This issue you’ll notice that a new word appears on the cover: Innovation. Sitting around an editorial meeting recently, we decided to add the subtitle, “The Magazine of Innovation,” because that’s exactly what we’ve been giving you for the past 23 years—a broad range of fascinating stories ranging from long-ago Mayan astronomers to the two Bell Labs physicists who recently won the Nobel Prize for profoundly changing our lives with the invention of the CCD, or charge-coupled device (see “The Miracle of Digital Imaging.”)
Each story we publish, we get a little bit closer to illuminating the nature of innovation itself: the spirit, perseverance, vision, and ability to “think outside the box” that results in invention and breakthrough. While not peculiar to Americans alone, we seem to have more than an abundance of innovators and innovation in our midst. We know that most of you reading this magazine are tinkering with things right now—figuring out how to improve, modify, or make something. For many of us, it’s simply in our DNA.
With that in mind, we asked one of our favorite (and geekiest of the geeky) writers, Stewart Wolpin, to review the past decade’s top trends in consumer electronics. We Americans have not seen a period of such innovation since perhaps the 1870s, which saw the invention of the duplex telegraph, telephone, light bulb, phonograph, cable car, breech-loading firearm, and alternating current.
Remember 1999 when we faced “Y2K problems” and wondered if the new millennium would bring total chaos or mostly just fun parties? Seems like ancient history. Then, our TV was about as deep as it was wide. Recording television programming required a VCR with a tape. Cell phones could do nothing but talk. There was no Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, YouTube, or Twitter to speak of—“social networking” was something you did with a drink in hand talking to an actual human being. We think that you’ll find the stories of innovators behind the DVR, eBook, plasma TV, and cell phone camera fascinating, and inspiring, and the reach of their imaginations and talents truly breathtaking.
As always, we’re eager to hear your comments about the magazine, as well as your own stories of innovation. Please send along your comments and thoughts.
Edwin S. Grosvenor