I use this blog to gather information and thoughts about invention and innovation, the subjects I've been teaching at Stanford University Continuing Studies Program since 2005.
The current course is Principles of Invention and Innovation (Summer '17).
Our book "Scalable Innovation" is now available on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Scalable-Innovation-Inventors-Entrepreneurs-Professionals/dp/1466590971/
Sunday, August 08, 2010
10 thousand monkeys with 10 thousand VCRs
A good example for explaining the 4Q diagram: a new technology was created to address a totally new market. Even people who had no clue how devices worked bought and used VCRs.
In the early 1980s, an apocryphal story made the rounds among video storeowners concerning a hapless customer who brought his VCR back to the store where he’d purchased it a year earlier, complaining that it had stopped working. The storeowner looked it over, wondering if there had been some mechanical failure, but found none. Upon ejecting the videocassette currently in the deck, the storeowner found that it had been played and recorded over so many times that the magnetic tape had worn to the point of snapping. Handing the customer the tape, the storeowner asked if all of his tapes were this worn, to which the customer responded, “I didn’t even know that piece came out!”
Greenberg, Joshua. From Betamax to Blockbuster : Video Stores and the Invention of Movies on Video. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press, 2008. p 41.
Another story from the same book shows the deep roots of IP TV:
Perhaps the most famous video hobbyist of these early days was Hugh Hefner of Playboy fame, who outfitted both Playboy mansions with Ampex openreel video recorders in the early 1970s and created what might have been the first television time-shifting system. When he received the weekly TV Guide, Hefner would mark all the shows that he might want to see, and a full-time employee would individually tape each program on the reel-to-reel Ampex machines. Whenever he wanted to watch a program, any time of day or night, Hefner would call the video control room from one of the bedrooms and request that a western, or a classic film noir, or whatever else he might be in the mood for be routed to his television set.