Celebrating Inventions

Alessandro Volta
Photo by Historia de una

In our daily news feature this week, we brought you the story of the 10th birthday celebration for weblogs — that’s right, it appears that the weblog is now 10 years old. Well, sort of.

Here’s an invention that is completely ubiquitous in our daily world — over 100 million blogs and counting — yet it’s not clear who actually should be credited with its invention.

CNET offers three candidates for creating what we think of as a blog: posts sorted by date; most recent post at the top; previous posts archived with easy access; and, an invitation to easily post your own response or comment that then appears with the original blog post.

There is Dave Winer, a real pioneer for developing blogs, tools such as RSS, and podcasting. (Dave, where would we be without you?) His Scripting News launched on April 1, 1997.

Then there is the controversial Jorn Barger, who claims to have created the term “web log” in December 1997. Although you will find a lot of people who challenge Jorn on a lot of his claims, this one goes relatively unchallenged.

CNET’s final candidate for worthy mention is Justin Hall, who the New York Times Magazine crowned the “founding father of personal blogging.” Justin began to post a personal diary on links.net, in January 1994, while he was a student at Swarthmore College. Justin is not seeking this credit, though. He subscribes to the spontaneous appearance theory — people from different places and in different ways arriving at a similar point.

Rebecca Blood weighs in on her history of weblogs to keep the history, and revisionist history, alive.

So, as you toast the blog’s birthday, here’s a way to keep the toast going: take a look around your daily offline life to celebrate these inventors for making each day as fun as a blog. (Was Gérard Depardieu really the inventor of the toaster?)

  • Adolphe Sax, saxophone: in other words, no Adolphe, no jazz.
  • Lars Magnus Ericsson, handheld micro telephone: will his picture be on the iPhone?
  • Edwin Howard Armstrong, inventor of FM Radio: can you imagine a world with only AM?
  • László Bíró, ballpoint pen: how would we be able to write a number on our hand?
  • Chester Greenwood, earmuffs: well, someone had to come up with the practical, but dorky, look.
  • Nils Bohlin, inventor of the 3-point seat belt: now you know whose name to use in vain, and to thank.
  • Richard Drew, masking tape: where would US Homeland Security and Tom Ridge be without him?
  • Gleb Kotelnikov, knapsack parachute: I know this is going to come in handy one of these days.
  • Ralph Baer, inventor of home console for video games: what would the kids be doing all the time?
  • Arthur Wynne, crossword puzzle: now you know an answer to a question sure to appear.
  • Neil Arnott, inventor of the water bed: enough said.
  • Alessandro Volta, battery: how many times a day do you rely on a battery?
  • Percy Spencer, microwave oven: the world wouldn’t have fast food — well, maybe Percy should be held accountable.

- Bill Reichblum

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