If you were on a battlefield, say, 700 years ago, Damascus steel mattered. The super-strong blades were fabled in their age, said to have sliced through the swords of foes and solid rock. Then we forgot how to make it.
When most kids complain about something taking too long, their father’s response isn’t usually as generous as pioneering an innovation that spans the next half a century. But Edwin Land, creator of Polaroid, was not your average dad.
When Lee de Forest accidentally created the first electronic audio amplifier – the Audion – he “inaugurated the age of electronics”. You can learn about it in this excerpt from Nicholas Carr’s book What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.