Edward Kleinschmidt is the only inventor we know that had his own lab in the 19th century and still lived to see the Apple II. He was 101 years old when he passed in 1977.
But how come it took so long that only he made the journey with his amazing tech? I would argue that the mathematical science developed to help win WWII and the science of the cold war developed to land on the moon actually slowed down the process of innovation.
Conrad Zuse laughed at the prospect of using vacuum tubes. Conrad Zuse invented his first Z1 computer using telephone relays and old movie film for storage. An example of the Simon 1 relay computer can be seen in the Computer History Museum.
After looking at nearly all tech from electric razors to industrial robots I find that communication companies have been the driving force behind innovations like Kleinschmidt’s teletype. The path was not a straight one with dead ends like the 30-ton mainframes, Viatron “microprocessor” and Cray 4 .
Sorry UNIVAC fans but the 30-ton 1105 (in our collection – 29.99 tons) was absurd compared to the ABC Computer and the Z1. If 40’s transistor tech was properly evaluated, computers would have never grown as large as the ENIAC.
Claude Shannon’s “mathematical theory of communication” wins the day for the the modern PC. He was first to expose the benefits of non-analog systems and use the term “bit”.
Here is our 100 year old Kleinschmidt teletype. Plutarch’s parallel tech history might include this CCS Teleswitcher store and forward message switcher from 1971. This British black box used the PDP-8 as a back-end processor. It only sold a few installations perhaps because of its $100K price.
Both are notable for their small compact design. Contrast that with the larger than necessary footprints of the UNIVAC 9200 and IBM 370.