What is an innovation?

in·no·va·tion noun \ˌi-nə-ˈvā-shən\

Definition #1: a new idea, device or method
Definition #2: the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods

What makes something innovative? Why is innovation so important for our world, the human race and our lives as we know them? Who decides or defines what is innovative and what is not? How do innovations work their way into our lives?  Rapidly?  Slowly? Can you name 3 innovations that have significantly impacted your life?

Examine the following three innovations that have played a significant role in changing things in my lifetime.  They are:

#1: Air Conditioning

Yes, I must admit it was invented before I was born. But there is a case to be made that air conditioning was nowhere near as common in 1970, when I was born, than it is now. When I was a child, my family’s house in SC was not air conditioned. Yes, it was hot in the summer! But think of all the things air conditioning has changed for better and worse. Server farms could not exist without air conditioning, and thus the modern version of the Internet would not be a reality. Increased electrical use over the past 50 years in the United States alone has contributed to the greenhouse effect and global warming. For more insight on how air conditioning has changed the world, read this article from Salon.com: http://www.salon.com/2014/08/16/how_air_conditioning_remade_modern_america/

#2: Personal computer

Although the first personal computer was created in 1956 (the LGP-30, which weighed 730 pounds and cost $47,000, equivalent to about $414,000 today), household personal computers were not a reality until after 1970, when I was born. In the early 1970’s, personal computers were becoming a reality for American households. The 1973 Xerox Alto computer had the first GUI, or graphical user interface, that allowed users to interact with the computer visually instead of having to type code to load files and run programs (Unix). In the early 1980’s computers like the Commodore, Tandy and Apple II E made personal computers a reality for many households. Users played games, wrote papers, managed budgets and did hundreds of other activities that we now take for granted on our laptops or our phones. In 1982, the personal computer was named the “Machine of the Year” by Time Magazine, replacing their traditional “Person of the Year” issue. With the effect personal computers have had on nearly every facet of our lives, both work and play, it is one of the top innovations of my lifetime. Just think about how pervasive laptops are today…!

#3: Smart phone

It is hard to believe that the first iPhone was released in 2007 and how quickly it made Blackberry and/or cell phone devices become obsolete. Think of how often you use a smart phone. How much of your life would be changed had the smartphone not been invented? Particularly with the iPhone, think of the millions of spinoff products that are created specifically for the device. From apps to accessibility, the smart phone has had perhaps the most personal impact of these three innovations.

Your task is the following: On your own, decide on a list of three innovative devices that have had the most significant impact on your life. Your assignment is to post a comment on this blog post; we will discuss how to do that in class. In your post, give three examples and explain why each item is important to you.

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