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Inventing Progress: reading informational text; Competition and Collaboration 5


Read the two passages, then answer the practice question.

Note: this is a fictional blog post, but all the people and information it mentions are real.

Extraordinary Competitors—Extraordinary Feats

by Naveen Kharab
Have you ever competed in a race? Who made you run faster—the fastest runners or the ones at the back of the pack? Competition makes us work harder and smarter. In the same way, the largest advancements in technology have been made as a result of competition.
Steve Jobs (left) and Bill Gates (right)
Famed rivals Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are proof that competition is the greatest driver of innovation. Steve Jobs was the co-founder and longtime chief executive officer of Apple Inc., while Bill Gates is the co-founder and former chief executive of Microsoft—and both are technology giants. Jobs and Gates are known as innovators with brilliant minds whose ingenuity in computer technology revolutionized the world. They were propelled forward by a fierce rivalry that was often described as an apparent “love-hate relationship.”
Gates and Jobs pioneered the personal computer industry and went neck and neck for over three decades. They met in the 1970s, and over a period of 30 years, a spirit of competition urged both men forward in their progress. In 1981, Gates produced the software for IBM’s first personal computer. Three years later, Jobs introduced the Macintosh (Mac), Apple’s iconic product that is still produced and sold in large quantities today.
After the initial success of the Mac, Jobs approached Gates about making Microsoft software for the Mac. Gates agreed, and for a few years, Microsoft and Apple worked together. After seeing the Mac’s system up close, Gates released Microsoft Windows, which imitated many features of the Mac. Jobs was furious. What followed was a back and forth exchange of vigorous competition.
In 1987, Apple introduced the Mac II, and Microsoft responded later that year by releasing Windows 2.0. In 1988, Apple sued Microsoft for stealing certain icons. In 2001, Apple released the iPod, a brand new way of storing and listening to music. Microsoft subsequently released the Zune music player. In 2010, Apple released the first version of the iPad, and in 2012, Microsoft released the Surface tablet. It’s obvious that their competition in electronics and computing output has led Apple and Microsoft to attempt and accomplish great feats in the field of technology.
Today, Apple and Microsoft are both worth more than $1 trillion—an amount that hardly seemed imaginable when these two companies were founded. Tech and business critics agree: Apple wouldn’t be where it is without Microsoft nor Microsoft without Apple. Partly because of Jobs and Gates, computers today are not a novelty but found in almost 50% of households in the world. Each step of the way, Jobs and Gates were inspired and motivated to do better by the other’s innovations. In trying to outdo each other, they both reached the height of their success—a legacy for their mutual companies and a benefit for posterity.

Note: this is a fictional blog post, but all the people and information it mentions are real.

The Invention Factory

by Saki Hirose
In his lifetime, Thomas Edison had over 1,000 patents on record. Though he possessed amazing ingenuity, he quickly recognized that, as just one person, he didn’t have the capacity to build and test his many inventions. In response, Edison created a laboratory—also known as the Invention Factory—in Menlo Park, New Jersey. It was made up of engineers, machinists, and physicists, and it ensured that numerous inventions were converted from concepts and ideas into products. Some say competition has spurred the most growth in technology, but Edison’s Invention Factory proves that, instead, advantageous partnerships and collaboration are responsible.
Edison's Menlo Park Laboratory, reconstructed at Greenfield Village at Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
Edison documented his ideas and thoughts in 3,500 notebooks, which have been studied by historian Paul Israel at Rutgers University. A consistent theme is the importance of continuous collaboration, which Edison put into practice at the Invention Factory. Here, Edison was known for hosting “midnight lunches” where colleagues would get together to share food, questions, and ideas. This tradition brought employees together in an environment where collaboration flourished, enabling small teams to pool knowledge and solve problems. This led to the development of wonders we can’t imagine living without, like alkaline batteries and motion pictures.
Edison had numerous teams working at once, and he also assembled “Edison’s Pioneers,” an elite research team. Lewis Latimer, a major Black inventor of the time, was a member of this team and responsible for improving Edison’s lightbulb. Latimer’s bulb was made of a carbon more durable than Edison’s prototype, which kept the
from burning out too quickly. Latimer is widely credited with making it feasible for the public to use electric light.
Jonas Aylsworth also worked at the Invention Factory and is known for pioneering the development of plastic. Reginald Fessenden, a chemist, developed insulation for electrical wires, which led to the first underground electrical system. Other inventions that came out of Menlo Park include the microphone, a prototype electric railway, street lights, and the phonograph. Edison applied for over 400 patents related to the inventions developed at Menlo Park; yet, many historians believe that his greatest invention of all was the Invention Factory itself.

Practice Question

Select TWO ways that the accounts of innovation in these two blog posts are different.
Choose 2 answers: