“I thought it would take me about six months. In fact it took me 4.5 years and I built 5,127 prototypes until I got it right. That sounds tedious. In fact it was absolutely fascinating. I mean each failure, the 5,126 failures taught me so much. Successes teach you nothing. Failures teach you everything. Making mistakes is the most important thing you can do.” – James Dyson
James is one of the coolest inventor, design genius, and entrepreneur that I know of. I saw James’ fascinating, fun to read and insightful book “Against the Odds: An Autobiography” sitting rather sadly in the discount bin of Chapters bookstore in 2003 and I immediately love it. James’ book was an absolue eyes opener for me and I have learned so much from him. He is not only a genius inventor (his products are innovative and benchmark setting), he is also a great entrepreneur (he built his business from the ground up to a multi-billion dollar company in the UK and around the world).
By the way, James also fought (costing $10 million) and won a really tough patent infringement battle against Hoover (dusts finally settling 7 years later)! That was not a fun exercise for James to say the least. (discussed at around 32:40 of the video.)
By the way, Jonathan Ive, Senior Vice President of Industrial Design at Apple Computer, godfather of iMac and iPod, saw Dyson’s vacuum cleaner when it first came out and he loved it so much that he immediately bought one for himself and one for Steve Jobs. And then, this is the fun part — the iMac came out *after* the Dyson vacuum cleaner!! But because of the popularity of iMac, most people think that Dyson copied iMac when it is really the other way around. (smile)
By chance, I came across this talk “The Art of Engineering” given by James at MIT on April 26, 2006. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do. (Note: The whole talk is great but James started to talk about his wonderful vacuum cleaner at around the 20 minutes mark.)
Note: Is there such a thing as “by chance”? I strongly believe that “Chance Favors the Prepared Mind” . So if you are prepared and ready to “see or find” things, then you will see and find really cool lectures like James’ talk and you will treasure it. Just my 2 cents.
P.S. Here is a list of US patents hold by James. As I may have discussed previously, patent is a great tool to learn about things. They are very technical (an instruction set to build the thing for people knowledgeable in the field) but the patents are also required by patent laws (“BEST MODE AND PREFERRED EMBODIMENT OF THE INVENTION””) to give you a pretty good road map. Happy learning.
Dec 30th 2007 Update: I’ve added a new entry, “Mr. James Dyson, Tear Down This Wall!” to add my latest thinking on the Dyson Vacuum.
Dec 2nd 2019 Update: I’ve fixed the broken video link to Dyson’s MIT talk, luckily the video is still on MIT’s site. BTW, here is a news update re the above mentioned Jonathan Ive, “Jony Ive has left Apple” (The Verge, 2019 Nov 28).