I read an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, Don’t Look for Inventions Before Their Time, that talks about the reason why some inventions seem to take so long to invent.
The author gives an example of Bernard Sadow who applied for a patent on wheeled baggage in 1970, after dragging his heavy bags through an airport while a local worker effortlessly pushed a large wheeled cart past him. It seems that 1970 is very late to have invented something so simple, yet necessary, when you consider that people had been moving heavy bags to buggies, cars, trains, and planes for a considerable amount of time. The conjecture is that prior to this date, we never really needed it–there were luggage drop-off curves, bag attendants, and less frequent travel. Simply put, we didn’t have to drag our bags through the airport check-in lines ourselves until around 1970. Once we had to do it ourselves, the notion of how to make it easier (on ourselves), popped to the top of our minds–and wheeled baggage was invented. In other words, necessity was the mother of invention.
Similarly, I consider these same forces for today’s inventive process. Think about the last time that you were challenged with a laborious task–didn’t you wish you could invent something to make it easier?