Well, sometimes there really are new ideas!

While it is important to keep in mind that most new ideas aren't likely to be new, sometimes something really is new.  And thank goodness.  Life would be a dull, grey affair if we couldn't bring truly new things into the world.  Today marks the birth of just this sort of thing: according to metacool's research and development partner Telstar Logistics, today marks the 100th anniversary of naval aviation:

Naval aviation was invented one hundred years ago today, on January 18, 1911, when a 24 year-old barnstormer pilot named Eugene B. Ely completed the world's first successful landing on a ship. It happened in San Francisco Bay, aboard the crusier USS Pennsylvania, which had a temporary, 133-foot wooden landing strip built above her afterdeck and gun turret as part of the experiment.

I love the context of this historical event, for several reasons.  First, it happened in San Francisco.  It's cool to think that remarkable mashups were happening out here back when "web" meant something that came out of a spider.  Second, that this innovation really is a mashup: it slams together several new technologies — an airplane and a modern warship — in a way which produced a genuine first.  Perhaps the very nature of mashups makes them more likely to disprove the rule of nothing being new under the sun?  Take two common things, put them together, and that interaction may be genuinely new and a great source of value creation.  Finally, innovation doesn't just happen.  Close your eyes and imagine the human drama of this day one hundred years ago, and the importance of measured risk taking becomes readily apparent.

Hats off to Eugen B. Ely, who had guts to get out and do it.

1 thought on “Well, sometimes there really are new ideas!

  1. Eugen B. Ely certainly deserves credit for such a risky flight experiment. The real innovator in this story, and one often over looked by history, is, was Glen Curtiss. Holder of the land speed record for several decades and the true innovator in flight, who risked everything he owned to fight the Wright Brothers in court, and won!

Comments are closed.