Ford, Kodak, polaroid, GE, AT&T/Bell Labs were superseded by Toyota, Canon/Nikon, Sony and Nokia/Alcatel (Alcatel now owns Bell Labs), a while ago, but we still had Apple.

Now that Steve Jobs is gone what's left in terms of American inovation?
Where is the next Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), James Watt (1736-1819), Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), Eli Whitney (1765-1825), Samuel Morse (1791-1872), Charles Goodyear (1800-1860), Cyrus McCormick (1809-1884), Isaac Singer (1811-1875), George Westinghouse (1846-1914), Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), Thomas Edison (1847-1931), George Eastman (1854-1932), Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), Henry Ford (1863-1947), Wright Brothers (1867-1948), David Sarnoff (1891-1971), Robert Jarvik (1946-), Steve Jobs (1955-2011) and Steve Wozniak.
There are many more, less known, innovators in micro electronics and computer science including, Grace Murray Hopper (1906-1992) (computer languages), John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley (1910-1989) (Transistor), David Packard (1912-1996) (co-founder Hewlett-Packard), Douglas Engelbart (1925-) (mouse), Robert Noyce (1927-1990) (Semiconductor ICs - co-founded Fairchild), Gordon Moore (1929-) (microprocessor - co-founded Intel), Ken Thompson (1943-) and Dennis Ritchie (1941-2011)(UNIX®), Bill Gates (1955-) (The Basic interpreter for the Apple II was the last technically innovative thing he did, he was an expert at copying/acquiring/bundling and selling software)

If Mark Zuckerberg (1984- )(Facebook) is an example of our future, we're in big trouble.

At least we still have Intel and Motorola (Their phone business is up for sale in 2011) for design if not manufacturing and Google [Larry Page & Sergey Brin (1973 -- )].
And as of 2011 the USA is still the largest economy in the world.

However, most large companies even the pharmaceuticals, are cutting way back on research and development (R&D) in pursuit of short term profits. Will countries which are able to to take long term views of growth surpass us in economic growth?

In 2012 I sat next to Jonathan Piel, retired editor in chief of Scientific American, at a genealogy meeting he attended with his wife who is a genealogist.
  Turns out we were doing something similar in 1981-83 when I was at Bell Labs/AT&T working on producing documents in electronic form, before the Internet and he was involved in a similar project at Scientific American.

We were lamenting the loss of what he called one of Americas three great research institutions Bell Labs (7 Nobel Prizes/ 13 people) which has seen continuous downsizing since AT&T was broken up in 1984. So much for competition. In 2006 Lucent merged with Alcatel and was headquartered in Paris. They moved the Bell Labs sign which had stood for 80+ years in front of 600 Mountain Ave., Murray Hill, NJ where the transistor and lasers were invented and proof of the Big Bang was discovered to a side entrance.
In 2016 Nokia acquired Alcatel-Lucent.
  Piel said all that is left of the great institutions know for pure research are MIT and Cal Tech.

So much for competition being good for anything but next quarter's profits.
I don't completely believe this, but I do believe greed has trumped pride in American business.
See: Nobel prize latest in long line for Bell Labs

Misc:
Between my son, Tom, and I we have been associated with three of the top 6 institutions in terms of Nobel Prizes.
University of California at Berkeley - 15 Nobel Prizes in Science and 5 in Economics
Bell Labs - 13 Nobel Prize winners
MIT - 9 Faculty Nobel Prizes, 23 Alumni Nobel Prizes.

Links:
Failure - Persistence - Success
Evolution of the Economy | IIP Digital at usembassy.gov
Industrial Revolution
Significant Industrial Revolution Inventors
National Medal of Technology and Innovation - Wikipedia
Steve Jobs' Legacy In the Pantheon of Great American Innovators
The future of parking Budapest
DealTalk: Sizing up who might buy Motorola's phone business | Reuters
History of Personal Computers

Books:


last updated 4 Nov 2011