By David F. Noble
"An terribly particular and heavily argued exam of the institutional units that got here to hyperlink administration and engineering."--The New Republic
"One of the easiest books of the final decade....It has that infrequent stability: quiet, cumulative strength with bolts of lightning each few pages."--William Appleman Williams, Oregon nation University
"One of the exceptional works of radical social technology of the 1970s."--Monthly Review
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Additional info for America by Design: Science, Technology, and the Rise of Corporate Capitalism
10 The emergence of the electrical communications industry during the same period similarly involved the expansion of some companies, primarily through strategies of patent monopoly, at the expense of others. The electromagnetic telegraph, patented by Samuel F. B. Morse in 1837, had become commonplace by the time Alexander Graham Bell and his assistant Thomas Watson began investigating the possibilities of sending several messages over the same wire by perfecting the multiple telegraph. Bell’s experiments convinced him that he could transmit the human voice by wire, and in 1876, at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, he was able to demonstrate his new “talking machine” to an enthusiastic and dumbfounded audience.
The early pioneers in arc lighting were therefore also pioneers in the development of better and cheaper sources of current, primarily through improvements upon Faraday’s dynamo of 1831. The major breakthroughs, technically speaking, came in the 1870s. The dynamo developed by Charles F. Brush fared the best in a comparative test held by the Franklin Institute in 1877, and Brush went on to make improvements in the arc light, setting up the California Electric Light Company and the Brush Electric Company, in 1879 and 1881, respectively.
Most importantly, therefore, this book is an attempt to lift the technological veil. For as technology has increasingly placed the world at people’s fingertips, those people have become less able to put their finger on precisely what technology is. A general mystification evolved just as modern technology was becoming a dominant aspect of social life. Paradoxically perhaps, the popular perception of technology as an autonomous prime mover in history, independent of human will, became widespread at precisely the time when the social process that is modern technology in fact began to come under the conscious control of human authority, in the specific form of private corporate capital.
America by Design: Science, Technology, and the Rise of Corporate Capitalism by David F. Noble