Author Talk: Eric S. Hintz

Author Talk: Eric S. Hintz

American Independent Inventors in an Era of Corporate R&D


THURSDAY, DECEMBER 2nd, 2021 AT 7:00 P.M.
Registration for Eric Hintz’s author talk is exclusively through Eventbrite.

During the nineteenth century, heroic individual inventors such as Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell created entirely new industries while achieving widespread fame. However, by 1927, a New York Times editorial suggested that teams of corporate scientists at General Electric, AT&T, and DuPont had replaced the solitary “garret inventor” as the wellspring of invention. But these inventors never disappeared. In this talk, Eric Hintz (Lemelson Center, Smithsonian Institution) will argue that lesser-known inventors such as Chester Carlson (Xerox photocopier), Samuel Ruben (Duracell batteries), and Earl Tupper (Tupperware) continued to develop important technologies throughout the twentieth century. Moreover, Hintz explains how independent inventors gradually fell from public view as corporate brands increasingly became associated with high-tech innovation. The independents enjoyed a resurgence, however, at the turn of the twenty-first century, as Apple's Steve Jobs and Shark Tank's Lori Greiner heralded a new generation of heroic inventor-entrepreneurs. By recovering the stories of a group once considered extinct, Hintz will show that independent inventors have long been—and remain—an important source of new technologies.


Eric S. Hintz is a historian with the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. His research interests include the history of science and technology and US business and economic history.


Registration of Eric Hintz’s talk is exclusively available through Eventbrite at