How We Got to Now

From This Way Up, 1:25 pm on 13 December 2014

How we got to now panorama

Telephone CC BY-SA 3.0 Nition1; Phonograph CC BY-SA 3.0 Srtxg; Light bulb.

Steven Johnson writes a history of ideas and innovation in his book 'How We Got to Now' where he explores how many of the technologies that surround us have quite bizarre and unexpected back-stories.

One of Johnson's favorite discoveries is glass, which Johnson suggests has influenced many aspects of human development - not just through drinking glasses and windows, but telescopes, medical equipment, mirrors which then influenced art, and the light bulb.

He also talks about how air conditioning contributed to Ronald Regan's election as US president, Alexander Graham Bell's expectations for the telephone, and Thomas Edison's for the phonograph.

Steven Johnson talks to Simon Morton about how we got to now.


How we got to now