Many people in the UK know the story of UK-based Joseph Swan developing his own bulb, patenting it, setting up a company and selling it, supplying homes and businesses such as The Savoy, and then a US marketer called Edison later coming along and taking credit for all of these achievements. There are similar stories too, e.g. UK based inventor (James Dewar) inventing the vacuum flask, a foreign company (Thermos) later claiming it as their own. And beyond the UK, most French people will say the Lumière brothers invented cinema, but UK people will point to the Roundhay Garden Scene shown in Leeds several years earler, and of course if you're from the US you'll probably think that was Edison too.
Not trying to take any particular sides, just trying to make a point that your country of origin can have an impact on what you learn (and perhaps also that this article is a little US-focussed).
Not to mention his other works on other things electrical: motors, welding, ovens and smelting.
It's generally "known" that the Altair was the first personal computer. However, from reading Wikipedia, I found that the first microprocessor based PC seems to have been a French system a couple years before the Altair:
On the other hand, relaxing the criteria might mean that wasn't the first either.
The Kenbak-1 didn't have a microprocessor, but was arguably a personal computer:
Perhaps this is a better choice for the first personal computer since it was a little earlier and more ancestral to modern x86, but it was also so expensive that it was not anything an ordinary person could have owned:
On the language side, it also points out that many "Americanisms", oft-derided by certain sorts of English people, are actually nothing of the sort, but rather original English retained in American usage.
An entertaining and informatie read, in my opinion.
It was entirely discovered by Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier in France, when in the US, Robert Gallo of NIH was given all the credit.
That not only applies to location ( nations ) but also time. An example being copernicus. When the catholic church was all powerful and copernicus was "heretical" with his heliocenstrism, the poles rejected him and painted him as a german. When catholic power waned and heliocentrism won over geocentrism, the poles embraced copernicus as their son. So for a time, germans could claim that they invented heliocentrism.
Of course copernicus didn't invent the idea of heliocentrism either.
And it's highly likely aristarchus didn't invent the idea first either.
Most reporting is, since the USA is the biggest cultural exporter out there. It's incredibly difficult to convince people that the prominent US figures aren't always the ones who achieved things because their work is documented better and got more spotlight.
Also, I've actually never heard of the Roundhay Garden Scene and was dead certain that Lumiere brothers originated cinema, so that's a lesson for me.
> Wineburg, one of the world's top researchers in the field of history education, raises larger issues about how history should be taught. He says that Zinn's desire to cast a light on what he saw as historic injustice was a crusade built on secondary sources of questionable provenance, omission of exculpatory evidence, leading questions and shaky connections between evidence and conclusions.
> Over time, however, a problem emerged as Zinn's book became the single authoritative source of history for so many Americans, Wineburg said. In substituting one buttoned-up interpretation of the past for another, Wineburg finds, A People's History and traditional textbooks are mirror images that relegate students to similar roles as absorbers – not analysts – of information. Wineburg writes that a heavily filtered and weighted interpretation becomes dangerous when "we are talking about how we educate the young, those who do not yet get the interpretive game."
Also, Biden falsely claiming Latimer invented the lightbulb detracts from what is a fascinating story in its own right: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Howard_Latimer.
What I find missing in the original Steven Novella article is the role of the dynamo  as an enabling technology for the lightbulb, and indeed, the second industrial revolution:
> Commercial electricity production started in 1870 with the coupling of the dynamo to the hydraulic turbine. The mechanical production of electric power began the Second Industrial Revolution and made possible several inventions using electricity, with the major contributors being Thomas Alva Edison and Nikola Tesla. Previously the only way to produce electricity was by chemical reactions or using battery cells, and the only practical use of electricity was for the telegraph.
The same is true for almost any invention. Most successful inventions aren't created by geniuses out of whole cloth. Rather, inventions are often re-combinations of a variety of pre-existing innovations in a novel way that are practical and efficient. We should give praise to the people who made the litany of small contributions and improvements before the invention, but also recognize that the credited inventor(s) usually made a contribution that was more than the sum of the components.
To use a different example less culturally connected to our time, the ideas of differentiation and integration (they weren't necessarily called this) were fairly well-known before Newton and Leibniz. Those two independently recombined the existing knowledge into a simpler formulation (the fundamental theorems or calculus) and thus get the credit. They made these two concepts highly useful. Yet neither of them could have done his work without thousands of mathematicians who made small mathematical discoveries or inventions in the millennia before them.
Or in another example, Jim Keller recently said that "Moore's Law" is not a result of one set of principles applied repeatedly over the decades, but a result of probably hundreds of individual innovations.
I personally think we should credit teams of people, but perhaps list the inventor who was most successful at producing the technology economically at scale with primary credit.
The three Japanese men above received many accolades for their work, including a Nobel prize. The crux of the controversy is white America's perennial reluctance to give just due to black innovators. Hyperbole becomes necessary to counteract their reticence. It would obviously be easier to simply be forthright about black contributions, but here we have yet another example of that not happening; characterizing Latimer's work as a "footnote" reeks of the aforementioned reticence.
I thought he was being ironic but it turned out he really assumed pretty much everything in the last 500 years or so had been invented in England.
I assume the equivalent belief is probably pretty widespread.
Politicians today: "Vote for me, we will do xyz and change history ...books"
(that was 1916. Later, Ford would become more outspoken, leading to current debate as to what degree he sympathised with certain european politicians known for claiming to create a great future and change history.)
So he did invent it. Being the first that puts stuff together to get a working result is exactly what everyone means if they say someone invented something. That it builds on existing inventions is the norm.
The Wright brothers are credited for inventing the airplane based on their first powered flight, even though this plane was in no way commercially viable or even useful. It was only a proof of concept.
Applying the same principle to light bulbs, you'd have to credit someone earlier than Edison. They had working, functional light bulbs, they were just niche.
Being the one to make a version of an existing thing that's good enough to actually use regularly, and developing a supporting infrastructure, is important, but isn't really invention.
Edison (and others; it was pretty regional) convinced consumers they wanted lightbulbs, much as Apple convinced consumers they wanted smartphones and Zoom convinced consumers they wanted VC.
Both took existing technology, added the missing pieces to make it a wide scale, must have product, created an ecosystem around it, and popularized it to the market, and reaped massive monetary rewards.
As far as the regular person is concerned, calling the person most responsible for the widespread adoption of a technology the “inventor” is probably more right than wrong.
The person to bring the first mature product to market is if anything, the antithesis of an inventor. Edison and Jobs were astute businessmen, and that is high praise enough. The CEO of Boeing did not invent flight, just because Boeing introduced the first modern airliners as people know it.
We do not need to add more superlatives to people who have already been deified in popular culture. Overloading terms like these, only serves dilutes their meaning, at the detriment of language at large.
I really don't see how it would be so. They would be the marketer. Case in point from your example: nobody considers Jobs to invent smartphone, touchscreen, or really any other technological piece. He's credited for the iPhone as a concept that for the first time combined the separate, already existing pieces plus marketing.