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The Tale of the Scale: An Odyssey of Inventionby Solly Angel
"Angel's...talent as a writer lies in the way he frames his progress in a broader cultural context. Merely technical issues are elevated by his reflections on Eastern philosophy, 20th-century design theory, and the historical role of scales in world commerce. Seldom objective but always honest, The Tale of the Scale is most fascinating as a first-person account of obsession." Darren Abrecht, The Christian Science Monitor (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)
Synopses & Reviews
In the mid-1980s, Sally Angel had a technological mini-vision. He saw in his mind's eye a quarter-inch thick personal scale weighing a pound?a travel scale?and he decided to make it a reality, to bring it to market.
The Tale of the Scale is a rare first-person account of the process of invention and design as it unfolds in the remaking of the familiar bathroom scale. It is rare because inventors seldom have the inclination to articulate their thought processes and to recount their experiences in great detail.
Written by an inventor, the book stands apart from recent books about inventors. Angel, an urban planner by profession, had no mechanical skills as he embarked on his journey. The Tale records his transformation, over the course of a decade, from a bungling ignoramus to an expert on thin scales.
Readers know as much about scales?or about invention for that matter?as Angel does at the beginning of the journey. Listening to Angel's unfolding story, they learn about the intricacies of invention and design as Angel finds out about them.
The Tale of the Scale is truly an odyssey of invention. The pursuit of the thin scale takes readers to fascinating places?from Bangkok to Rolling Hills, California, from Groningen in the Netherlands to Murrhardt in Germany, and from New York to Tokyo. But the places Angel explores are not only visually different. They are realms of knowledge inhabited by people with diverse yet complementary outlooks on the invention process?engineers, designers, lawyers, product development specialists, corporate functionaries, and friends who philosophize on the deeper meanings of one's life pursuits.
"The Tale of the Scale is a wholly engaging adventure story set in the world of invention, engineering, and manufacturing. It provides a rare look into the mind of an inventor and entrepreneur at work. No reader of this book should ever be able to look at a bathroom scale again without thinking of Solly Angel's personal quest." Henry Petroski, author of The Pencil
"An immensely entertaining and instructive chronicle.... Daydreaming about inventing a better mousetrap is common enough, but the dreamer who converts fantasy to reality is rare. Rarer still is the inventor with the reflective acumen to illuminate the process; that Angel has this ability makes the account amazingly exciting?not a quality usually associated with consumer-product development. To an extent, his bright idea?a slim scale for travelers?is incidental to the story, which dramatizes the collision between creative concepts and their marketability." Booklist
"Against the odds, Angel makes The Tale of the Scale interesting. His determination is impressive. His sense of humor stays alive even in the direst circumstances and he is easy to identify with. His early vision of making a million dollars soon fades, but this doesn't stop him. A rueful book, and a much more rewarding read than might be supposed." New Scientist
Solly Angel is a first-person account from the inventor of the travel scale?a quarter-inch thick, one-pound personal scale. Angel began without skills by which to realize his vision; the reader learns as he learns the intricacies of invention and design.
In the mid-1980s, Solly Angel had a technological mini-vision. He saw in his mind's eye a quarter-inch thick personal scale weighing a pound--a travel scale--and he decided to make it a reality, to bring it to market. This is a rare first-person account of the process of invention and design as it unfolds in the remaking of the familiar bathroom scale.
About the Author
Solly Angel is an internationally recognized authority on housing policy in developing countries. He is a senior policy advisor to the UN, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank. He teaches urban planning at New York University and at Princeton University. He is a co-author of A Pattern Language and the author of Housing Policy Matters.
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