A "How-To" Manual for Innovation

 Copyright David Jacques Gerber 2015. Publisher:  Yale University Press. 

Copyright David Jacques Gerber 2015. Publisher: Yale University Press. 

Overview

A "How-To" manual can be derived from the biography of a man who automated large scale drafting, revolutionized the apparel industry, and standardized printed circuit boards  (the de facto standard used by the printed circuit board software industry is named after him). 

There are many parallels with what we see today as we experience the next level of automation through artificial intelligence

“The Inventor's Dilemma: The Remarkable Life of H. Joseph Gerber” by David Gerber, is an inspiring read.  There are two stories in this book that continuously overlay and underscore the other.  

Personal Character

One story is about personal character.   When still a boy, H. Joseph Gerber escaped the Holocaust and arrived in the US with very little, other than his intellect and perseverance.  He worked his way through school, developed a start-up, went public, and raised a happy family all on the way to being given the highest national award in technology by the President of the United States.  Despite the destruction to his childhood life, family, and friends, he led a positive and constructive life that benefited many.

History Repeats Itself

The second story brings disruptive technology to life.  The book follows Gerber’s journey from developing an idea into a mature public holding company while maintaining a culture of innovation.  In retrospect, you could derive a “how to” manual that explains how to take a new idea to market, iterate on it, create new ideas and markets in an self-sustaining cycle, and help re-build a faltering national economy.

Throughout his career as an inventor, technologist, and businessman, Gerber invented and applied technologies that created new markets and disrupted existing ones across distinct industries.  There are many parallels with what we see today as we experience the next level of automation through artificial intelligence.  History repeats itself.

A Place in American History

Gerber played an essential role in the transformation of American industry.  This is evident in his well-deserved place at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.  His story is worth reading on a least two distinct levels, maybe more.