Humankind’s Next Eureka Moment

When thinking of something powerful, most people conjure up images of a locomotive… a bulldozer… a hurricane… a tsunami… or a tank.

But here’s something far more powerful…

A good idea.

Or, more specifically, the exact moment when a good idea occurs.

Such moments are rare, indeed, but they’re part of the human experience.

They even have their very own term — “Eureka moments.”

Eureka moments can be incredibly personal or they can redefine societies.

Fortunately for us, the technology sector is loaded with Eureka moments.

Take the radio, for example. Radio’s Eureka moment arrived in 1912 when the invention of the triode amplifier took off. Triode amplifiers allowed radio frequency signals to be picked up by antennae and dispersed… leading to a boom in the number of radio stations.

Television had its Eureka moment in 1945, when the first generation of TVs with cathode ray tubes (CRTs) hit the market. Originally called “kinescopes” or “picture tubes,” CRTs use beams of electrons to project images onto a glass screen. As these electrons collide with gas inside the tube, they illuminate. With a TV set in every living room, life would never be the same.

Eureka moments aren’t always so obvious.

Just ask Xerox.

It’s well documented that Xerox developed the computer mouse in the 1970s, with absolutely no idea that it would individually trigger the personal-computing revolution and transform the world. Instead of relying on programming code, the mouse allowed untrained users to launch programs by simply clicking an icon on their computer screen. Imagine trying to call an Uber by keying in lines of code.

Or consider the case of the internet.

For a decade-plus, the internet had been helping researchers and scientists electronically send files and emails from one computer to another. But it didn’t become a “worldwide web” of information — accessible to any layman — until a browser called “Mosaic” launched in 1993. Mosaic transitioned into Netscape and gave the world scrollbars, menu buttons, pictures and clickable links for us to “surf.”

What about smartphones’ Eureka moment, you ask?

I’ll bet you never heard of FingerWorks — a company founded in 1998 that mastered the art of modern-day touchscreen interface. FingerWorks’ science was such a profound advancement over “touch” technology in ATMs and cash registers that Apple bought the firm in 2005. Two years later, of course, the iPhone became an iconic technology for the ages.

Point being, every breakthrough technology has a Eureka moment — the sudden understanding of a previously incomprehensible problem or concept.

Although it’s hard to even imagine…

Every above-listed technology existed in some crude form prior to its Eureka moment.

The topic of Eureka moments is relevant today more than ever… because arguably the most important industry of the 2020s — autonomous vehicles — just had its Eureka moment.

Onward and upward,


Robert Williams

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Robert Williams

After nearly 20 years in the trenches of high finance, Robert has joined St. Paul Research to assume the role of Chief Futurist. Robert cut his teeth as an analyst for one of the most revered and prestigious medical institutions on Earth, whose endowment is valued at $4.3 billion. From there, Robert became the lead...

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