“I have to admit to finding this story most amusing: for it punctures and then deflates one of the big lefty talking points of our times. Either the ‘You didn’t build that’ meme or the contention in Marianna Mazzucato’s book, ‘The Entrepreneurial State,’ that all technological innovation ultimately comes from government,” Tim Worstall writes for Forbes. “Presumably, her thesis then swiftly moving on to the idea that all money made from technological development should belong to said governments.”
“The background here is that a British inventor went to one of the government agencies supposed to aid people in developing new technologies. That was his mistake in fact, going to a government agency,” Worstall writes. “The technology he was developing was for multitouch screens. Exactly what Apple looked for when they were making the iPhone in fact. But Apple ended up using an entirely different method of getting to the same end, being able to pinch and zoom and all that. Why? Because that government agency proved to be entirely incompetent at actually aiding the inventor.”
“The reason that government ‘aid’ for invention isn’t going to work is because of the way that government works, on a rather leisurely timescale that is (even when it’s doing the right thing it does it slowly),” Worstall writes. “There were several groups working on multitouch screens. The sadness is that the one that was most advanced made the terrible mistake of going to the government for aid in developing it. And given the snail’s pace at which government works it didn’t get developed and didn’t get taken up as the industry technology.”
Read more in the full article here.
Andrew Orlowski reports for The Register, “This is a disturbing, cautionary tale of quasi-government and its bungling. It describes how Britain could have led the recent advances in touchscreen technology, developing kit capable detecting more than one fingertip at once, years before Apple did – if it weren’t for the nation’s treacle-footed, self-serving quangocracy.”
“The success of the iPhone and iPad was a generational ‘paradigm shift,’ and companies that failed to move with the touchy times include fallen giants Nokia and BlackBerry,” Orlowski reports. “And that seismic shift so easily could have been based on a British invention.”
“Our saga begins with Andrew Fentem, an electronic engineering graduate and former Thorn EMI engineer who – after a few years working on defence projects – was at the University of Cambridge and the London Business School doing a PhD,” Orlowski reports. “Fentem submitted a funding application to Nesta [National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts ] in January 2003, while he continued to work on new prototypes. ‘When I first approached Nesta I was told that I would receive a funding decision within 6 weeks,’ he says. ‘However, it took Nesta a year to just write the contract. To put that in perspective, it took Apple only 2 years to conceive, develop and commercialise the entire iPhone.'”
Tons more in the full article here.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]