This is one of my favorite collections of quotations about innovation, put together by a group at Sanders Printing Corporation the publication was called Folio 12. The Sanders Printing Corporation seems to have folded and so I have reproduced their entire publication on innovation. The poem at the beginning is by Folio 12 staff, the quotes regarding innovation are below.
Folio 12 Abet Innovation (Embrace a new concept today)
Original Concept and execution: Naimark & Barba, Inc.
Photography: Id Issacs
Publisher & printed by Sanders Printing Corporation
Not only the young say it:
The old ways are often not good enough,
Innovate or perish.
People. Companies. Schools. Countries.
Luxury of leisurely adaptation long since gone.
Someday is never.
But change is frightening.
We are the greatest obstacle.
(It tool us so long to get almost comfortable with the way it is. Oh, so sad.)
You and I.
Can we learn about the future from the past?
Can we learn by studying resistance to change?
Often very funny.
*But not too much, friend
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends upon the unreasonable man."
"All human institutions since the dawn of prehistory or earlier had always been designed to prevent change--all of them: family, government, church, army. Change has always been a catastrophic threat to human security."
"The disturbing fact is that the vast majority of people, including educated and otherwise sophisticated people find the idea of change so threatening that they attempt to deny its existence. Even many people who understand intellectually that change is accelerating, have not internalized that knowledge, do not take this critical social fact into account in planning their own personal lives."
"The difficulty with these rare geniuses is that they can be recognized only in retrospect, never in prospect. You never know for certain that your present-day tormenter, who you think is a crank, may not turn out to be another Goddard..."
"At every crossway on the road that leads to the future...each progressive spirit is opposed by...a thousand men appointed to guard the past."
"...invention demands men with fanatic faith in their ideas, men willing to ignore the experts who say it cannot be done, men unafraid to butt heads with established authority..."
"When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is probably wrong."
"...the innovators who develops an invention into a commercial product or process and tries it in the marketplace contributes as much or more to technological innovation and economic growth that the originator of the idea."
"Given the underground resistance to change...the new idea either finds a champion or dies."
"Persecution of great discoveries was due partly to mental resistance to new ideas and partly to the disturbance caused to entrenched authority and vested interest, intellectual and material. Sometime lack of diplomacy on the part of the discoverer has aggravated matters. Opposition must have killed at birth many discoveries."
"...the process of innovation is not simply an act. It is not just design, or market analysis, or investment, or entrepreneurship, or the intricacies that intervene between the concept and the marketplace. It is all of these, a complex sequence of steps. And it is all the more complex because there is nothing automatic about it. The engines of innovation are human beings."
"Do you know that all great spurts in...progress came just after some unorthodox ideas or exotic impressions had penetrated into a closed system?"
"In science the credit goes to the man who convinces the world, not to the man to whom the idea first occurs."
To prophesy is extremely difficult--especially with respect to the future.
"I watched his countenance closely, to see if he was not deranged... and I was assured by other Senators after we left the room that they had no confidence in it."
"...as far as I can judge, I do not look upon any system of wireless telegraphy as a serious competitor with our cables. Some years ago I said the same thing and nothing has since occurred to alter my views."
- Reaction of Senator Smith of Indiana after Samuel Mores demonstrated his telegraph before member of Congress (1842)
"...we hope that Professor Langley will not put his substantial greatness as a scientist in further peril by continuing to waste his time and the money involved in further airship experiments. Life is short and he is capable of services to humanity incomparably greater than can be expected to result from trying to fly...for students and investigators of the Langley type, there are more useful employments."
- Sir John Wolfe-Barry, at a stockholders meeting of the Western Telegraph Company (1907)
In 1913 Lee De Forest, inventor of the audion tube which made broadcasting possible, was brought to trial on charges of fraudulently using the U.S. mails to sell stock to the public in the Radio Telephone Company, "a worthless enterprise." In the court proceedings, the district attorney charged that "De Forest has said in many newspapers and over his signature that is would be possible to transmit the human voice across the Atlantic before many years. Based on these absurd and deliberately misleading statements, the misguided public...has been persuaded to purchase stock in his company..."
- New York Times advice to Samuel Langley in 1903 one week before the successful Wright Brothers flight at Kitty Hawk (Langley is credited with the first unmanned airplane flight on May 6, 1896)
In 1876 Chauncey M. Depew asked his friend, the president of Western Union, whether he thought he ought to acquire a 1/6-interest in the Bell telephone patent for $10,000. His reply: "There is nothing in this patent whatever, nor is there anything in the scheme itself, except as a toy."
- De Forest was acquitted, but the judge advised him"
"...to get a common garden variety of job and stick to it."
"Mr. Bell, after careful consideration of your invention, while it is a very interesting novelty, we have come to the conclusion that it has no commercial possibilities."
There has been a great deal said about a 3,000 mile high-angle rocket. In my opinion such a thing is impossible for many years. The people who have been writing, these things that annoy me, have been talking about a 3,000 mile high-angle rocket shot from one continent to another, carrying an atomic bomb and so directed as to be a precise weapon which would land exactly on a certain target, such as a city."
- J. P. Morgan's comments on behalf of the officials and engineers of Western Union after a demonstration of the telephone.
I say technically, I don't think anyone in the world knows how to do such a thing, and I feel confident that it will not be done for a very long period of time to come...I think we can leave it out of our thinking. I wish the American people would leave that out of their thinking."
"That is the biggest fool thing we have ever done...the [atom] bomb will never go off, and I speak as an expert in explosives."
"...a pretty plan; but there is just one point overlooked--the steam engine requires a firm basis on which to work."
- Admiral William Leahy to President Truman (1945)
"Even if the propeller had the power of propelling a vessel, it would be found altogether useless in practice, because the power being applied in the stern, it would be absolutely impossible to make the vessel steer."
- Sir Joseph Banks,
President of the British Royal Society (early 1800's)
In 1908 Billy Durant, in trying to raise money to create an automobile trust, boasted to J.P. Morgan & Co. "that the time would come when half a million automobiles a year will be running on the roads of this country." This annoyed Morgan partner George W. Perkins who said "If that fellow has any sense, he'll keep those observations to himself." Unable to raise capital in Wall Street, Durant went home and put together something called General Motors.
- Sir William Symonds,
Surveyor of the British Navy (1837)
"The Edison Company offered me the general superintendency of the company but only on the condition that I would give up my gas engine and devote myself to something really useful."
"The actual building of roads devoted to motor cars is not for the near future in spite of rumors to that effect."
"There is no plea which will justify the use of high-tension and alternating currents, either in a scientific or a commercial sense. They are employed solely to induce investment in copper wire and real estate."
"Good enough for our transatlantic friends...but unworthy of the attention of practical or scientific men." A committee of the British Parliament in 1878 reporting on Thomas Edison's ideas for developing an incandescent lamp.
"...the advancement of the arts from year to year taxes our credulity and seems to presage the arrival of that period when further improvements must end."
- The U.S. Commissioner of Patents (1844)
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