The Tinkerers: The Amateurs, DIYers, and Inventors Who Make America Great


January 29, 2013


Alec Foege


The American tinkering spirit, a unique combination of untamed creativity and practical business sense, helped build the United States into the world’s greatest economic power. Home to the inventions of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, the Wright brothers and many more, the US has been a nation of tinkerers from its very beginning. Today’s American tinkerers are innovators, but they’re so much more: Brilliant, cockeyed dilettantes such as Segway inventor Dean Kamen, brain trust entrepreneur Nathan Myhrvold, and Tinkering School founder Gever Tulley are rethinking the way the country accesses its tinkering birthright. Lately, the country seems to be changing from a land of doers to one of consumers and the once-praised innovative aura seems to have fallen aside to corporate goals. But as companies begin to bring manufacturing back to domestic shores, industry can learn a lot from the history of the pure tinkering mindset, and better understand how to recapture its remarkable power.


Alec Foege

Alec Foege is the author of Right of the Dial: The Rise of Clear Channel and the Fall of Commercial Radio, Confusion Is Next: The Sonic Youth Story, and The Empire God Built: Inside Pat Robertson’s Media Machine. A former Rolling Stone contributing editor and People magazine senior writer, Foege has also written for the New York Times, Details, Mediaweek, Vogue, Variety, The Los Angeles Times, and many other publications.