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  • A chocolate teapot.


  • An ashtray on a motorbike.


  • The underwater hair dryer.


  • Some inventions are nonstarters.


  • Good ideas on the other hand, are a little harder to come by.


  • But sometimes having a brilliant idea isn't enough.


  • [Failed inventions that changed the world.].


  • Just ask Douglas Engelbart.

    可以參考看看 Douglas Engelbart。

  • You've probably never heard of Douglas Engelbart, you're more likely to have heard of Steve Jobs, here's why.

    大家可能沒聽過 Douglas Engelbart 這個人,但只聽過 Steve Jobs,以下我可以來解釋一下。

  • In 1960 at the Stanford Research Institute, Engelbart, a student of electrical engineering, noted that the way people were interacting with their new computers was inefficient.

    在 1960 年的史丹福研究院,Engelbart 是一名電機工程系的學生,發現大眾在使用新電腦上的效率很低。

  • A combination of chunky keyboards and clunky joysticks, Engelbart thought he could do better.

    一台結合厚重的鍵盤和笨重的操縱桿,Engelbart 認為他可以改進它。

  • His solution to this was a device that controlled an on-screen cursor named the bug via two perpendicular wheels from afar, and it was a brilliant idea.


  • In 1966, NASA trialed Engelbart's invention and found it one of their more efficient pieces of technology.

    1966 年,NASA 試用了 Engelbart 的發明,並發現這是他們效率較高的一項技術之一。

  • Two years later, alongside his fellow inventor Bill English, Douglas showcased something called the mouse to a 1,000 strong San Francisco crowd in what became known within industry circles as "the mother of all demos.".

    Douglas 和一起合作研發的 Bill English 於兩年後到舊金山向一千人展示名為「滑鼠」的東西,其後於業界被稱為「所有演示之母」。

  • Engelbart and English had a smash hit on their hands.

    Engelbart 和 English 令全城轟動。

  • Their mouse was the next big thing.


  • Only, it wasn't.


  • Five years later, Engelbart lost his funding and many key members of his team, including Bill English, left Stanford to work for Xerox.

    五年後,Engelbart 失去了資金,團隊的重要成員也離開了,包括 Bill English 離史丹佛到全錄公司 (Xerox) 工作。

  • And in 1979 a man you may have heard of offered Xerox shares in his company in exchange for eyes on their research centre.

    在 1979 年,一名大家對他名字並不陌生的男子,把自己公司的股份買如 Xerox 以換取至他們的研究中心觀察。

  • That man was Steve Jobs, the company was Apple and the research centre yielded the mouse.

    而這個人就是 Steve Jobs,那就公司就是蘋果 (Apple),其後研發中心亦出產滑鼠。

  • Jobs loved the idea so much that, legend has it, he had a team of engineers immediately stop what they were working on in order to rebuild, streamline and ultimately relaunch the mouse as an Apple product.

    Jobs 非常喜歡這個想法,聽說他馬上叫停一組正在進行研究工作的工程團隊,以重開及簡化並重新發布以滑鼠作為蘋果的重點產品。

  • The Stanford Research Institute owned the original patent, meaning Engelbart never saw any of the profit from future sales of these mice.

    史丹福研究院擁有原始專利權,也就是 Engelbart 從未從這隻小老鼠上獲得任何利潤。

  • Engelbart's thinking was ahead of his time, but sometimes a good idea just needs someone like Jobs with the force of personality to see it through.

    可想而知 Engelbart 的思想比當時的走得前衛,但有好的想法亦需要有一個像 Jobs 這樣有衝勁的才有可能會實現。

  • Somebody with the ability to see beyond what's directly in front of them, those who can dream a little.


  • Take Stephanie Kwolek for example, here was a talented chemist with a passion for fabrics and textiles who through her research into synthetic fibres, discovered a solution stronger than steel but as light as fiberglass.

    再以 Stephanie Kwolek 作例子,她是一名對布料和紡織品充滿熱情又既才華橫溢的化學家。她透過研究合成纖維,她發現有一種比鋼強韌但又比玻璃纖維輕。

  • We call her invention Kevlar and today it appears in tyres, oven gloves, bulletproof vests, space suits and spacecrafts.


  • But when Stephanie first developed this crystallized cloudy liquid colleagues refused to spin it for her, fearing it would clog up their machines.

