image : W. Bernard Carlson

W. Bernard Carlson

W. Bernard Carlson is Chair and Professor in the Department of Engineering and Society at the University of Virginia and he holds a joint appointment with the History Department. He received his Ph.D. in the history and sociology of science from the University of Pennsylvania in 1984 and did his postdoctoral work in business history at the Harvard Business School. Bernie is an expert on the role of innovation in American history, and his research focuses on how inventors, engineers, and managers used technology to create new systems and enterprises between 1875 and 1925. His publications include Innovation as a Social Process: Elihu Thomson and the Rise of General Electric, 1870-1900 (Cambridge University Press, 1991; paper 2002) as well as Technology in World History, 7 volumes (Oxford University Press, 2005). In 2008, Technology in World History was awarded the Sally Hacker Prize from the Society for the History of Technology as the best book aimed at a broad audience. It has since been translated into Korean. With support from the Sloan Foundation, he has completed a biography of another electrical inventor Nikola Tesla. Titled Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age, this book was published by Princeton University Press in April 2013. In addition to his publications,the Teaching Company has just released a DVD series of 36 lectures by Bernie on "Inventions that Changed the World."Bernie directs the Engineering Business Programs at UVa and he teaches a course on "Engineers as Entrepreneurs." For over a decade, he was a consultant on history and knowledge management to Corning Incorporated and has served on the governing boards of several professional groups related to history, business, and engineering, including the IEEE History Committee and the Business History Conference. He is currently serving as the Executive Secretary for the Society for the History of Technology.

The Best 5 Books on W. Bernard Carlson

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Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age

Nikola Tesla was a major contributor to the electrical revolution that transformed daily life at the turn of the twentieth century. His inventions, patents, and theoretical work formed the basis of modern AC electricity, and contributed to the development of radio and television. Like his competitor Thomas Edison, Tesla was one of America's first celebrity scientists, enjoying the company of New York high society and dazzling the likes of Mark Twain with his electrical demonstrations. An astute self-promoter and gifted showman, he cultivated a public image of the eccentric genius. Even at the end of his life when he was living in poverty, Tesla still attracted reporters to his annual birthday interview, regaling them with claims that he had invented a particle-beam weapon capable of bringing down enemy aircraft.


Plenty of biographies glamorize Tesla and his eccentricities, but until now none has carefully examined what, how, and why he invented. In this groundbreaking book, W. Bernard Carlson demystifies the legendary inventor, placing him within the cultural and technological context of his time, and focusing on his inventions themselves as well as the creation and maintenance of his celebrity. Drawing on original documents from Tesla's private and public life, Carlson shows how he was an "idealist" inventor who sought the perfect experimental realization of a great idea or principle, and who skillfully sold his inventions to the public through mythmaking and illusion.


This major biography sheds new light on Tesla's visionary approach to invention and the business strategies behind his most important technological breakthroughs.

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Innovation as a Social Process: Elihu Thomson and the Rise of General Electric (Studies in Economic History and Policy: USA in the Twentieth Century)

Elihu Thomson was a major American inventor of electric light and power systems. A contemporary of Thomas Edison, Thomson performed the engineering and design work necessary to make electric lighting a common product. From the 1880s to the 1930s, Thomson was employed by the General Electric Company and its predecessors. Working within the corporation, Thomson reveals how successful inventions are based on explicit links among technological artifacts, marketing strategy, and the business organization needed for manufacturing and marketing.
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Innovation as a Social Process: Elihu Thomson and the Rise of General Electric (Studies in Economic History and Policy: USA in the Twentieth Century) by W. Bernard Carlson (1991-10-25)

Innovation as a Social Process: Elihu Thomson and the Rise of General Electric (Studies in Economic History and Policy: USA in the Twentieth Century) by W. Bernard Carlson (1991-10-25)
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TESLA

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