Business or Art?

Continuing with the Manufacturing Month theme…

Darle W. Dudley referred to the gear trade as an “art.” This reminds me of the early days of Gear Technology magazine when the covers were often famous Leonardo Di Vinci sketches. The same person who painted wonderful portraits was obsessed with designing mechanisms and machinery. He was not pressured to specialize or discouraged by his patrons to concentrate on his “highest skills.”

Few people were “educated” until recent times but those who were often had a wide range of interests. Many famous people dabbled in inventing useful objects and technologies. Life for most people involved physical labor from dawn to dusk with very little time for thinking about easier ways to do things. Imagine getting up each day to work the fields with little more than a sharp stick, knowing that this was as good as it was ever going to get for you. For most of those people it wasn’t even their own land they were sweating over.

The making of new labor-saving tools has been the most “human” of activities since some caveman discovered fire. Evidence of “flint napping” to make weapons is one of the ways experts track the age of dig sites; pottery and other manmade artifacts are even more common. Imagine the grief some kid got trying to talk his mother or father into trying his latest creation the next time you present an idea to your boss.

Was Henry Ford’s motivation to build an automobile developed while cleaning his father’s livery stable? I like to think so. Necessity may be the mother of invention but the desire to avoid unnecessary grunt work is certainly its father. How eager would you be to trade manure shoveling for woodworking or blacksmithing? I would take that job transfer in an instant.

About Charles D. Schultz 678 Articles
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.