Inventors

Friedel Klussmann and San Francisco's Cable Cars

San Francisco’s cable cars are the last working system of their kind. The reason they haven’t been completely replaced by more modern modes of transportation is largely the advocacy of a woman named Friedel Klussmann.



A Condensed History of Air Conditioning

From hand fans to today’s high-end air conditioning technology, people have always found ways to deal with heat and humidity. And as mechanical cooling became more ubiquitous, some of the cultural practices for keeping cool were made obsolete. 



Levi Strauss

Levi’s story is historically interesting because it touches on a lot of important moments in U.S. history. His business was tied to the California Gold Rush, the U.S. Civil War and American clothing culture.

Five First Flights

When people say the Wright Brothers were first to fly, they're talking about a very particular set of circumstances. There are other contenders to the title of "first in flight," and each has their own compelling story and list of achievements.

Isaac Merrit Singer

While his name is most strongly associated with the sewing machine, Isaac Singer's life is a tale far beyond the story of mechanized stitching. A philanderer and cut throat businessman, Singer managed to accrue huge sums of wealth in his later life.

The Wright Brothers: An Interview With David McCullough

David McCullough, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, talks about his research and discoveries about the Wright brothers, their extreme determination, their family, and the many, many people who played parts in their great success as innovators. Read the show notes here.

From Marlon Brando to Harry Houdini, it's common knowledge that performers are uniquely gifted -- but several have also gained reputations as gifted inventors. Tune in to learn more about five of history's most unlikely inventors.