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Invention and innovation: An introduction
Invention and innovation: An introduction

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4.5 Was the telephone invented in response to a need or because of developments in technology?

As with many truly innovative technologies it's difficult to claim that people were demanding its invention. Most people were satisfied with the existing means of communicating across distances. It took a great deal of imagination to foresee that the ability to speak to others at a distance would eventually replace the telegraph in business and the letter in personal communications. People weren't expressing a need to be able to communicate more rapidly but once the means became available to do so they steadily took advantage of the new technology. Then positive feedback took over and the better the technology became the more people got used to its benefits and the greater their need became for more innovation.

Developments in technology can create a need that provides a ready market for improved versions of the technology. And so it goes on.