When most people think of centers of innovation, they might first think of Silicon Valley or Kendall Square in Cambridge. But according to Ken Liss, president of the Brookline Historical Society, Brookline should also be added to that list of centers. He will deliver a lecture, Inventors & Innovators: New Ideas Born in Brookline, at Brookline High School on January 25 at 7pm.
The presentation will discuss five remarkable inventors who lived and worked in Brookline from the 1890s to the 1950s. All of the inventors were ahead of their time. Some lived to see their discoveries brought to market, while others didn’t.
“As a local historian, it is always great to learn about stories that happened right here in Brookline,” Liss said.
One of the inventors Liss is excited to discuss is William E. Shaw, a Canadian inventor who lived and worked in Brookline over a hundred years ago. Shaw, who was deaf, designed and built a series of electrical devices that were specifically created for the deaf and hard of hearing, such as telephones, doorbells, alarm clocks and burglar alarms. While there is no proof his inventions were commercially produced, Shaw did received praise for his work from local newspapers and even an invitation to work with Alexander Graham Bell.
Other highlights from the lecture include Charles Holtzer’s 1891 electric car, the first non-experimental electric car produced in the United States. Liss will also discuss the 1895 Gillette safety razor that sold in the millions, despite a cost of half the average workingman’s weekly salary at the time, and the work of pioneering obstetrician and gynecologist, John Rock, M.D., who helped to develop the birth control pill and in vitro fertilization.
“I actually find these inventors to be more interesting than today’s inventors because they dealt with inventions that were more practical to more people,” Liss said.
For ticket information contact 617-730-2700 or www.brooklineadulted.org.