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Innovation Flashback.

NOVEMBER 12, 2000 -- Bill Gates declares tablets the future of consumer computing. At a Microsoft event, Gates displayed a fully functional prototype tablet and told attendees that "the Tablet PC will represent the next major evolution in design and functionality." He may have been right, but he was evidently premature. Microsoft's tablet program never quite got off the ground--initial designs were too big and too heavy to provide the convenience Gates promised--and it wasn't until 2010 that Apple introduced the first iPad, to initial skepticism but rapid success.

NOVEMBER 15, 1904 -- King C. Gillette is granted a patent for the safety razor. While working as a traveling salesman, Gillette encountered William Painter, who invented a disposable bottle cap. Painter told him that the key to making money from an invention was to invent something people would buy over and over. Years later, that thought sparked an inspiration while Gillette was shaving: a disposable safety razor. The disposable razor was easier to use than the traditional straight blade, and it didn't have to be sent out for sharpening--the user just disposed of the dull blade and replaced it with a new one. The Gillette Safety Razor company opened in South Boston in 1903; the South Boston Manufacturing Center is now one of the company's two technical centers. The US Army issued Gillette razors to soldiers In the field in World War I; many of those soldiers continued to use Gillette razors upon their return, making it a staple in American households. Gillette pioneered the freemium business model, selling low-priced razor handles that would accommodate only the company's disposable razors, wedding consumers to the company over the long term.

NOVEMBER 22, 1995 -- Pixar Animation Studios releases its first full-length feature, Toy Story. The first completely computer-generated feature-length film, the movie was an unexpected runaway hit, ultimately grossing more than $360 million and spawning two sequels that generated similar numbers. At its release the film was hailed both as a great technical achievement, representing a new level of achievement in computer animation, and a great movie. It made Pixar, which had made the movie in partnership with Disney, into an industry power in its own right and launched a new era for feature-length animated movies. Toy Story 4 is scheduled for release in summer 2019.

DECEMBER 10, 1799 -- France becomes the first country to make the metric system its accepted system of measure. The metric system was designed by a panel of French scientists assembled after the French Revolution and charged to create a unified system of weights and measures for the country. At the time, systems of weights and measures could vary by region, town, or even trade, a state of affairs that created confusion and hindered efforts to standardize trade and develop taxation systems. By 1791, the panel had developed a decimal system and established bases for developing standards (for instance, the unit of length should be based on a fractional arc of the earth's curvature at its meridian). The French Assembly accepted the concept on March 30, 1791. The panel and its sponsoring institution, the Academie des sciences, then set out to create standards and implement the plan. By April 1795, all base units were formally defined. The first standards were then created--platinum prototypes representing one meter and one kilogram. The metric system was made the sole system of measurement throughout the country by law on December 10, 1799.

DECEMBER 26, 1992 -- Time names its first non-human "Man of the Year"--the personal computer. The honor recognized both the astronomical growth in personal computers'--from 724,000 sold in the United States in 1980 to 2.8 million in 1982'--and their increasing influence on how we do things, on the job and at home. Time would change the name of the honor from Man (or, occasionally, Woman) of the Year to Person of the Year in 1999. The magazine has also recognized groups rather than individuals. In 2006, the Person of the Year was "You," a recognition of the growing role of largely anonymous, user-generated content on the Internet generally and especially in the social media platforms that were increasingly influencing culture and thought.
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Publication:Research-Technology Management
Date:Nov 1, 2018
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