Technological entrepreneurship from patenting to commercializing: a survey of late nineteenth and early twentieth century physics lecturers

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Abstract

Only a few late nineteenth and early twentieth century academic physicists sought to develop, produce and market technical inventions. This paper examines a few pre-World War I scientists from the German speaking world who committed to ‘full blown entrepreneurship’ and compares them to others who invented and patented but did not pursue a business enterprise. It shows that the turn to entrepreneurship required a combination of intellectual, technical, social and individual factors. Connections between their scientific research and teaching and new technological fields related to science opened possibilities and allowed scientists to exploit their laboratory and theoretical expertise to develop devices and methods. The marketability of these inventions was a central factor in moving them to an industrial career. This turn resulted from pushes within the academia and pulls towards industry: low professional prospects and financial difficulties in the university and/or attractive offers by industrialists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-125
Number of pages17
JournalHistory and Technology
Volume33
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2017

Keywords

  • Carl Auer von Welsbach
  • Ferdinand Braun, Ernst Abbe
  • Hermann Aron
  • Leo Arons
  • Science-technology relationships
  • invention

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