with roots in both fine art and science, and it interacted in reciprocally formative ways with fine art, science, and technology.

    Gillespie maps the evolution of the daguerreotype, as medium and as profession, from its introduction to the ascendancy of the “American process,” tracing its relationship to other fields and the professionalization of those fields. She does so by recounting the activities of a series of American daguerreotypists, including fine artists, scientists, and mechanical tinkerers. She describes, for example, experiments undertaken by Samuel F. B. Morse as he made the transition from artist to inventor; how artists made use of the daguerreotype, both borrowing conventions from fine art and establishing new ones for a new medium; the use of the daguerreotype in various sciences, particularly astronomy; and technological innovators who drew on their work in the mechanical arts.

    By the 1860s, the daguerreotype had been supplanted by newer technologies. Its rise (and fall) represents an early instance of the ever-constant stream of emerging visual technologies.

    • Hardcover $32.95 £28.00
  • The Color Revolution

    The Color Revolution

    Regina Lee Blaszczyk

    A history of color and commerce from haute couture to automobile showrooms to interior design.

    When the fashion industry declares that lime green is the new black, or instructs us to “think pink!,” it is not the result of a backroom deal forged by a secretive cabal of fashion journalists, designers, manufacturers, and the editor of Vogue. It is the latest development of a color revolution that has been unfolding for more than a century. In this book, the award-winning historian Regina Lee Blaszczyk traces the relationship of color and commerce, from haute couture to automobile showrooms to interior design, describing the often unrecognized role of the color profession in consumer culture.

    Blaszczyk examines the evolution of the color profession from 1850 to 1970, telling the stories of innovators who managed the color cornucopia that modern artificial dyes and pigments made possible. These “color stylists,” “color forecasters,” and “color engineers” helped corporations understand the art of illusion and the psychology of color. Blaszczyk describes the strategic burst of color that took place in the 1920s, when General Motors introduced a bright blue sedan to compete with Ford's all-black Model T and when housewares became available in a range of brilliant hues. She explains the process of color forecasting—not a conspiracy to manipulate hapless consumers but a careful reading of cultural trends and consumer taste. And she shows how color information flowed from the fashion houses of Paris to textile mills in New Jersey.

    Today professional colorists are part of design management teams at such global corporations as Hilton, Disney, and Toyota. The Color Revolution tells the history of how colorists help industry capture the hearts and dollars of consumers.

    • Hardcover $40.00 £32.00
  • Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age

    Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age

    Kurt W. Beyer

    The career of computer visionary Grace Murray Hopper, whose innovative work in programming laid the foundations for the user-friendliness of today's personal computers that sparked the information age.

    A Hollywood biopic about the life of computer pioneer Grace Murray Hopper (1906–1992) would go like this: a young professor abandons the ivy-covered walls of academia to serve her country in the Navy after Pearl Harbor and finds herself on the front lines of the computer revolution. She works hard to succeed in the all-male computer industry, is almost brought down by personal problems but survives them, and ends her career as a celebrated elder stateswoman of computing, a heroine to thousands, hailed as the inventor of computer programming. Throughout Hopper's later years, the popular media told this simplified version of her life story. In Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age, Kurt Beyer reveals a more authentic Hopper, a vibrant and complex woman whose career paralleled the meteoric trajectory of the postwar computer industry.

    Both rebellious and collaborative, Hopper was influential in male-dominated military and business organizations at a time when women were encouraged to devote themselves to housework and childbearing. Hopper's greatest technical achievement was to create the tools that would allow humans to communicate with computers in terms other than ones and zeroes. This advance influenced all future programming and software design and laid the foundation for the development of user-friendly personal computers.

    • Hardcover $29.95 £25.00
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  • Power Struggles

    Power Struggles

    Scientific Authority and the Creation of Practical Electricity Before Edison

    Michael Brian Schiffer

    The development of electrical technologies that laid the foundation for Edison's work: their invention, commercialization, and adoption.

    In 1882, Thomas Edison and his Edison Electric Light Company unveiled the first large-scale electrical system in the world to light a stretch of offices in a city. This was a monumental achievement, but it was not the beginning of the electrical age. The first electric generators were built in the 1830s, the earliest commercial lighting systems before 1860, and the first commercial application of generator-powered lights (in lighthouses) in the early 1860s. In Power Struggles, Michael Brian Schiffer examines some of these earlier efforts, both successful and unsuccessful, that paved the way for Edison. After laying out a unified theoretical framework for understanding technological change, Schiffer presents a series of fascinating case studies of pre-Edison electrical technologies, including Volta's electrochemical battery, the blacksmith's electric motor, the first mechanical generators, Morse's telegraph, the Atlantic cable, and the lighting of the Capitol dome. Schiffer discusses claims of “practicality” and “impracticality” (sometimes hotly contested) made for these technologies, and examines the central role of the scientific authority—in particular, the activities of Joseph Henry, mid-nineteenth-century America's foremost scientist—in determining the fate of particular technologies. These emerging electrical technologies formed the foundation of the modern industrial world. Schiffer shows how and why they became commercial products in the context of an evolving corporate capitalism in which conflicting judgments of practicality sometimes turned into power struggles.

    • Hardcover $8.75 £6.99
    • Paperback $4.75 £3.99
  • Internet Alley

    Internet Alley

    High Technology in Tysons Corner, 1945–2005

    Paul E. Ceruzzi

    How government military contractors and high-tech firms transformed an unincorporated suburban crossroads into the center of the world's Internet management and governance.

    Much of the world's Internet management and governance takes place in a corridor extending west from Washington, DC, through northern Virginia toward Washington Dulles International Airport. Much of the United States' military planning and analysis takes place here as well. At the center of that corridor is Tysons Corner—an unincorporated suburban crossroads once dominated by dairy farms and gravel pits. Today, the government contractors and high- tech firms—companies like DynCorp, CACI, Verisign, and SAIC—that now populate this corridor have created an “Internet Alley” off the Washington Beltway. In From Tysons Corner to Internet Alley, Paul Ceruzzi examines this compact area of intense commercial development and describes its transformation into one of the most dynamic and prosperous regions in the country.

    Ceruzzi explains how a concentration of military contractors carrying out weapons analysis, systems engineering, operations research, and telecommunications combined with suburban growth patterns to drive the region's development. The dot-com bubble's burst was offset here, he points out, by the government's growing national security-related need for information technology. Ceruzzi looks in detail at the nature of the work carried out by these government contractors and how it can be considered truly innovative in terms of both technology and management.

    Today in Tysons Corner, clusters of sleek new office buildings housing high-technology companies stand out against the suburban landscape, and the upscale Tysons Galleria Mall is neighbor to a government-owned radio tower marked by a sign warning visitors not to photograph or sketch it. Ceruzzi finds that a variety of perennially relevant issues intersect here, making it both a literal and figurative crossroads: federal support of scientific research, the shift of government activities to private contractors, local politics of land use, and the postwar movement from central cities to suburbs.

    • Hardcover $29.95 £25.00
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