Of all the major innovations in Business and Technology that have catapulted us ahead of everyone else in the world, what has been invented in a government lab and not by private industry?
Let's start with the computer
. The Mark1
was first developed at the DoD lab at Harvard in 1944 to establish a guidance system for the big 16 guns for our new Iowa class Battleship. Across the Atlantic in Bletchley Park the Bombe
Computer was invented to break the Enigma
Machine code used by Germany. Both the Mark1
were considered THE origin of the computer as we know it and both were developed in raw, pure science government labs.
Later, after the war, the Ballistics Research Laboratory
took work from a DoD contract and developed EINAC1
[Electrical Numerical Integrator And Calculator]. That was in 1946. Four years later the research was bought by Remington Rand which changed the name to Univac. [the first commercial computers were Univac and IBM's models in 1951-1953]
Advanced Research Projects Agency
, a small skunkworks kinda place threw together a little project back in the late sixties. It was a fully funded government PURE RESEARCH PROJECT that partnered the US Government with research departments at several universities. That pure research brought together disparate research, none commercial and tied it together and made a thing called ARPAnet
. You might know its current name as THE INTERNET
. My ARPAnet email address has been active since fall 1973 [though I seldom get any mail from it].
Now the thing with folks like the NSF [National Science Foundation]
, they spread their monies through research institutes throughout the nation, coordinating research. Much of the result is what is called Pure Science, whether it is about a biomaterial that can affect cancer cells
at the NIH or an artificial intelligence algorithm
from Carnegie Mellon that helps Oil Companies find oil easier by quicker assimilation of their data.
You can also look at the National Institute of Health
's Patents. They do research when Corporations deem the significance of the illness not conducive to a good ROI. Bird Flu [H5N1]
issues would be a good example of NIH research that has resulted in patents and now Commercial usage. While both humans and the food chain were threatened, Corporations didn't seem that interested.
The resulting Pure Science usually has no actual profit value [although the Government does hold a bunch of patents]. BUT the folks that learn the Pure Science go on to Pfizer or General Electric or Exxon or IBM and exploit that research and knowledge to derive profitable tools for their companies or successful products for the marketplace.
Right now, on my Unix computer I am using a Multi-Petabyte Multi-Server database indexing algorithm that was developed through NSF at Carnegie Mellon and then partnered through IBM for client use. It allows the free indexing and 3Dsearching of 500 Petabytes of media and ALL its associated metadata. It took CMU nearly 2 years to deal with it correctly. IBM would either not have touched the project itself or shipped the development to India or China. Now the patents are US and secure.