    但當 Stephanie 初步研發出會結晶帶渾濁的液體時,同事們都拒絕替她紡線,因為擔心會堵塞機器。

  • It was 1965 when Kwolek was dreaming up her super-strength fibres.

    至 1965 年前,Kwolek 的超級強韌布料都還只是個空想。

  • A decade earlier, filmmaker Morton Heilig had dreamed of creating an immersive, sensorial experience for a cinema audience.

    而在十年前,電影製作人 Morton Heilig 曾幻想為電影院的觀眾創造身臨其境的感官體驗。

  • And so in 1957, he created the Sensorama.

    於是在 1957 年,他設計出「體驗劇場」(Sensorama)。

  • A 3D video machine that let audiences experience riding a motorbike via vibrating seats and wind machines or watch a belly dancer perform with cheap perfume pumped into the auditorium.

    一台有 3D 視覺的機器可以讓觀眾透過震動的座位和風力機親歷騎機車的其境,或是向觀眾席噴出廉價香水以模仿觀看肚皮舞表演。

  • Heilig had grand ambitions and he pitched his Sensorama to Henry Ford as a revolutionary show tool.

    Heilig 雄心勃勃,他將自己的 Sensorama 推薦給 Henry Ford,作為一種革命性的表演工具。

  • The future was there for the taking.


  • Only, it wasn't.


  • Because nobody, including Ford, wanted to buy it.

    因為沒有人想買,包括 Ford。

  • The Sensorama ended up beneath a tarpaulin in Heilig's back garden.

    Seonsorama 最後的命運就是被封存於 Heilig 後花園的一塊篷帆布下。

  • Morton was undeterred, three years after the first Sensorama he patented the Telesphere Mask, a 3D video headset.

    不過 Morton 並沒有因此而灰心,在發明 Sensorama 的三年後,他為一個 3D 影片播放耳機申請了專利,名為 Telesphere Mask。

  • Viewed from today, one can sketch a direct path from Heilig's mask to the Oculus Rift and the virtual reality industry that is expected to be worth 170 billion USD by the year 2022.

    時至今日,從一個 Heilig 的設計到 Oculus Rift 的發展,估計至 2022 年 VR 業的價值會達 1,700 億美元。

  • Sadly though, Morton Heilig will not be a part of it.

    可惜的是 Morton Heilig 沒有參與這個發展。

  • He died in 1997, before VR found an audience in its current form, no perfume required.

    他於 1997 去世,就在現今 VR 正式面世前,已經不再需要加入香水了。

  • Heilig, like Engelbart before him, had the right idea at the wrong time.

    Heilig 就像前面的 Engelbart,在錯誤的時間提出有用的想法。

  • Wilson Greatbatch on the other hand, was exactly where he needed to be and when.

    而 Wilson Greatbatch 卻相反,可謂適逢其時。

  • Wilson wanted to listen to and record the human heart.

    當時 Wilson 想要聆聽及錄下人類的心跳聲。

  • He failedspectacularly.


  • When attempting to record the heart's electrical impulses Wilson chose the wrong size resistor.

    他嘗試想要錄下心臟的電脈衝,Wilson 卻選用錯誤大小的電阻器。

  • Instead of recording his machine started to give out an electrical pulse of its own.


  • Greatbatch was not listening to the heart, he was speaking to it.

    Greatbatch 不是在聆聽心跳聲,而是在替它發聲。

  • Wilson Greatbatch had just accidently invented the pacemaker.

    Wilson Greatbatch 竟意外地發明了心律調節器。

  • His mistake would save millions of lives over the next 60 years and continues to do so.


  • After he'd tested it out on a couple of dogs.


  • Suffice to say, it worked.


  • Greatbatch's company today still manufactures 90 percent of all pacemaker batteries made worldwide.

    Greatbatch 的公司至今所生產的起搏器電池佔全球的 90%。

  • The man himself lived to a ripe old age, his heart never missing a beat in 92 years.

    而他亦非常長壽,他的心跳在那 92 年間從不間斷。

  • As Henry Ford himself once mused: "Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.".

    如 Henry Ford 曾自我反思「一次的失敗是一個重新開始的機會,而這次要學聰明」。

  • Just a shame he never bought that Sensorama when he had the chance.

    不過遺憾的是,他當時可沒把握機會買下 Sensorama。

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A chocolate teapot.


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