The Sixtieth Anniversary of Cleveland
Missing an Opportunity for Innovation
This month marks the 60th anniversary of the invention of the transistor, which was cobbled together by some researchers in Bell Laboratories, one of the more fertile engines of innovation of its time. It's often said that the Northeast Ohio region missed the digital era, and all the chances it offered to capitalize on related innovations. But David Morgenthalar, one of the founders of the venture capital industry, goes further. He once observed that Cleveland and the surrounding region actually missed the boat on the transistor era, which of course places our economic dysfunctions at a much earlier starting point. It also explains why Morgenthaler, who did understand the powerful implications of this breakthrough (he earned two mechanical engineering degrees from MIT just a few years before the transistor's invention) and later founded Morgenthaler Ventures, chose to invest in relatively few deals in this area, even though it remains the VC group's nominal headquarters.