vague interests

The 20 Most Notable Engineers of All Time | High Tech History

John Ambrose Fleming
Image via Wikipedia

No. 7.  John Ambrose Fleming: Sir John Ambrose Fleming is the inventor of the first vacuum tube. His engineering feat is known as the precursor to electronics — even though the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated his patent.

via The 20 Most Notable Engineers of All Time | High Tech History.

Until I read this list, I didn’t know who invented the vacuum tube. I did however understand the incredible importance of the vacuum tube though. Especially as it applied to the early computer industry. After that the transistor took over. But oh that early time of designing circuits and working on logic! Without any of those historical antecedents we would not have the computers of today. The necessity of switching voltages from high to low is the only way to mimic the registers in an adding machine, spinning, counting off one digit at a time. Wiring those tubes up into circuits and creating logic with them was the next big leap in intuition.

Without the vacuum tube there would be no electrical engineering, no electronics industry and no devices like wireless telegraphs, wireless radio, etc. Everything hinged on this invention. So cheers to John Ambrose Fleming and the vaccuum tube. Being able to apply some kind of useful purpose to what would have been thought of as a laboratory curiosity, a magic toy to manipulate cathode rays. But somehow Fleming was able to see an application of this technology to a useful end and the rest they say is history.