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Inventing the 20th Century: 100 Inventions That Shaped the World from the Airplane to the Zipper [Paperback]

By Stephen Van Dulken (Author)
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Item description for Inventing the 20th Century: 100 Inventions That Shaped the World from the Airplane to the Zipper by Stephen Van Dulken...

Imagine your average day without zippers, airplanes or vacuum cleaners, without your clock radio or your personal stereo, without photocopiers. All of these devices were invented within the last hundred years and have since transformed our daily landscape.

Drawing on The British Library's vast and comprehensive collection of patents, this handsomely illustrated book recounts the history of 100 of the most significant inventions of the century, decade by decade.

From the photocopier to the Slinky, from genetic fingerprinting to the Lava Lamp, from the ballpoint pen to the fuel cell, Inventing the Twentieth Century is an informative, illuminating window onto the technology of the twentieth century. It's the perfect gift book for every inventor and tinkerer in your life

"A wonderful book"
"--L.A. Daily Breeze, Oct. 19, 2001"

Citations And Professional Reviews
Inventing the 20th Century: 100 Inventions That Shaped the World from the Airplane to the Zipper by Stephen Van Dulken has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • Wilson Senior High Core Col - 01/01/2002 page 216
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/2004 page 336
  • Wilson Senior High Core Col - 01/01/2007 page 274
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 12/31/2008 page 452
  • Wilson Senior High Core Col - 01/01/2011 page 347

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Item Specifications...

Studio: NYU Press
Pages   246
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.16" Width: 6.12" Height: 0.77"
Weight:   1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 1, 2002
Publisher   NYU Press
ISBN  0814788122  
ISBN13  9780814788127  

Availability  100 units.
Availability accurate as of Sep 23, 2017 12:02.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
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More About Stephen Van Dulken

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The author of "Inventing the 20th Century: 100 Inventions that Shaped the World" and "American Inventions: A History of Curious, Extraordinary, and Just Plain Useful Patents" (both available through NYU Press), Stephen Van Dulken is an expert curator in the Patents Information Service of The British Library.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Art > Art History > Schools, Periods & Styles > Modern
2Books > Subjects > History > World > 20th Century
3Books > Subjects > History > World > General
4Books > Subjects > Reference > General
5Books > Subjects > Reference
6Books > Subjects > Science > History & Philosophy > Science
7Books > Subjects > Science > History & Philosophy > History of Science
8Books > Subjects > Science > Technology > History of Technology

Reviews - What do customers think about Inventing the 20th Century: 100 Inventions That Shaped the World?

Excellent  Jan 4, 2007
I got this as a gift for a friend who is an Engineer and holds many patents of his own. He loves this kind of stuff and thought this was a fantastically fun, interesting and informative book!
Past 100 years re-introduced  Dec 3, 2006
It is for certain that the world has taken gigantic leaps and bounds during the past one hundred years, making up what we know as the 20th century. Author Stephen Van Dulken successfully summarizes the major historical events and technological breakthroughs, starting with the year 1900 and leading up to 1999, in his enlightening book Inventing the 20th Century. It is an easy, fast, read keeping the reader continuously amused with numerous ground-breaking discoveries and the stories behind them.

Dubbing the 20th century as the age of `energy,' Van Dulken crafts a highly entertaining text, giving us a brief glimpse of 100 influential inventions categorized by decade. During this century, we journeyed into space with invention of the jet engine, split an atom, created the transistor radio, cloned a sheep, and came up with the ideas of wind and solar energy.

Each invention is introduced with a one page description of the how the idea came about, describing the patent process, as well as, a facing page of very interesting diagrams. The inventions are prefaced by a two page, stirring, historical, summary of the decade from around the world. Unfortunately, the majority of the history and inventions mentioned in the book are primarily focused in North America and Europe. Understandably, as the international super-powers, resources were more prevalent, as Phillips acknowledges in the introduction. However, it would be nice to see some inventions coming from less powerful areas of the world.

As a whole,Van Dulken does a suburb job of giving the reader a panoramic view of the 20th century, re-introducing us to the past 100 years with an emphasis on the creative ideas people have developed. From the invention of the television to the Post-it note, each has impacted the world greatly. Van Dulken has re-invented our history through his book, allowing the reader to visualize how certain innovative ideas have come into existence, some changing throughout the years while others remaining static. Ultimately, we are challenged to meditate on technology and the exciting future before us. Where will we be after the next 100 years? We will just have to wait for Van Dulken's next fascinating book.
100 Inventions that shaped the world? Hardly.  Jun 11, 2001
The subtitle to Van Dulken's "Inventing the 20th Century" is "100 inventions that shaped the world." True, the airplane, jet engine, automatic transmission, and microchip, among others, certainly have changed the world. But I find it hard to accept that Silly Putty and the Slinky fall into that category. His 100 inventions include many other inventions of questionable worth and pedigree, including several British ones that few Americans would recognize. In many instances the inventions cited by patents were not the ones that turned into the products that we are now familiar with, and his discriptions were often difficult to follow, in part because the auther writes more like a patent attorney than a historian or storyteller. The stories of many of the most significant inventions were already well known to me ---- their stories have been better told in other books, articles or documentaries that I've seen or read over the years. The more obscure inventions were not presented in any more exciting manner. The fault may have been in the author being limited by the format of one or two pages of narrative for each invention. The overall effect was that of a bland, incomplete and unsatisfying meal. You're left feeling hungry but without a desire to consume any more.
"Intellectual Capital" with Global Impact  Mar 18, 2001
This is one of those rare books which is as entertaining as it is informative. Van Dulken selects and discusses "100 inventions that shaped the world", organizing his material within ten chapters to correspond with the ten decades of the 20th century:

1900-1910 (e.g. aeroplane, air conditioning, and the vacuum cleaner)

1910-1919 (e.g. Formica®, neon lighting, and the self-service supermarket

1920-1929 (e.g. the bread slicing machine, power steering, and television

1930-1939 (e.g. the jet engine, the photocopier, and radar

1940-1949 (e.g. the ballpoint pen, the computer, and the transistor

1950-1959 (e.g. the geodesic dome, the microchip, and Velcro® fasteners)

1960-1969 (e.g. implantable pacemaker, the mouse, and the Workmate® workbench) 1970-1979 (e.g. the artificial heart, Post-it® notes, and the smart card)

1980-1989 (e.g. cellular phones, genetic fingerprinting, and the video game)

1990-1999 (e.g. cloning animals, fuel cells, and programmable materials)

Van Dulken discusses ten different inventions in each of the ten chapters, providing detailed descriptions as well as explanations of the historical context in which each was devised and by whom. In the Introduction by Andrew Phillips, the reader is told that the inventions highlighted in this book "have benefitted people of virtually every nation. Some have helped combat the despair of disease, poverty, excessive (even unendurable) labour. Other inventions -- though less illustrated by this book --have contributed to the ravages of war. What comes forth so often, however, from the examples described here is the individuality and initiative which characterizes so many inventors who helped change the world between 1900 and 1999." Quite true. Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out Mokyr's The Lever of Riches and Novak's The Fire of Invention.


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