Steve Jobs called ‘IT’ “the most amazing piece of technology since the PC”. According to Jeff Bezos ‘IT’ was not only “revolutionary”, but also infinitely commercial. IT was a fiendishly clever and massively hyped invention. But in the end ‘IT’ — also known as the Segway — crashed and burned.
What makes an invention useful and valuable? Jimi Heselden’s pragmatic brainchild the Concertainer might hold the answers. First used to shore up the collapsing walls of a canal, it ultimately solved problems that Jimi had never imagined.
Cautionary Tales is written by me, Tim Harford, with Andrew Wright. It is produced by Alice Fiennes, with support from Edith Rousselot.
The sound design and original music is the work of Pascal Wyse. Julia Barton edited the scripts.
Thanks to the team at Pushkin Industries, including Jacob Weisberg, Ryan Dilley, Heather Fain, Jon Schnaars, Carly Migliori, Eric Sandler, Emily Rostek, Royston Beserve, Nicole Morano, Daniella Lakhan and Maya Koenig.
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Reinventing the Wheel: A Story of Genius, Innovation, and Grand Ambition, Steve Kemper, HarperCollins, 2005
This Is Going to Change the World, Dan Kois, Slate, 1 August 2021
Reinventing the Wheel, John Heilemann, Time, 2 December 2001