What do Benjamin Franklin, born in January 1706, and the Consumer Electronics Show 2015 have in common?
Benjamin Franklin is known for a lot of different things…he is among the Founding Fathers of the United States, a politician, postmaster, inventor, scientist, and much more. While he may be most known for inventing the lightning rod and bifocals, Benjamin Franklin got his start in the newspaper business where he eventually became the first paper merchant in America, helping to start 18 mills in Virginia and surrounding areas. It is an understatement to say that Benjamin Franklin, born on January 17, 1706, changed the world forever.
Franklin was born in Boston, MA as one of ten children. When he was about 12 years old, he became an apprentice to one of his brother’s, James, who was a printer. Franklin grew to understand the printing business and trade through this experience. He eventually left his brother’s paper and in 1728 set up a printing house with a partner. He began publishing The Pennsylvania Gazette, giving him a platform to share his thoughts through essays and observations. The power of the paper helped earn him a significant amount of social respect, setting the stage for what was to come.
Franklin went on to become a successful author, evolved the science of population studies, and published the Gulf Stream chart.
Franklin then went on to investigate electricity with his famous flying kite in a storm. While he proposed the experiment in 1750, it was not until 1767 in Joseph Priestley’s History and Present Status of Electricity that Franklin’s experiment was written up with credit to him.
Franklin then moved on to experiment with light, meteorology, and the concept of cooling, resulting in his letter, Cooling by Evaporation. Franklin went on to create one of the first volunteer firefighting companies in the country, and even printed a new currency for New Jersey using anti-counterfeiting techniques that he developed. He was a strong advocate for printed paper money and wrote A Modest Enquiry into the Nature and Necessity of a Paper Currency in 1729.
And of course, Franklin eventually contributed and signed the Declaration of Independence and is forever commemorated on the US $100 bill.
So, what does all of this have to do with technology or anything happening today? Well, everything. Benjamin Franklin had his hand in many cookie jars as we have very, incompletely, summarized. The aforementioned innovations and ideas are just a few of the contributions that Benjamin Franklin made to the society we live in today.
This month, the analysts from gap intelligence attended the 2015 trade show. Benjamin Franklin was born almost exactly 309 years ago to the day and here we are, still experiencing innovations and new technological advances based on many of the discoveries and inventions that he discovered. Maps, refrigerators, paper currency, newspapers, weather patterns, it is all there! We may have GPS, smart fridges, Apple Pay, and weather apps now, but none of these things would be possible without all of that up front work by Mr. Franklin.