February 16, 2024
There are no self-made men or women in the gear trade. I frequently told my children that “all generalizations are wrong” yet I will stand by that opening sentence. Why? Because we work in a trade so old that no one can claim to have “invented” it. It seems to have popped up in several places with a surprising level of sophistication while lingering on in a relatively primitive state for a very long time. [If you have not read Darle Dudley’s The Evolution of the Gear Art you are in for a treat.] Shortly after I hung out my shingle as a consultant, one of the people I most admire in this business asked me to write a few pieces for an online technical encyclopedia. It may have been his way of helping me gain some name recognition; he certainly could have done the pro bono project himself. One of the articles was on the history of gears; others were on various manufacturing methods. The common thread in all of them was that no one person or organization could claim credit for “inventing” anything on their own. Everything we know about gears, all the ways we make gears, were “developed” by multiple people in distant places over a period of time. Yes, there were patents filed for some advances; competing patents often appeared in different countries around the same time. So why bring this up while discussing role models and mentors? Because unless some cable channel links our trade to ancient aliens or Area 51, we all have to recognize that the route to gear knowledge goes through many people. We cannot point to a “eureka” moment where things suddenly became clear. If you are a “gear expert” you owe the people who wrote things down a lot of credit. If you aspire to be a “gear expert” you will have your favorite reference books and instructors but they too “stand on the shoulders of giants.” I have had the honor of meeting some of those giants during the past 49 years; others I know only from their writings. Here at Gear Technology, we are honored to be the custodians of the largest archive of online gear information ever assembled. When you use it via keyword search take note of the authors’ names and remember to give proper citations in your own writings. And consider sharing your own “developments” with our worldwide audience via article submissions and technical papers.