Eric S. Hintz

Eric S. Hintz is a Historian with the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History and coeditor of Does America Need More Innovators? (MIT Press).

  • American Independent Inventors in an Era of Corporate R&D

    Eric S. Hintz

    How America's individual inventors persisted alongside corporate R&D labs as an important source of inventions.

    During the nineteenth century, such heroic individual inventors as Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell created entirely new industries while achieving widespread fame. By 1927, however, a New York Times editorial suggested that teams of corporate scientists at General Electric, AT&T, and DuPont had replaced the solitary “garret inventor” as the wellspring of invention. But these inventors never disappeared. In this book, Eric Hintz argues that such lesser-known inventors as Chester Carlson (Xerox photocopier), Samuel Ruben (Duracell batteries), and Earl Tupper (Tupperware) continued to develop important technologies throughout the twentieth century. Moreover, Hintz explains how independent inventors gradually fell from public view as corporate brands increasingly became associated with high-tech innovation.

    Focusing on the years from 1890 to 1950, Hintz documents how American independent inventors competed (and sometimes partnered) with their corporate rivals, adopted a variety of flexible commercialization strategies, established a series of short-lived professional groups, lobbied for fairer patent laws, and mobilized for two world wars. After 1950, the experiences of independent inventors generally mirrored the patterns of their predecessors, and they continued to be overshadowed during corporate R&D's postwar golden age. The independents enjoyed a resurgence, however, at the turn of the twenty-first century, as Apple's Steve Jobs and Shark Tank's Lori Greiner heralded a new generation of heroic inventor-entrepreneurs.

    • Paperback $60.00
  • 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