A weekly commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney:
I get into ideas that are over my head. For instance, I was thinking we're never going to have another mechanical invention. We have our inventions.
It's been more than a century since Alexander Graham Bell came up with the telephone. Right after that, Edison invented the light bulb. Then it was the automobile, the airplane, radio, television, air-conditioning, the computer.
Before the computer they invented machines that lifted stuff, so we didn't have to carry anything heavy.
An invention replaced the horse in the field.
The steam engine carried us places on steel rails.
These inventions overcame the basic forces of nature. The light bulb beat out darkness. The radio drowned out silence. The automobile overcame inertia. The airplane, gravity. Heaters and air-conditioning mastered weather for us.
What are we going to get in the next 100 years that are comparable to those?
The U.S. Patent office got 160,000 applications last year but they weren't for inventions. They were gadgets or changes on inventions we already have.
Inventors these days aren't even trying to come up with anything new. They're all working for companies making changes in the stuff we already have so we'll have to buy a new one.
An uncle gave me my first car when I was in high school.
Today I have a great car. Everything's automatic. You push the button and window goes down. Pull it the window goes right back up.
Those two cars were built 60 years apart but each one had four wheels and an engine. My new car is better but it is not a new invention.
The Wright Brothers flew about 40 miles an hour. Today, the Concorde flies 1300 miles an hour; same principle though. A wing and a prayer.
Computers are amazing and they keep improving them. People laugh at this old Toshiba I use. This is a new one I bought. Smaller, faster but it was outdated before I got it home.
They're spending a lot of creative energy making things smaller like this.
This is a picture of the first radio we had in our house. This is the one I bought last, very good.
This was the telephone we had when I was a kid. This is the one I carry around now. It's smaller but it's still a telephone.
Civilization will never come through another period of mechanical invention that improved life on earth for humans so much.
Now what we need is something that will make human beings better. And smaller wouldn't hurt, either.
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