Innovation Quotes

These innovation quotes are as enlightening today as they were in the past and as they will be in the future.

A common characteristic of inventors is their desire to improve things. People that have this trait of course do pursue other professions but their creativity is that of an inventor and innovator.

So it should come as no surprise that President Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, Harry Houdini and other gifted individuals were also passionate inventors.

There is a Chinese proverb that says, "The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it." So I've also included quotes from influential individuals who had opposed some of the world's greatest innovations.

Steve Jobs

"The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do." ~ Steve Jobs

photo of Steve Jobs"So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we'll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we'll come work for you.'

And they said, 'No.' So then we went to Hewlett-Packard and they said, 'Hey, we don't need you. You haven't got through college yet." ~ Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs started making his Apple computers in his parents garage in 1976. Jobs sold his Volkswagen van and his friend Steve Wozniak sold his HP calculator to raise $1300 to buy computer parts. Their first order was for 50 computers. One year later, they had $800,000 in sales. Five years later, Apple was a Fortune 500 company.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." ~ Ken Olson, founder, chairman and president of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.

Henry Ford

photo of Henry Ford"If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right." ~ Henry Ford

"The horse is here today, but the automobile is only a novelty - a fad." ~ President of Michigan Savings Bank advising against investing in the Ford Motor Company.

Larry Page

photo of Larry PageLarry Page is the co-founder and chief executive of Google. He invented the Google search ranking algorithm and has an estimated personal wealth of $32.3 billion.

"You need to invent things and you need to get them to people. You need to commercialize those inventions. Obviously, the best way we've come up with doing that is through companies." ~ Larry Page

"Many leaders of big organizations, I think, don't believe that change is possible. But if you look at history, things do change, and if your business is static, you're likely to have issues." ~ Larry Page

Mark Twain

Mark Twain, whose real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), was a humorist, author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and an inventor.

Twain received his first patent in 1871 (Patent No. 121,992) for adjustable and detachable garment suspenders. He also had two other inventions, a self-pasting scrapbook and a game for improving memory.

photo of Mark Twain "The man with a new idea is a crank - until the idea succeeds." ~ Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain

"Name the greatest of all inventors. Accident." ~ Mark Twain

"A country without a patent office and good patent laws is just a crab, and can't travel any way but sideways and backways." ~ Mark Twain

Alexander Graham Bell

photo of Alexander Graham Bell"When one door closes, another door opens; but we so often look so long and regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us." ~ Alexander Graham Bell

"Before anything else, preparation is the key to success." ~ Alexander Graham Bell

"This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." ~ Western Union memo (1876)

photo of Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg is the co-founder, chairman and chief executive of Facebook.

He invented the software code used by the social media network. In 2008, he became the world's youngest billionaire.

"The biggest risk is not taking any risk...In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks." ~ Mark Zuckerberg

Harry Houdini

photo of Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini was one of the greatest magicians in history. He was also a pilot, movie actor, entrepreneur and inventor. Houdini received a patent in 1921 (Patent No. 1,370,316) for inventing a diving suit.

“Keep up your enthusiasm! There is nothing more contagious than exuberant enthusiasm." ~ Harry Houdini

"I always have on my mind the thought that next year I must do something greater, something more wonderful." ~ Harry Houdini

Charles F. Kettering

Kettering (August 29, 1876 – November 25, 1958) was an American engineer, inventor and entrepreneur.

He held 186 patents on a wide variety of inventions. Among his most popular innovations were the electric starting motor, a lightweight two-stroke diesel engine, leaded gasoline, freon refrigerant, and the first aerial missile. photo of Charles F. Kettering

Kettering started Delco and was also head of research and development for General Motors.

“The opportunities of man are limited only by his imagination. But so few have imagination that there are ten thousand fiddlers to one composer.” ~ Charles Kettering

"An inventor is simply a person who doesn't take his education too seriously. You see, from the time a person is six years old until he graduates from college he has to take three or four examinations a year. If he flunks once, he is out.

But an inventor is almost always failing. He tries and fails maybe a thousand times. It he succeeds once then he's in. These two things are diametrically opposite. We often say that the biggest job we have is to teach a newly hired employee how to fail intelligently. We have to train him to experiment over and over and to keep on trying and failing until he learns what will work." ~ Charles F. Kettering

Abraham Lincoln

photo of Abe Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln received a patent in 1849 (Patent No. 6,469) for inventing bellows that attached to the hulls of ships. His invention prevented ships from grounding in shallow waters.

"Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored." ~ Abraham Lincoln

"That some achieve great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well." ~ Abraham Lincoln

photo of Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison

"I failed my way to success." ~ Thomas Edison

“To have a great idea, have a lot of them.” ~ Thomas Edison

"I start where the last man left off." ~ Thomas Edison

"Vision without execution is hallucination." ~ Thomas Edison

“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” ~ Thomas Edison

Nikola Tesla

photo of Nikola Tesla

"There is no subject more captivating, more worthy of study, than nature. To understand this great mechanism, to discover the forces which are active, and the laws which govern them, is the highest aim of the intellect of man." ~ Nikola Tesla

“There is practically no chance communication space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television or radio service inside the United States.” ~ T. Craven, FCC Commissioner, 1961.

image of Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci

"Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else." ~ Leonardo da Vinci

Albert Einstein

photo of Albert Einstein

Einstein was a famous physicist renowned for his theory on relativity, which is a pillar of contemporary physics. But he was also an inventor.

Einstein, along with his co-inventor Leo Szilard, received a patent in 1930 (Patent No. 1,781,541) for inventing an eco-friendly refrigerator.

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." ~ Albert Einstein

"If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got." ~ Albert Einstein

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." ~ Albert Einstein

"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." ~ Albert Einstein

image of Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was a founding father of America. He was also an entrepreneur, author, scientist, and inventor.

Among his best known inventions were the lightning rod, bifocals and the odometer.

"All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move." ~ Benjamin Franklin

"By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail." ~ Benjamin Franklin