Necessity is the mother of invention...........we all have grown up encountering this one liner as part of both our science lectures and normal conversations with teachers, parents and friends. But have you noticed that this phrase only mentions about the invention’s ‘mother’, cleverly omitting the ‘father’? Why? The immediately logical response would be that “because the line basically presents invention as a newborn child, therefore, it is imperative to have mention of the person responsible for its birth i.e. the mother”. Quite true, but drawing an analogy to biology and medicine, quickly reminds us that though a child is delivered from a woman’s womb, but its creation inside is the result of the procreative process outside in which both the mother and father are equally involved. So why make the mother only take credit for everything in this phrase, leaving the poor father behind? Or is it that this poor child is fatherless? If yes, then he is an illegitimate or born out of wedlock. Logically speaking, then we all should be making him the target of our jibes and curses, acting in social conformity of boycotting fatherless children, like we always do. But surprisingly, this kid has a different story altogether. He is loved and protected more than a legitimate child, so much so that its creators queue up outside patent and copyright offices to seek its longevity of life, the moment it takes its first breath. Whatever the case, but one thing is for sure, an invention is a priceless child (reminds me of “Richie Rich - the multi-millionaire kid” in comic books). The level of possessiveness surrounding it cannot be emphasized more, given the recent spate of litigation war between Apple & Samsung, making the latter cough up a whopping $1.04 billion as penalty for trying to illegitimately clone the reproduction process and even the appearance of Jobs’ grandchildren (Apple’s kids - iPhone & iPad) in terms of their software and hardware designs. Anyways, that’s a different story (related though) we don’t need to touch upon, lest we digress from the issue.
Every invention or innovation for that matter germinates with the conception of an idea, propelled by the need or desire to solve a problem and initially, it has no entity, and can change hands “in a heartbeat”. Flip pages from history and you would find almost all historical game-changing inventions; from the legendary steam engine to the revolutionary iPhone & iPad tread the same path. In that sense, we can definitely give all the credit for its birth to its mother, which is nothing but the very idea to challenge the status quo and do something offbeat, something different. However, we all know that bringing a life into this world just by “performing the act” is not enough. That life needs constant supervision, love and sustained efforts to help it thrive to its full potential like a newborn sapling which also requires the same attention to help grow into a strong shady tree. Here, along with the psychological and emotional care we are talking about the monetary concern that is just equally important to make the otherwise saleable idea morph into a path-breaking product or a business venture. Hence comes, the overbearing role of the father or in the business language, funding of the invention or idea. Even if your idea is conceptually sound and commercially viable, how many takers are there for it? Is anyone willing to fund it? Hotmail would have remained just a thought powered by Sabeer Bhatia’s need to solve the problem of staying in touch with his co-workers on account of frequent travels, given the fact, that mobile phones were still a far-fetched dream more than a decade back in India; had Microsoft not bought it from Mr. Bhatia for $400 million. So, merely dreaming and implementing an e-mail system was not enough, but selling it by using the brand name of Microsoft was equally important for ensuring its prolonged life and continual evolution. But, unfortunately, most of us, while talking about any product or invention or innovation, only recognize the person responsible for conceptualizing it, without even thinking about the entity that met its initial round of funding needs and, hence, played a crucial part in making it a household name.
It is for this reason I guess, the name of every invention’s father remains hidden behind its mother, making it an illegitimate child and hence the saying, Necessity is the mother of invention.