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Splendidly Unreasonable Inventors Cover.

In a chapter entitled “A Pass at the Moon,” we highlight Jonas Salk, who pioneered the polio vaccine; in “Taking a Dip” we are introduced to John Holland, the Irish schoolteacher who went underwater to prove a point and came up with the submarine.

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The Lives, Loves and Deaths of Splendidly Unreasonable Inventors

A business client with a special interest in the entrepreneurial spirit commissioned us to write a book featuring a number of inventors and the ways in which they came to their discoveries.


We take a look, for example, at Chester Carlson, whose inventiveness paved the way for the copying machine. Carlson, whose family settled at one point in an abandoned chicken coop, endured a sad and solitary childhood before making his way to graduate from CalTech in 1930.


Like many inventors, he realized he had a “big idea by the tail” but he didn't know what to do with it. He offered his concept to business giants Kodak and IBM, each of whom overlooked the opportunity to develop Carlson's prototype. Chester Carlson lived simply in spite of the $150 million fortune he amassed from the Xerox machine, and died alone of a heart attack in a dark movie theatre.

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