As the world eagerly looked forward to the dawn of a new millennium, the turning of the calendar also represented an opportunity to pause and reflect on the tremendous ingenuity and invention that marked the previous hundred years. Electricity, automobiles, telephones, radio, television, computers these are a just a few of the innovations the decades had introduced all compliments of the world s engineers.
Celebrating a century of innovation, the National Academy of Engineering and a consortium of professional engineering societies present the most significant engineering triumphs of the era. While the achievements encompass many dramatic and highly visible engineering feats, from the first flight at Kitty Hawk to the birth of the Internet, the lineup is largely composed of more commonplace advances that had a truly profound and widespread effect on all of society. Indeed, most of the achievements profiled in this book are so much a part of our lives that we have come to take them for granted. But to learn the stories behind these great achievements is to behold and appreciate them anew.
Topping the list is electrification. More than half of the Top 20 would not have been possible without it. Abundant and available electric power helped spur America s economic development and distributed benefits widely, from cities to farms. This achievement clearly shines as an example of how engineering has changed the world.
But often we take the likes of air conditioning and refrigeration for granted even though they have significantly improved our sense of comfort and contributed to our physical health, giving us the ability to transport and extend the shelf life of food. Radio and television are so much more than mere entertainment devices. Indeed, they have changed the way we view the world and our place in it. The telephone has made the whole planet a smaller but much more connected place for all of us. And underlying and enabling many of these technologies is the computer from room-sized super computers to palm-sized devices.
Each chapter tells the life story of a specific engineering achievement. Each chapter also features a personal reflection by a notable engineer involved with the achievement. Among them: Bill Gates, who brought the personal computer into our home; Charles Townes, inventor of the laser; Robert Kahn, one of the originators of the Internet; Bill Anders, the Apollo 8 astronaut who took the famous Earthrise photograph while in lunar orbit; and Wilson Greatbatch, inventor of the pacemaker. The engineers commentaries capture the excitement, imagination, vision, and tenacity that ultimately made each achievement a reality. Timelines trace the evolution of the achievements while dramatic illustrations depict how things actually work. Replete with photographs and drawings, the drama of invention and discovery is brought vividly to life.
More than a simple tally of engineering achievements, A Century of Innovation is proof positive that the genius and the talent of the world s engineers have truly transformed the way people live.
"A big, Life-magazine-style book, it includes perspectives from the likes of Bill Gates, Neil Armstrong and Arthur C. Clarke on such inventions as the airplane, computer and highways from a top-20 list selected by the National Academy of Engineering. A gift to make the technophile in your life feel appreciated."
-- USA Today, December 11, 2003
"During the past 100 years, society has been transformed by the efforts and magnificent accomplishments of engineers. The National Academy of Engineering celebrates feats such as electricity, the automobile, radio, television, and computers in this oversized, brilliantly illustrated retrospective. From the first flight by the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk to the birth of the Internet, readers learn the story behind each great achievement and the impact these things have on our lives today. ... Diagrams appear throughout the book, as do time lines tracking development of each engineering achievement discussed."
-- Science News, December 20 & 27
"One should pay attention to this lovely large-format coffee-table book, for it is more than it seems to be. ... It is obvious that this book likewise has the hearts and minds of its developers written into it. ... The articles convey the sense of balance and judgment that good history should provide. ... Each chapter is arranged in three parts: first, a richly illustrated overview of the technological area; second, a one-page perspective statement by someone in the field; and third, a two-page timeline of milestones in the area. ... These three storytelling elements combine in an excellent strategy for painting a clear picture of the transformation of American life that was accomplished during the 20th century. ... The soul-stretching alteration of human existence is what this fine this surprising committee-built book lays before us in such dramatic terms."
-- Physics Today, December 2004
"With a compelling cover design, bold titles, and a little name dropping -- Neil Armstrong and Arthur C. Clarke contributed the foreword and afterword, respectively -- this book immediately invites attention from a broad audience. ...contributes to the noble effort of making science as engaging as any best-selling novel. ...should make sweet music for engineers and nonengineers alike."
-- Chemical & Engineering News, March 1, 2004
"This is a must-have reference, or at least a must-read book. ...this is most likely the best summary of engineering innovation ever compiled. ... These notable achievements and innovator-role models should inspire future engineers for decades. It is a great summary of the crowning achievements of engineering, and it will enhance your pride in being an engineer."
-- International Engineers' Association website
"...an attractive coffee-table book ...the 20 achievements make for interesting reading."
-- The Times Higher Education Supplement, March 5, 2004
"...most of the achievements profiled in this book are so much a part of our lives that we have come to take them for granted. But to learn the stories behind these great achievements is to behold and appreciate them anew. ... The engineers' commentaries capture the excitement, imagination, vision, and tenacity that ultimately made each achievement a reality. ... Replete with photographs and drawings, the drama of invention and discovery is brought vividly to life. More than a simple tally of engineering achievements, A Century of Innovation is proof that the genius and talent of the world's engineers has transformed the way people live. With a chronology of important events, with chapters heavily illustrated and concise, the book makes the history of engineering a fun read."
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